This afternoon we had dim sum at Kings Palace in Causeway Bay, a quite ridiculously named dim sum joint overlooking Causeway Bay. The place always appears to be set up for weddings – at either end of an enormous noisy room full of people eating as hard as they can are stages, decorated with garlands of paper flowers and carpeted with the pelts of a thousand slaughtered grey teddy bears (or so it seems). As the token gweilo party we always get stuck at the far end of the room, past the holographic trompe d’ oeil picture window of the Vatican, and this time under a sign celebrating the impending nuptials of Connie & Phojay. (The other end got Raymond and Lisa, which doesn’t sound as exotic. Is Phojay man, woman, or cyborg?)
A fake-fur covered platform is a wonderfully exciting thing for a toddler, as we discovered. La Serpiente Negra kept running up to it, and then unable to decide whether to clamber up it or just caress the grey fluff. When she did get up, she immediately began to run around, before trying to hurl herself off the edge, having failed to remember that her software still needs an upgrade before she can do descending safely.
In turn, that meant every time she reached the edge, I had to scoop her up, rather than have her learn through trial and error. In the long term, this is a poor approach to take, but I didn’t want to be the father who leaves the dim sum restaurant with his concussed daughter.
She ran and ran and ran until she was tired, then ran some more, and as if we weren’t exhausted at that point, we left and went over the road to Ikea.
Sartre never went to Ikea, but if he had, his famous maxim would probably have been "Ikea is hell, because it’s full of other people". The Swedish household store is only tolerable if you’re outside of nine pints of lager when you get inside, or if you use the secret shortcut: there’s a lift down the hallway adjacent to the main entrance, which drops you down by the tills, so you can quickly get to what you want, instead of having to cram yourself through the crowds of humanity in the showroom area. You do have to go against the flow of people, like a self-assembly-furniture-seeking salmon, but the time you save is incredibly precious to your mental well-being.
We bought some drawer dividers, small fabric boxes used to keep the inside of your drawers better organized. They’re actually the perfect fit to divide up the inside of one of our wheeled suitcases, so instead of the interior being a black hole of baby stuff, it’s neatly divided into nappies, burp cloths, food and clothes, and when you access it and remove stuff, the whole arrangement of everything else isn’t disrupted. Small things lead to less stress.
After Ikea, we celebrated by eating an entire bag of Daim bars, then putting our daughter on the swings in Victoria Park. She didn’t like this much to begin with, then she warmed to it, making cheerful gibbering noises and waggling her legs, and then she grew sulky again and (we thought) demanded more food. Perhaps it wasn’t hunger, it was a need for closure on the subject of Phojay; I won’t know for several years, until she has enough vocabulary to tell me.
We took her back to her aunt’s place, fed her, air conditioned her, introduced her to some new friends, fed her again, bathed her, and put her to bed. Because her aunt’s bathroom actually has a bath, bathtime is easier than in our apartment, because we can distract her with a line of bath toys along the rim of the bath. No such facility exists in our little HDB.
I did notice a gap in the market while doing this: there are no Cthulhu bath toys available on the internet. There are, however, a lot of people with access to 3D printers, and some must be H.P. Lovecraft aficionados, and some of those must have kids, and baths. The only immediate flaws I can think of are whether the plastic used for 3D printing is safe enough, and whether you can print in the sort of squeezy plastic that a good bath toy requires. But imagine being able to squirt water at your loved one’s face from the squamous and rugose form of one of the Great Old Ones? Surely there’s a market for that… Annoyingly, the only person I know who would probably have the answer to this was at the dim sum lunch, six hours before I thought of this. Timing is everything.