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Thai Girl Tattle: My Son Tony

...Tony is a delightful child and I cannot now imagine life without him. Heís a tireless ball of energy and full of the joys of spring. Heís constantly observing and analysing everything and, like an ever expanding sponge, absorbing all he sees around him. Itís remarkable to watch him as he develops, equipping himself with all the complex skills necessary for survival...

Andrew Hicks inroduces us to his four-year-old son, Tony.

My personal life in our Isaan village with my Thai wife, Cat, became very public something over a year ago when I published our story as a book called, ďMY THAI GIRL AND IĒ. This tells of our first five years together and what itís like for an old stager like me to settle down in a remote rice farming community with an energetic wife half my age.

One of the limitations in writing the book and these subsequent blogs has been trying to respect my Thai familyís privacy. While Iím free to blow my own cover, Iíve had to think more carefully about theirs.

For similar reasons I havenít yet told you about the little boy in the pictures on my blog but now I feel that I should. Weíve just celebrated his fourth birthday. His name is Anthony, or ĎTonyí, and Cat and I have recently completed the complex process of adopting him in Bangkok.

My adult children, Anna and Mike, are in their thirties and so now they have a little brother, even if too far away, while I find myself the wrong side of sixty with a four year old who calls me Daddy, and very happy I am about it too.

Needless to say, Tony is a delightful child and I cannot now imagine life without him. Heís a tireless ball of energy and full of the joys of spring. Heís constantly observing and analysing everything and, like an ever expanding sponge, absorbing all he sees around him. Itís remarkable to watch him as he develops, equipping himself with all the complex skills necessary for survival.

He came to us when he was only a few weeks old and so he knows nothing else but us. Catís family has received him warmly and they cherish him as one of their own, and in that heís very lucky indeed. Childhood in a village such as this is idyllic as thereís warmth and space and he can run freely without facing too many risks. In a farming community there are always people around and he always has friends to play with. Itís open house all day long, doors are never closed and he has constant stimulus from a wide extended family.

In the West we barricade ourselves inside our claustrophobic nuclear families, presumably so-called because at any time theyíll destructively explode. In Asia all is open and welcoming which makes the Thais the way they are and ensures that this truly is the Land of Smiles.

Weíve just held Tonyís fourth birthday party and it was a big village event with everyone invited. Because theyíre busy in the fields with the cows and buffaloes until evening, it has to be a late party and the adults come too. All day thereís food to be prepared, chickens to pluck, coconuts to be taken from the trees and grated, roots to peel. All is hectic activity and fun.

And of course thereís music, which has to be mega-loud. Music-man arrives in a pickup and spends all day setting up a wall of speakers and a stack of electronic boxes with complex knobs and wires streaming out of them. Apart from the fact theyíre outside in the open, this is music to raise the roof. Itís so loud it reverberates as it hits my chest but, despite the mountains of woofers and gizmos, the sound quality is excruciating, as is the karaoke that follows.

The garden soon fills up with visitors. A few farang and friends sit at tables, the Thais on mats on the grass. There are of course balloons and presents and a technicolour birthday cake, with food and alcohol in abundance and thatís all just how it ought to be. Thai parties are an extravaganza and ours for Tony was no exception.

I can hardly believe that weíve now steered him safely through his first four years and that heís got a Thai passport with a grinning picture and the name, Anthony Hicks. Like raising my own kids, this has to be one of the most important things Iíve ever done.

For me at my age, facing up to baby feeds and nappies and to sleepless nights was a bit of a shock, though it came quite naturally, a bit like riding a bicycle again. And of course this time around itís been so much easier. Three decades ago, having two babies and two demanding full-time job was always hard, so now with neither of us in formal work and with so many supporters, all desperate to hold the baby, itís been relatively easy. Mummy and Daddy are usually at home for Tony and the family have been giving him a perfect childhood.

Thereís even a little infant school at a local temple and he goes when he wants to and when he doesnít, he just stays at home.

Cat and I speak English with him and he sometimes speaks a cocktail of Thai, Lao and Suay to the rest of the world. Somehow he manages to switch to English to talk to me, though itís very comic when Thai words get mixed in too. He knows the colors and numbers in both English and Thai and weíll try hard to raise him as bilingual in both languages.

Having thus introduced my small son, Tony, to you, he can now begin to feature openly in the continuing story of what should from now on better be called, ĎMy Thai Wife and Son and Ií.

**

Do please visit Andrew's Web sites

http://www.thaigirl2004.com/

http://www.thaigirl2004.blogspot.com/

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