Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Broom Closet

Isn’t it a wonder, despite the known fact that human beings are primarily social creatures who would go insane if kept in solitary confinement for too long, still go to great lengths to find a solitary place to ‘get away from the world’?

Life, for the most part, is chaotic at best, regardless of the countless times we attempt to keep our world in check. Amidst the tumult of dis-array from this fallen, degenerate world we live in, we have ingrained in us by our Creator, an unquenchable desire to maintain orderliness.

Nevertheless, many of us are in denial stating that we like the mess we live under; others give up and ‘turn a blind eye’ or ‘shut the door on it’. Others say they find order ‘boring’ and that mess ‘gives them something to do’, or even defines who they are!

We can define clutter in two basic ways:


We can define mess as:


so if mess defines you, then there is something seriously wrong because....

However, whatever category we may place it, getting back to point in hand, it is still categorizing. In other words, we can’t help ourselves but to compartmentalize, categorize and conceptualize.

Therefore, we all have an insatiable need to find that ‘private space’ away from all the mayhem. Take our bedrooms for example. Many claim that as their safe haven. Signs of Skull and Crossbone ‘Keep Out’ blaring on some teenage room doors, or more demurely “……’s Room”, or perhaps, God forbid in my opinion, parent’s retreats at the other end of the house.

Let’s consider also the bathroom… is supposed to be a private place. Some have posters or timetables up on back of the toilet door; others, a stack of magazines or comic books or even a novel. (Just how much time can one spend on the toilet!) But then mothers, on the other hand are considered a different breed when it comes to bathrooms, a foreign species that cannot be thought of as human because the moment you walk in the door and lock it behind you, there is a little voice bellowing past the wooden barrier – “Mummy” “Mum” “Mummy”!!! More often than not, the conversation has no relation whatsoever to the use of the bathroom. It is like some sort of conspiracy where kids wait until you get yourself a moment’s respite then they rob you of it. Argggh.

In highly populated societies, personal space is virtually non-existent though the need deep down is still there. This is where innovation at its best comes in, in surprisingly simple means, such as a hand-towel or blanket thrown over the head shutting out the world around you even with it merely an inch from you in reality. The younger generation opts for an IPOD, video game or GameBoy. Others a good book, a good DVD, computers, Facebook; or even their mobile phones! Others snuggle up in bed, and yet for some it is writing a blog. In movies, of all places, it is the broom closet!

Whatever it takes to transport us to a world beyond reality, a world of our own, where we can tune out from the stresses of life, somewhere we can't be found by anyone - like a toddler who hides his face with his hands and thinks no one else can see him – our very own, bona fide, custom-made, just for us Broom Closet.

Copyright 2010. Rebecca Laklem.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Time Capsule

As a child grows, he/she begins to conceptualise the family tree and where grandparents and other extended family members fit into the whole scheme of life. The fact that grandparents are the mother and father of your mother or father is a lot to process in a child’s mind, especially with the subtle differences that evolve in relationships due to your maturing in age. Master 6 and Miss 9 were no exception. 0n a recent visit with my parents, the children discovered that their maternal grandparents were in fact my Mummy and Daddy.

One day, during this time, we had pulled out the family photo albums. There, spread out in front of us were many photos of my growing years, baby photos, family portraits, birthday celebrations, old school photos etc. With much exclamation bearing every photo being passed around, I explained each one to my children….This is Mummy when I was a newborn; this is Mummy when I was just 4 etc. Much to my disappointment, Master 6 showed little to no interest.

A short time later, out in a shopping mall together with me and his grandparents, Master 6 asked his grandmother, “Will you allow Mummy to come play with me in the playground please?” Taken by surprise at the question, we nevertheless were amused at the image that must have conjured in my young son’s mind as he said those words….an image, no doubt, of me as a child sporting pigtails and freckles, no bigger than himself. With my mother’s response of “Yes, she may” coupled with merriment in her eyes towards me, Master 6 took me firmly by the hand and off we went……with me stifling the sudden urge to “skip” J

In the days that immediately followed, Master 6 apparently acquired a heightened respect for my mother within this new perspective. He was constantly heard asking his grandmother for permission in his interactions with me. “Can I speak to Mummy?” he’d ask and so forth.

Miss 9, on the other hand, had begun to get increasingly aware that she is getting older. Having just turned 9, she is no longer a baby, nor is she a little kid like her brother Master 6. With 2 teen-aged and 2 young adult sisters, her interests have taken a dramatic turn from the child’s play she once reveled in. She no longer considers her younger brother’s boyish games as fun, evident in the continuous whine of her brother, “Mum, (Miss 9) won’t play with me!!” At many of the places we frequent that my youngest son enjoys, mostly playgrounds and game places like Time Zone, I was startled to see that Miss 9 was ‘too embarrassed’ to be seen having fun playing games, despite the fact there were youngsters of various ages on into their teen years all around her.

In an effort to make her realise there was no wrong in enjoying these pastimes, I endeavoured to participate myself. The look of amazement on the faces of my children was undeniable. “I didn’t know you could do that Mummy!” Master 6 was unperturbed by this sudden revelation however, as he proceeded to ‘teach’ me how it was done. As my grandmother once said to me – you are as old as you feel.

From generation to generation characteristics and traits, stories and wiles are passed down from our great-great grandparents to our great-grandparents to our grandparents to our parents to us and then on to our children. Relics are locked away in attics or storage – photos, diaries, books, antiques, and family heirlooms. In each one a wealth of knowledge and mystery of times gone by - your link to the past and to what lies before you for the next generation. Your own treasure cove in a time capsule.

Copyright 2009. Rebecca Laklem.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

What Makes a Superhero a Superhero?

Master Five is typical of boys his age. He has an unfaltering interest in all superheroes whether they be Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Power Rangers or some other made up human-creature such as Wolverine, or the Incredible Hulk.

So what does a man who wears his underpants on the outside, sporting a cape and disguises himself with a mere pair of specs; a guy who was bitten by a radioactive spider and suddenly becomes one; a caped crusader who does nothing much except hides away in a cave and behind a mask; a bunch of idiots dressed up in bug-like suits who can’t even fight properly; a man who endures torture resulting in metal ‘claws’ coming out of his hands; and last but not least a big green giant who looks like some alien creature and who is in desperate need of anger management, have to entice young ones like my son to want to mimic them I wonder?

Do these make-believe characters really enhance children’s imaginations? I am inclined to think not. To me it appears that it teaches them downright stupidity at best.

The result, the kid starts wearing the same outfit for weeks on end; climbs all over the furniture, some being dangerously high; jumps down the stairs several steps at a time; thinks he can fly because he can leap from the dresser to the bed; running at break-neck speed through the house or down the hallway. My brother when he was my son’s age even attempted to jump from the garage roof to see if his caped crusader’s cape could really make him fly – of course it didn’t.

As safety-conscious parents who genuinely don’t want their child to get hurt, we respond in a common-sense like manner to the mere stupidity as: Setting new rules – “You are only allowed to be SUPERMAN on the ground floor, upstairs you are CLARK KENT understood?” You lock all upstairs balcony doors. You keep a watchful vigil on your little man when he nears the stairwell and banisters; and you try to convince your child he can only really fly in an aeroplane. Now who’s the fool here?

While the TVs, supermarkets, newsagencies, bookstores and movie theatres are blaring with these fanciful, intelligence- insulting bimbos there still hails unsung heroes like police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, teachers, airline pilots, soldiers, naval officers, pastors and humanitarian workers….the list is endless…. even their own Mums and Dads. Whatever happened to “My Daddy is better than your Daddy” “My Daddy is…..My Daddy can.” My Mummy is….My Mummy can”.

Anyone who loves, protects and provides in the best interests of their families and goes that extra mile to help others are in my books, heroes. Here’s to SuperMum and SuperDad! And to all those other real heroes out there…..Cheers!

Copyright 2009. Rebecca Laklem.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Once we become parents, it becomes increasingly apparent that children learn things about life a lot earlier than the adult-world lets on. I’m talking Corporate Ladder stuff here. Yes, you heard me. Children learn from a very early age all about levels of authority.

Mum, he won’t come in when I tell him – “Then tell him, ‘Mum said’. The child learns Mum’s word carries an authority above his own.

Being the youngest of 7, Master 4 was quick to come into that knowledge. Usually a very obedient child, Master 4 had always obeyed me, until one day, I asked him to do something he really did not want to do. His response was “But Dad said….” (yet, I knew full well that Dad hadn’t said, and I told him as much). Point taken, he had learned that Daddy, as head of our home and family, has the last say on almost everything, the important stuff anyway.

As it goes, Master 4 had been fighting his daytime nap for sometime now. “I don’t want to go to sleep, it’s not nighttime yet”. (For the record…if no nap then we have a very upset, frustrated and cranky little man). It so happened not so long ago, Master 4 had been summoned by his father to take a nap. Amidst much protest, his father always won out and I would find him 'out like a light' a few minutes later sleeping peacefully. This occurred a few times, but one day, after being summoned, Master 4, was determined yet again not to take a nap. You could tell he was in deep thought and his mind was processing and churning. If Dad’s authority is higher than Mum’s then whose would be higher than Dad’s? He finally retorted: “But GOD said….we do not sleep in the daytime”.

Now who could beat that?

My husband’s response, “But God also says…. children must obey their parents, I’m your father, you are my son, now SLEEP” Less than a minute later, our little prophet was fast asleep.

Copyright 2007. Rebecca Laklem.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Birthdays, Cakes and Milestones

A few days ago, it was my birthday. Having gone ‘over the hill’ and sliding down the other side some already, this year was no big deal. I was quite happy to have it go unnoticed, since Hubby and the 2 older kids were not home anyway. Yet, still I felt as if it were a significant one, until my mother stated that the ‘milestone’ birthday was NEXT year.

I have discovered through the numerous birthdays I have already experienced, our tastes in celebrations grow, or more accurately, mature with each milestone in our life. With each and every milestone we pass, the stone gets a little more worn at the edges.

Our 3 year old son, greeted me that special morning with singing “Happy Birthday, Mum”, and “Are we going to Carrefour “? (his favourite shopping mall that sports a Children’s Play area, complete with coin rides, playland, mini car race, educational computer games, video games etc….a place that drives you insane with monotonous tunes especially designed to lure children playing all at the same time and just plain NOISE!!) His face lit up at the chocolate brownie cake, my 16 year old daughter had made, despite the lack of candles. (We had decided not to put any candles as the amount of candles needed would not fit onto the topside of the cake.) With eyes sparkling with great expectation, he insisted he was not going to miss out on anything and made sure I knew I had to share it all with him, all the while being told his birthday was coming very soon. How is it, that although a birthday celebration is about having a special day for the person whose birthday it is, the conversation is mainly about everyone else’s birthday? Anyway, that’s how it is in our household. Is it like that in yours?

It is interesting what gifts are given too, this birthday, I received a card saying, ‘Although you may have a few gray hairs coming on, you are still young at heart’….that’s not all…..all the gifts were as if there was some conspiracy to ‘doll’ me up. :-) Let the gifts speak for themselves: A beautiful Thai silk jacket from my Mum and Dad; a bath towel skirt, lipstick, lip-liner and a beautiful choker necklace from the kids. I tried on the lipstick and Master 3 exclaimed, “Look at Mummy….Ha Ha Ha”. (Now it’s hard to explain my little son’s laugh in words, it is not a giggle, nor even a snigger, it literally is Ha Ha Ha”). Really, had I let myself go that much?

Despite the many choices I had of the type of celebration I wanted, and it was my choice, I opted for a nice DVD to watch at home with the family topped with Mr Donut’s donuts and last but not least, Starbucks coffee. Nice and quiet. No balloons, no clowns, no party food, no candles to blow out, no loud fanfare noises of playland. We will have that in 10 days time!

With all the birthdays and anniversaries in our immediate family and beyond to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and sister-in-law – we fill every month of the year.

That said, next month is THE celebration month in our family….we have our youngest son’s birthday, our 21st wedding anniversary, 2 of our daughters’ birthdays a week apart and a cousin/niece’s birthday in- between. Doing my math here, that would be 5 celebrations in 17 days. Believe me, when it comes to birthdays, I have tried to combine them (especially the 3 girls’) but have since been told that it was not deemed fair as someone always missed out having a celebration on their actual birthday. That was quickly brought to a halt. So yes, we have 5 celebrations in a month.

If we include friends of the family as well, not to mention Christmas with one daughter’s birthday 3 days before, we may as well celebrate all year long. To say it all, we celebrate LIFE, every minute of every day, of every week, every month, 365 days a year, with a few balloons, cakes, presents, tinsel and lights thrown in here and there. Not bad eh! Not bad at all. LET’S CELEBRATE!!!

Copyright 2007. Rebecca Laklem.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Let There Be Light

Isn’t it a quirk of human nature, that we don’t really appreciate what we have until it is suddenly not there any more? Here in Thailand, you can get most of the mod cons, not like 40 so years ago when it still had traces of the old Siam. One of those timeless things is frequent blackouts during monsoon/rainy season. It rains all day, constantly non-stop except for small gaps of perhaps half an hour, wherein, if you are fortunate, you might get your clothes about half dry in that quick smile of the sun. Suddenly there is the distant rumble of thunder – the power blacks out.

You would think that, with this being a frequent occurence, we would be well prepared. Well, we do have flashlights/torches (and batteries); candles and matches; hurricane lamps etc. Yet, nothing prepares you for being in sudden blackness, the void of light enveloping you.

Immediately I become like a mother hen, ‘clucking’ and ‘gathering her chicks in’. Mustering a calm voice I call the younger ones names urging them to come carefully towards the sound of my voice, reaching out and grasping whatever limb or body part I first make contact with, be it hair, nose, ear, hand or foot. After finding one, I don’t let go, but continue groping and calling till all bodies are accounted for during all the “who turned the lights off” and “oh no I was just in the middle of….” Or “The computers … Pull the plugs!” “I’m scared!!” Amidst all this, I am trying to quench the little ones’ fear of the notorious dark…”It’s ok, it’s only a blackout, the house is still the same, nothing’s changed, there is nothing that is going to hurt you….just be calm and patient.” The teenagers and young adults of course, answer to the ‘roll call’, a necessity with a large family - you can’t just ‘count heads’ in a blackout can you?! Besides, rumour has it that ‘counting heads’ is not such an accurate calculator under any circumstance. (Have you ever seen ‘Home Alone’?)

Now, a blackout can last from as little as a few minutes to as long as several hours. With my ‘chicks’ all hemmed in, and while waiting for Hubby or one of the older kids to find the emergency lighting , and to the sound of drawers and cupboards opening and closing, I have become quite a pro at conjuring activities and games to play when you can’t even see your own hand in front of your face.

It all depends on the length of the blackout. The first being the counting game, counting until the lights come on, though this usually stops after we count up to about 500. The next one, figuring out who is sitting near us by ‘feeling’ their face if it can be found (it’s a glorified version of ‘blind-man’s bluff” and “pin the tail on the donkey” rolled into one). Next is the ‘discussion group’ talking about cause and effect; about who is able to get the power back on; what we would do once the power came back on etc. Believe me this can lead to a ‘million’ other topics. Great for teaching….you undoubtedly hold a captive audience here!

Once you have exhausted all of the above, you realize you are in for the long haul. Hubby then steps in with his famous ‘Sleep’ order. Everyone settles in for a hot and clammy night. With me and Hubby on ‘night watch’ keeping the hand fans going and sponging sweaty heads, all of us nodding off eventually and then, at some odd hour of the early morning we are rudely awakened by a dazzle of light in our faces, the TV blaring, and the hum of machinery warming up – the power is back on at last. Yay!!!

The shortest blackout I have come to experience is when I looked up towards my Lord and prayed: “I wish I could say “Let there be light….”. The lights instantly turned on! I could feel His Smile. Today looking back, it seems I was allowed that liberty only the once, but it brings a smile to my face whenever a blackout happens along. A candle glows in my heart that will never go out.

Rebecca Laklem. Copyright 2007.

Monday, April 16, 2007


You know your kids are watching too much TV when:

1. Your 3 year old is having a conversation with you when he starts quoting some line from a movie but he can’t say the word just right.

2. Your 6 year old is lip-syncing the whole DVD – in perfect timing.

3. Your 3 year old can recite by heart every single ad on TV without looking.

4. Your 3 year old starts repeatedly jumping off the bed yelling “I’m flying”

5. Your 3 year old sees a girl in a bikini and states "that ‘dusting"(disgusting).!!!

6. Your 6 year old starts lying in front of the fan acting like Ariel.

7. You start wondering if the remote control in fact does have legs.

8. The only DVDs you ever see in the player are from Walt Disney Pictures.

9. You have the theme song of ‘Lady and the Tramp’ or ‘Toy Story’ stuck in your head all night and you can't sleep.

10. You start lip-syncing Walt Disney Picture DVDs – in perfect timing.

11. You start answering the voice wafting from the other room and then realize there is no one there.

12. You start wondering if you are truly sane.

Copyright 2007. Rebecca Laklem.