Mr. Confidence

15 Aug

Z, grinning, coming off slide with rubber ring. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Sometimes, something happens which makes you look at your child with new eyes.

This morning, Z and I were at Poring Hot Springs, the sulphurous waters which seethe out of the jungly lowlands in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. They function, if not as a panacea, at least as a salve for muscles recovering from ascending 800-plus metres of said mountain then descending more than 2 kilometres of it.

In a single day.

After a 2am start.

I use the term recovery, of course, loosely. Z, being nine, had no recovery to do. Me? Well, my quads are still humming the theme to Chariots of Fire — suck on THAT, Rosemary Conley! – and my calves flinch at the slightest hint of a step. But the show pony hobble has gone and I’m confident I can carry a backpack without buckling under it. (I like to leave the buckling to gentlemen who kindly swing it off my back.)

stepped pools and waterslide against verdant backdrop of lowland forest. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Borneo, Malaysia.

Anywise. Besides the hot, outdoor baths we technically came for (which fill at speeds from glacial to leisurely), and a butterfly garden and orchid garden for which torrential Borneo rain stopped play, the hot springs feature these beautiful series of stepped pools, with a little waterslide winding down besides them. For which my enthusiasm faded the second Z pointed out it was cold, leaving me to spectate poolside.

And, among the assembled kids, were two little Malaysian boys, whose ages I’d guesstimate at nine and eleven, bombing down the slide as a pair on two rubber rings.

Z watches, briefly. Then makes his move. He bounces up to them, casually, brandishing his inflatable and a big grin, and begins to explain, jollily, using a lot of sign language, how the three of them could do something REALLY COOL if they joined forces, using their three rubber rings and three pre-tween forms.

The boys grin back. It’s clearly a good idea, whatever it is.

And they’re off. Bombing down the slide, in different permutations. Rings stacked, linked, thrown ahead and then leapt onto. Boys descending conga style, arms linked, one after the other, crashing into one another… And each time, the smiling, the grinning, the natural, effortless interaction.

It brought home to me, I guess, just quite how much Z’s confidence has grown over the last few months of travelling. Not just in dealing with adults, negotiating new places, finding his way around…

But in dealing with his peers. Because that was a tough thing to do. Inserting himself confidently, instantly into a game with two brothers, in a new country, where English is a second, third or fourth language for most, putting forward his own ideas and having them accepted, but not taking over the game. Without waiting, shilly-shallying, being scared of rejection…

It’s tougher, in many ways, than the more adult tasks he’ll quite happily take upon himself.

He can walk into a guesthouse, establish whether they have rooms available (taking staff bewilderment in his stride) check the price, check the facilities and check out a room, with me sat in a cafe opposite with the bags. He can take himself round the corner in a new town or city and buy his own snacks from the sweetshop (or equivalent).

He can haggle like an absolute demon, knock back touts with the best of them, chat up older women with a confidence many grown chaps would envy, deal with all kinds of food situations and participate in adult conversations with ease.

He’s trekked routes that no Western child has trekked before, scaled a mountain which beats plenty of fit, strong adults, towed a substantial adult diver in full kit 25m on the surface of the water…

He got the cheapo Nokia I bought working, is teaching me the finer points of Skype, is more fluent on both his PC and my Mac than I am, and imbibes new language like a sponge.

But for some reason that little moment earlier really impressed me. Perhaps because in London he tended to the quiet side. Happiest with his close circle of friends — with whom he’s still in regular touch. Never one to put himself forward. Never a show off.

He’s grown in so many ways over the last half year, with more ways to grow still. And I’m really excited about the person he’s becoming.

Though he’s still my little boy.

Z having a cuddle with his grandfather on his grandparents' last night in Borneo.

And Grandpa’s, too.

Similar Posts

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

9 Responses to “Mr. Confidence”

  1. LL August 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    I love reading about how self sufficient he is. I think traveling is such a fantastic way to build kids confidence. I am in aww every time I read your blog of what an amazing thing this is that you and your son are doing. It’s just cool beyond words, or measure. Z is certainly going to grow up to be an amazing individual.

    • MummyT August 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

      well, i think you’re doing some pretty amazing stuff yourself. from a really tough start, by the sound of things. how long before you head back stateside?

  2. JMorgan August 17, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now, trying to keep up with all the things you’ve seen and done. You have my greatest respect for your desire to raise Z with a greater understanding of the world in a way I never had growing up. While I’ve traveled with family and am beginning to venture out more on my own at 33, I have quite a lot of catching up to do.

    More people should take the time to travel like you do, especially with children.

    • MummyT August 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

      Ah, thank you! It’s like the great quote from Tony and Maureen Wheeler: “The hardest part is deciding to go. The rest is easy.”

    • MummyT August 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words. And do travel…

  3. Angela August 18, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    Amazing description of the confidence! I’m constantly stunned by our son’s ability to make friends and talk to young and old alike. Hope to meet up with you in South America, I think the boys would get along fabulously!

    • MummyT August 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

      I hope so too! And, yes, I’m sure they would… It’s amazing what it does for children, isn’t it?

  4. Victoria August 21, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    I love this post. It makes me think that maybe we’re doing a good thing for our children, not just something for ourselves. I’ve had a really good read of your blog this afternoon. I’m starting to get excited. Only 2.5 months until we set off!

    • MummyT August 26, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

      You are definitely doing a good thing for them, though I think for most normal humans it starts off as something we, qua adults, would enjoy doing WITH our children, rather than a good thing FOR them. What is your departure date? It’s LA you do first, isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: