Pillow Puddles, Food Blobs, and Boob Jabs

Leaky yurt repair.

The other night, only my second on the farm, I was laying in my comfy bed inside a super cozy yurt in a rainstorm. A rather relaxing experience, really. Until that first drop of water landed on my pillow. I turned the light on to find that I was under attack by drips from all sides and that my pillow puddle was growing ever larger. My solution was to pull the heavy bed a bit more into the middle of the yurt, flip my pillow over, and to relocate to the other side of the bed in the hope that the puddle wouldn’t seep too far in my direction.

It was the end to what was a bit of a challenging first full day on my work exchange in Portugal. Don’t get me wrong, things here so far are pretty great – the family is super nice, they feed me delicious food, they’ve got a great spot on a beautiful piece of land, and the work has been physical and mostly mindless so far which is what I was hoping for (because I’m weird like that).

The problem in this scenario is me. The couple I’m staying with have two young kids aged three and four. I’m not used to being around kids, especially ones who are so energetic and curious. So of course, sensing my apprehension, they want to show me their Lego trucks (which is cool), scream in my face about everything (which is less cool), and jump on me with a running start (which is way less cool). I mean, I’m probably more into their Lego than they are and I am just so interesting and jump-on-able, so I can hardly blame them, but the first couple of days here have felt a bit like a relentless onslaught.

Hello, chicken! I like your coop.

I eat with everyone as a family which is part of whole the work exchange experience but, as anyone with young kids may be able to tell you, meal times can be a battle of wills between parents and kids. In this case so far there has been some screaming, some food throwing, and the occasional blob of food chewed up and spat back onto the plate. Parents are yelling at kids, kid is yelling at other kid, and I’m just sitting there like a weirdo getting anxious and not sure what to do with myself.

All of this is probably normal child behaviour but it stresses me out. In an effort to regain my inner zen, I’ve figured out when their nap times are and I’ll attempt to show my face in the common area as much in those blocks of time as possible. A bit of kid-focused chat and play time over lunch and dinner before I flee is plenty, right? Or am I being a terrible person? Is it bad to plan my day around when the kids are sleeping?

But the point of this post isn’t to out myself as a freak who gets stirred up by kids being kids, it’s to remind myself that few situations are ideal and it’s all about focusing on the good instead of the challenges. Perhaps the first couple of days of this experience will force me into hiding, or perhaps I’ll develop some sort of an awesome child-jumping defense move where no children are injured and I don’t get jabbed hard in the left boob, or maybe I’ll even grow to love the boob-jabs and the two munchkins who dole them out. Who knows. What I have learned for sure is that perhaps families with super rambunctious young kids shouldn’t be my first choice for this sort of thing. See? A positive lesson there.

Lemon and Orange Trees

So as the rain last night chucked it down harder and harder and as the puddle on my mattress grew, I had a bit of a ‘holy crap, what have I done?’ moment. Somehow a leaky roof and a chaotic meal was blown out of proportion in my mind to mean something along the lines of ‘coming to Portugal has been a huge mistake!’, because that’s the logical next step, right? Because that’s the sort of a conclusion a person should jump to after less than three days in a place, right?

No. I see this now. Order has been restored, all is good in the world, and I’m about to put on a brave face and go out to face the children at dinner. Wish me luck.