Two four year olds stand before me, hands on hips.
‘Is there Birthday cake?’ one demands.
‘Is the Cake Raw?’ the other asks.
‘Is the cake Vegan. Because I’m Vegan,’ says the other.
‘Well, what will I eat?’
‘Um…'(I don’t know but I’m thinking there’ll be more cake for me). I walk off without finishing the sentence.
‘Sugar’s bad!’ They chant to my back.
Then we all trek off on a rice paddy walk…enjoy the scenery…walk in the subak…the man explained. So off we toddled.
Ten meters in the first casualty hit. A scream. A child has fallen in the rice paddy head first.
I plaster on a smile and usher the other kids along like Mary Poppins on Ecstasy… ‘oh look isn’t this fun everyone? It’s only a bit of mud!’
‘What are we doing here mummy?’ Alula asks po-faced.
‘We’re on a nature walk, it’s fun. It won’t be for long.’
‘The grass is itchy. I want a carry. I hate this.’
‘Ok, I’ll carry you.’
Second casualty – another child survives a fall into the mud.
Third casualty – one of the mothers falls sideways three feet. She is fine but her shoes disappear, sucked into the rice paddy’s void.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I say, cringing at her mud-splattered trousers and bare feet.
She laughs but I see the rage behind her eyes.
‘This is not a success, mummy,’ Alula announces as I tried to tiptoe delicately along the two inch width of the rice paddy verge whilst holding her and the camera and simultaneously trying to apologise to women and children who are crying and limping.
‘No, no it’s fine darling,’ I whisper so as not to be overheard when secretly I’m thinking whose bloody idea was this? Oh yes, good one John. And there goes my shoe. My new leather shoe. Coated, destroyed, lashed with mud.
Bet the vegan / raw girls would be laughing over the karma of that one.
Then we get to the cake cutting part.
‘I get the biggest piece,’ this older kid announces, shoveling his way to the front and sticking his nose into the icing.
‘Err, actually I think I do,’ I say, thinking to myself, who’s got the knife kid?
‘Well I get the first piece,’ he counters.
‘No actually the birthday girl gets the first piece,’ I say lightly, ‘and no one gets any cake unless they say please and thank you!’ See that grin fixed on my face. See the danger signs Kid? There’s a whole field of mud just over there which I’m perfectly willing to throw you in.
‘Wow,’ the kid says, ‘Do you know who’s paying for all this? This is like going to cost millions…and millions.’
I’m still holding the knife. Ok, it’s only plastic. But I could use it to smear icing over his head. Then push him backwards into the paddy.
‘Where’s my goodie bag?’ he demands.
I put the knife down. Slowly. Carefully.
‘We’re all out of goodie bags,’ I say smiling like a Stepford wife.
When we get home I pour myself a Bottle of Gin with a splash of tonic. And order up a massage and sushi delivery.
And stuff myself with the three portions of cake leftover.