Thursday, 26 February 2015

Laotian fried pork

My photos will all be crap iPhone photos from now on because we were burgled and my camera was stolen. SAD FACE

I fell to talking the other day to someone about Sam's sleeping. Specifically, about how he still wakes up once in the night at 21.5 months (i.e. NEARLY TWO YEARS OLD). He wants a bottle and also needs his nappy changed as otherwise it leaks all over the bed.

They were shocked. Their mouth hung open. "You're up once a night. EVERY night?" They knew how well Kitty has always slept, how ferocious I was about it, about her. They were genuinely stunned that I was up once a night. It was as if Gina Ford herself was standing there shrugging her shoulders going "Yeah, it's not the end of the world."

I found myself in a metaphorical corner, on the back foot, stuttering, making excuses of the sort that I used to not be able to stand in other parents - about how it was cute when their kids came into bed with them so they couldn't say no, or about how they couldn't drop this breastfeed or that breastfeed because it was their special time with them or whatever. I would dismiss them as weak minded -in Victorian times they'd have been sent to a loony bin with a diagnosis of water on the brain.

But here I am, now, defending my continued co-dependency on this once-a-night thing I've got with Sam. Wake up, totter up to his room, new bottle, nappy change, a pat on the head and then back down to sleep.

I have tried to stop it. On five separate occasions I've let him scream his head off for hour in the night for about two or three nights, when I had failed to appear for this bottle-nappy tryst. It does work, for about a week, and he goes quiet all night and I feel sad but also victorious. And then it starts all over again, he wakes up and cries in the night and I, surprised and unsuspecting, give him the thing I know that will make him go back to sleep. Five times I've done this horrible ritual of letting him cry. And although it's said to be the thing that absolutely, definitively works - which offsets the horribleness of it, it doesn't actually seem to work, not long-term. Advocates of it say "it's just three nights - three bad night and then you'll all be sleeping all night and it will be worth it". Sam disagrees.

And the thing is, I'm not tired. I mean, of course I'm tired, we're all tired. We're all dying here,  but I'm just not tired enough to be driven to extended sessions of letting Sam scream his head off at night. I just don't want to listen to it any more. I don't want to have to grit my teeth through it any more. I'm done, finished. I can't be arsed. I feel, with Sam now walking and talking and suddenly being - just between you and me, very charming and easy -  like I've just finished my A Levels. So to ask me to sort out this once-a-night thing is a bit like now asking me to fill out a long tax return or sit an S Level when what I really want is to sit under a tree with a pint of cloudy lemonade and a bag of Hula Hoops, reading Riders.

There's more. I have always felt mildly fraudulent as a parent when all I had was one child who slept like a log. There was a real lack of authenticity about me. Don't get me wrong, I was grateful - and also absolutely and entirely terrified of sleep-deprivation, but still... there was something so real, so tough and so admirable about those women who had non-sleepers or bad sleepers, who just fucking did it and got through it. The fact that Sam wakes up once in the night and I can just cope with it - specifically because, I think, of my former crippling sleep-deprivation fears - is a perverse mark of pride.

This person made me feel bad and judged and a bit ashamed at first but then I looked at the true fear in their eyes of being woken up at night and I thought back to how I used to be - so, so scared of losing even 15 minutes' of sleep. I saw that same look, I recognised it for what it was and I thought: "Oh, grow up."

In my quest for everything to taste a bit like takeaway, here is a delightful fried pork thing, which is mostly aubergine and courgette, very easy to make and particularly good with Esther's Takeout Broccoli (q.v.)

Laotian fried pork
For 2 with leftovers

150g minced pork
1 aubergine
1 courgette
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp oyster sauce
3 spring onions
1 red chilli
pinch sugar
pinch salt

1 Chop the aubergine and courgette up into cubes and fry in some groundnut oil until collapsed - about 10-15 minutes. Remove to a bowl

2 Crush or grate or slice the garlic and add it to the empty pan and cook gently until it has coloured. Then add the pork mince and cook over a reasonably high heat until the pork is rubbly and dry

3 Chop the spring onions and the chilli and add these and cook for a few minutes, then throw over the sugar, salt and oyster sauce. If you're using a decent oyster sauce it won't itself have an awful lot of sugar and salt in it so you can be fairly generous with your "pinches" of these.

4 Add the aubergine and courgette back to the pan, stir for a bit, maybe add some water from the kettle if you'd like it with a bit of a sauce.

Eat and think to yourself "he'll grow out of it eventually".

Where's Sammy's foot?


  1. Oh man, he's gorgeous. Who wouldn't want to get up to get a look at him in the middle of the night? The "he'll grow out of it" mantra is a valuable one. I chant it all day long, about everything. The throwing food all around the room? She'll grow out of it. The pissy attitude? She (the other she)'ll grow out of it. The inability to sit without his hand down his boxers? He'll grow out of it. (Actually, I'm not so sure about that one.) Oh, and for what it's worth, I think the whole sleeping thing gets turned on its head out of the blue every now and then for years. Older girl slept like a log her whole life - 4+ years - until two months ago and now she's in our room three times a night. WTF? (she'llgrowoutofitshe'llgrowoutofitGETBACKTOYOUROWNBED etc)

    1. YES kitty (4yo) is doing this too. Fucking dementing.

  2. It'll pass, do what you feel is right. Couldn't give a rat's ass what other people think. Won't be long before he's bringing home inappropriate girls and borrowing the car at weekends.

    (Pork thing looks ace by the way)

  3. Our 3yo will also wakes for milk, and a nappy, every night. Our weekly milk bill is huge! But like his sister (how grew out of it at age 4) we will grow out of it too.... And the people who say the "3nights of screaming and then blissfully sleep" have not met my children. My two resisted ALL attempts to modify their sleep behaviour. On the sleep front, they are in charge. Sigh. He will grow out of it!!

  4. My younger son (now 18 - how did that happen?) woke every night until he was at least 4 - I too used to think I shouldn't be doing this but took the easy way out and let him carry on. In those days the boys' bedroom was downstairs and ours upstairs so he would appear by the side of my bed like a little lost soul in the early hours of the morning - I'd let him in for a snuggle for 5 minutes then I'd lift back the duvet and say "you've got to go back to your own bed now" and let him go back by himself (looking back this now seems ridiculously cruel but I figured if he could get there by himself he didn't need me to see him back to bed!) And then one day I just said to him during the daytime - I can't go on being woken up in the night - you have to stop coming up - AND IT WORKED!!!!!! He simply moved snuggle time until the morning when it was the best thing in the world to have that snuggly soft little face crushed up next to mine. Ah those were the days! Now I'm lucky if I don't get an elbow in the face when I try and sneak a hug :-) I'm a great believer in doing what suits you not others when it comes to children - eventually they grow out of everything - and often into other rather alarming habits but that's another story. The challenges of raising your offspring don't ever go away - they just become different challenges. Pork looks delicious - will definitely give it a try. Thanks for your great blog - I love it :-)

  5. Woah, wait, you got BURGLED??
    Are you ok? Xx

  6. Elizabeth Medovnik1 March 2015 at 20:28

    Wow, he's absolutely scrumptious!

  7. He is soooooo cute!

    My older one sleeps like a log and I am also afraid of losing even FIVE minutes of sleep...I am cringing at the very thought that there are babies/kids who do not sleep through the night...Now that my second is on the way I am slowly trying to come to terms that my nights of sleeping blissfully are coming to least for a while...hopefully he or she will look up to their big bro who sleeps like a champ :-)

  8. Thaaank you for this recipe. It was a happy day when I found that oyster sauce doesn't contain soy. I'm on a dairy, soya & egg-free diet because my breastfed twins have food intolerances. I know I'm in it for the long haul as I breastfed their older brother til 18 months, but at least this recipe is properly sorting out my craving for Asian food. *wails* It's been over 6 months since my last stir fry!