Or rather, “thoughts on traveling with kids”. Or maybe just “thoughts on kids”. Who knows, this may end up just being “thoughts”.
I’ve been on a bit of a blog break in case you haven’t noticed, and it’s because we flew to Taiwan to see my parents. And since there’s currently a 13 hour difference, this wasn’t just a weekend trip. It was however, just long enough to overcome jet lag, spend quality time with my family, see a few sights, eat a lot, and then fly back to fight jet lag again.
1. Oh how I love thee, dear jet lag. You fill my life with sarcasm and exhaustion, solitude and quiet moments of joy. My kids wake up at 1:30 in the morning and since I don’t get enough sleep to begin with, I’ll just wake up right along with them, play a little Candy Crush, and listen to my son babble to himself about how he’s a very quiet superhero. I’ve also learned that even though my daughter can’t yet talk, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a penetrating babbling voice. So as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and wondering when daycare opens, I listen to see if each will wake the other up with their nonsensical and yet adorable linguistic gymnastics.
Waking up at 4:30 also means there’s plenty of time for a relaxing and drawn out breakfast, nap time starts at 8 am, and if I’m lucky, I’m done with daily essential tasks by 9:30am. A whole sun filled day stretches before me and I look forward to snuggling with my baby, getting some random work done, and then of course, being in bed by 8pm.
2. My kids are adorable. I mean, just look at them. We turned heads everywhere we went. Are you surprised? Young and old, almost every person who saw either the overly loud American toddler or surprisingly quiet baby just HAD to make a comment about how cute or beautiful they were. We were asked if they were “hybrid”, which one was a boy and which one was a girl, and whether J’s full head of curls was natural. Apparently, there are some in Taiwan who perm their kids’ hair, to follow a Western fad possibly?
3. Despite the cuteness, a few problematic issues were uncovered. As in, disciplinary issues. And behavioral issues. There were things that I never noticed being at home and being hermits, but seen from another’s eyes, I’ve realized my kid definitely does not embody the “children should be seen and not heard” saying. Between fielding tantrums on the subway, yelling at a toddler who doesn’t listen, not ever sleeping more than 2 hours at a time, and trying to put on a semblance of “perfection” for my parents, there were many times I felt like I was one soup dumpling away from completely losing it.
I got to spend some quiet time with my mom, who gave me her perspective on my current situation, and it bummed me out. Maybe 20 years ago I would have been defensive and mad, but now, I just appreciated the wake up call. It’s like being in a bad relationship but not admitting it to yourself until someone who loves you enough to care decides to slap you upside the head and makes you see how far you might have gone down the wrong path. When did I end up spoiling my child? When did I no longer notice or correct unwanted behavior? I felt ashamed that as a parent, I let it get this far, stressed at how I was supposed to turn things around, and really, just plain exhausted at being on edge all day.
Our pediatrician says that after a long trip, you are so completely back-asswards (my words, not his) that you can change anything about your routine all at once. So, here we are, changing things. More consistency, more routine, more discipline and less of the overly protective overly paranoid parenting. Maybe. We’re still in the fog of jet lag, so who knows what sort of routine we might end up with.
4. I miss eating cheaply. There was a glut of little food stalls and restaurants around my parents’ apartment and all we had to do was choose which direction to walk in each day. I miss not cooking, and not having to do the dishes. Oh yeah, and I miss the food.
Photo via my sister. This hotpot cost US $4.
Photo via my sister.
5. Having parents around is such a blessing. Even in the midst of the stress, it felt so wonderful to be with my parents, to see them with their grandchildren, and be able to occasionally dump my kids on them so Drew and I could have a moment to ourselves. My sister also traveled with us, and we got a chance to explore a bit of Taipei on our own, without diaper bags, strollers, baby carriers and actually had lunch at a standing only sushi bar. Can you imagine doing that with kids? Uh, not so much. Only the anxiety of a 15 hour plane ride with 2 kids prevented me from bawling when we left.
Sushi from Addiction Aquatic Development
I guess that’s it for now. My mind is a bit blank, or rather, it’s moved on to thinking about my next meal. Oh. wait. Speaking of next meal…
6. It’s time to go on a diet. I still had a bit of a post-baby belly before I left on the trip. And now? Would you believe that when I went to get a massage, the guy asked me if I was pregnant? Oh boy. Mortification! Secretly looks around to see if anyone heard. Good thing Drew doesn’t understand Chinese. Looks down and sadly pats buddha belly full of good food and thinks, yup, it’s time. No more hot pot, sugary bubble teas, crazy snacks.
What would you do? Ok, now I’m done. And since it’s always good to engage my readers, here’s a question for you. How do you deal with people (random strangers) who talk to you about your child-raising capabilities? We had people tell us to put a hat on my daughter, to put a blanket over my daughter, who pointed at my son when he acted up, who talked to my son randomly and seemed shocked that I haven’t taught him my “mother tongue”. I try to be polite, but a part of me honestly wanted to send laser rays with my eyes to warn people off. What about you? Do you take it nicely? Do you engage in conversation or tell them off?