I have a well-documented hatred for mosquitoes (here, here, here, here, here, and here). My hatred for mosquitoes has only grown since having D1 and D2. Not only because of the diseases they can carry but because D1 and D2 scratch the crap out of their bites. I’m not gonna lie – there’ve been instances where I’ll tell D1, “D1, stop scratching your mosquito bites!” only to have my wife tell me, “Uhhh, hun. You’re scratching yours…” ^_^
To make matters worse, my parents read an article in the Korean Newspaper that talked about malaria and other diseases mosquitoes can carry shortly before we left for Thailand (for those planning on traveling to Thailand with kids, malaria can be a problem in some areas according to the CDC). If you know anything about Korean immigrants, they believe everything the newspaper says (think Fox News). So for about 2 weeks, I kept hearing how we need to protect our kids from mosquitoes every.single.day. from my parents.
In previous visits to Thailand, I’ve found that mosquitoes love me. The locals say it’s because I’m fat (seriously, I’m an XL there; M to L here) and I eat a lot of sugar (guilty). The nice thing is, even mosquitoes in Thailand don’t mess with the heat, so you don’t have to worry about being bitten between 10am and 5pm. But after that, it’s like a high blood sugar buffet for those pests when I’m there.
So on Sunday, July 17, we were heading up to our pastor friend’s home for dinner around 7pm. D1 and I playfully ran ahead of my wife, D2, our pastor friend, his wife, and 2 of his kids. We raced up the hill, and as usual, she won. I opened the door to enter the house and told D1, “HURRY! Or mosquitoes will come in.” We enter the doorway and I tell her to take off her shoes. I go to close the door since we’re both inside and then D1 SCREAMS! I look down thinking that something bit her feet and see nothing. She continues to scream and I look over at the door and I closed the door on her finger. I figured it’d just be bruised and calmly opened the door.
Now my wife and I aren’t the type to normally cuss, but I definitely screamed *($##^* in my mind. Her hand was positioned in the doorway in such a way that my closing the door on it caused the fingernail of her right index finger to tear completely off of her finger and loosely hang on by a sliver of skin, and was bleeding profusely. I remained calm, or at least tried to, picked her up, and slowly walked back towards the rest of the group, who had just made it up the hill. I calmly call out, “I think I need some help.” Once everyone saw the finger, they knew we had to rush to the hospital.
*&%* You are such an *#$&ing idiot! I repeating to myself in my mind. Not even a week into the trip and I hurt D1 like that. We put an ice pack on the finger and rush to the nearest hospital.
But what was amazing was how the day worked out. We tried to put D1 down for a nap earlier, but for whatever reason, she would not nap. So by this point, she was so utterly exhausted that she slept through the entire ride over to the hospital. Thank God.
When we get to the hospital, the doctors decide to clip the little bit of skin and take the fingernail off. So far, she’d been a trooper but no one likes getting open wounds cleaned, and she about screamed her head off.
The doctor taped it up with a lot of gauze and told us to keep it dry and come in for cleanings daily for about a week. Great….keeping a toddler’s finger dry in the rainy season in Thailand.
On the ride home, she’s still exhausted and looks sleepy. I’m feeling horrible at this point and replaying that moment over and over and over and over. Why the #$& was I so concerned about mosquitoes?!?! I’m such an idiot!!! GAH!!!!
In the softest whisper…”daddy, I love you.”
If that’s not grace, I don’t know what is.
The doctors prescribed a crap load of medication, mostly antibiotics and pain meds. But since she missed her nap earlier, she was absolutely exhausted and slept through the night without any medication.
Thankfully, there’s a nurse on-site at the hostel we stayed at, so she was able to clean it – my wife ended up calling the saline solution she used to rinse D1’s finger princess water. That made the daily cleanings much more fun.
It was a challenge keeping the gauze dry and concern over it getting infected did wonders for my prayer life.
It’s sad for me to admit, but it took me injuring her, her courage through the situation, and the grace she showed me that began a change of heart in me.
Most parents will tell you that their parenting performance and patience often coincides with the amount of sleep they are getting. Or maybe it’s just me. In any event, I didn’t get much sleep because 1) the hotel room didn’t have a thermostat and the room was cold, 2) just outside of our room was a speaker system for the airport that blared as flights arrived and passengers boarded throughout the night, and 3) D2 somehow ends up sideways and/or performs innate wrestling maneuvers on me whenever we sleep on the same bed. Safe to say I was pretty exhausted.
We got the kids ready and headed to breakfast, which was included with our room reservation. For those of you who’ve applauded my wife and my
stupidity bravery for traveling internationally with two kids, this was the thought that scared me even more: we’d essentially be eating out for every meal for one whole month. You see, there was a time when my wife and I enjoyed going out to eat, but now, we rush through meals outside of our home as quickly as possible. If Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale brings out the crazy in shoppers, eating out brings out the crazy in babies. Combined with the fact that D1 has been getting incredibly picky with her food, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to meals. This was made even more depressing since the only thing my wife and I love more than the wonderful people in Thailand is their food.
In any event, we made it through breakfast and after some difficulty finding our gate, we boarded our flight to Chiang Rai.
Traveling with Kids Tip #1: Simply asking your child, “Do you need to pee?” is not sufficient. Remember how neurotic you may have been for your first child’s feeds, even spending money on things like the Itzbeen, and calling your pediatrician because your newborn hasn’t had a wet diaper in a while? This is how you need to be when you’re traveling with kids. If it’s been a while since your child has gone to the potty, you need to sit ’em down on the pot and use Jedi mind tricks, the shhhhhhhhhhhhhh or UNGaaaaaah sounds, or whatever else you can think of to coax them into answering nature’s call. Even if it’s the tiniest drop of pee, trust me, that tiny drop could mean the difference between making it to the potty the next time. Also, you haven’t really lived until you’ve had to climb a massive hill to your hotel with a child that just said she needs to poop, your legs and lungs failing you.
After 36 hours of traveling, we made it to Chiang Rai, Thailand! We were greeted by our pastor friend at the airport and all the madness of traveling with 2 kids instantly disappeared. D1 was super excited as she got to ride in a car without a carseat. We settled into our guesthouse, which we would call home for the next month.
The rest of our missions team was arriving in about a week and my family and I enjoyed a great time of enjoying the beautiful sights and catching up with old friends. We also got to enjoy this goodness:
Fresh BBQ chicken. The chicken in Thailand are puny compared to their American counterparts since they generally don’t use any growth hormones. The chickens sold at this particular shop are free-range and delicious!
This may sound like heresy but this tastes better than bacon, mostly because it’s smoked bacon with the skin on and cooked to crunchy perfection.
And of course, Mister Donut! The only thing Stateside that I know of that comes close to these donuts is Einstein Bros. Bagels – the donuts are made of some sort of rice flour so they’re really chewy and have all the fried taste without any of the grease.
Things were going wonderfully until I made a huge, huge mistake.
I awoke the morning of Saturday, July 9 filled with anxiety. On my way to our bathroom in the basement, I noticed all of our bags sitting in the living room: 1 suitcase full of our stuff, 1 suitcase full of our kids’ stuff, 1 suitcase full of gifts, D1’s book bag full of books, my bookbag, my wife’s bookbag, a Baby Taylor, our moneybelts, the ergo, a pack ‘n play, and a partridge in a pear tree. Were we moving out or were we going on a 1-month missions trip to Thailand? The packed bags confirmed that after nearly a year of planning, the day had finally arrived.
The kids were still asleep, so I didn’t even consider waking them up and I let my wife sleep in since she packed all of our bags the night before (two of the myriad of things my wife is better than me at are folding clothes and packing bags). So I took out our itinerary and read it over for the 50 millionth time.
Depart: Washington Dulles Int’l Airport 9 July 2011, 1:25 PM (EST)
Arrive: Seoul Incheon International 10 July 2011, 4:35 PM (Local time)
Depart: Seoul Incheon International 10 July 2011, 5:40 PM
Arrive: Bangkok Int’l Airport 9:10 PM (local time)
Depart: Bangkok Int’l Airport 11 July 2011, 8:15 AM
Arrive: Chiang Rai Airport 9:35 AM
That’s 21 hours of air travel and 12 hours and 10 minutes of layovers. From the time we planned on leaving our home until we arrived in Chiang Rai was about 36 hours.
My wife and I had already taken D1 on a whirlwind tour of Thailand and Korea in 2009, so the length of the travel didn’t necessarily worry me. What gave me pause this time was 1) we now have 2 kids and D2 just reached her I’m-mobile-now-and-I’m-going-to-go-everywhere-and-put-everything-in-my-mouth stage, 2) our family was under quite a bit of stress the past few months with moving out, running into difficulty selling our home, and acclimating to life with my parents, among other things, 3) D1 was now potty trained, which is usually a good thing but for travel? Diapers are a godsend, and 4) the entire family had a summer cold.
Additionally, in 2009, we went to Thailand on a family vacation to visit the people we fell in love with and became friends with after leading two missions teams in 2006 and 2007. This year, we were leading a missions team from our church – they would be joining us in Thailand a week after we got there. As team leaders, my wife and I certainly had our fair share of concerns on how this would work out.
Wife and kids finally awoke, we got ready, and headed off to the airport, all of our bags–and anxiety–in tow.
We were greeted at the airport by quite a few members from our church, who prayed for us as we embarked on our first family missions trip. We definitely felt the love, especially D1 from a certain boy her age from our church who kissed her repeatedly. Ridiculously cute at this age; a punishable offense in a few years.
The great thing about flying Korean Air is that parents with small children get to board first, along with the elderly, those needing assistance and pregnant women. Maybe it’s like that for all international flights? In any case, it’s super convenient to have all of your stuff put away and to get situated before all the other passengers board. Not to mention the food on Korean Air is ridiculously good and the flight attendants are super nice (I even saw a group of them assist a mother who was traveling alone with 2 sons, probably the same age as D1 and D2 by holding and walking around with the younger child).
Normally, we don’t let D1 watch much television but on this trip, we relaxed the rules. A lot. Which would continue to be a recurring theme on the trip. She pretty much watched Pororo for the entire trip. We also had fun with D2 and stickers.
The flight was decent, save for us getting the death stare from all the other passengers whenever D2 would cry and D1 having to pee at the most inopportune times, i.e., when the bathrooms were always all occupied. Needless to say, we had a few very close calls.
Once we got into Incheon is when the trip started getting interesting. All of us were tired and cranky – or maybe it was just me? D2’s no lightweight, so my wife couldn’t move that fast and I was the family pack mule, carrying most of the bags, so I held D1’s hand. Usually in airports, I like to rush rush rush rush rush but D1’s short little legs couldn’t carry her that fast. So on more than one occasion, I ended up dragging her along. Oops. All of us were really tired and could’ve definitely used some rest, but by the time we got comfortable at our gate, it was time to board our flight to Bangkok.
This flight was much more difficult, with D1 and D2 both taking turns throwing mini tantrums. As we neared our destination, both of them passed out. So of course, they were ridiculously cranky when we woke them up to get off the plane. The only thing less fun than carrying a 30+lb child through an airport is carrying a wailing 30+lb child through an airport.
Being the clever dad I think I am, I asked D1 if she needs to pee when we walk past a restroom, to which she replies no. Of course, when we have long since passed the bathroom, she screams, “PEE PEE!” I drop all of our bags and hustle to find the nearest bathroom. I find one, plop her down on the seat and immediately, ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’. *whew* Crisis averted.
We finally made it to our hotel for the night, Louis’ Tavern Transit Hotel, absolutely spent and ready for bed. But of course, the kids are in no mood to sleep.
At this point, I wish I had good thoughts toward my kids, but the only words I could think of to describe them at this point of the trip was ‘nuisance’ and ‘burden’. I longed for the days when it was just my wife and I traveling. When we didn’t have to worry about bladders the size of a pea and it was us complaining about the babies crying on the plane.
We finally got the girls to go down. Just before I passed out, I hoped tomorrow would be a better day. It wasn’t.
For many, this won’t be your cup of tea, but these are some of the things I’ve been thinking about as of late.
Narcissism vs. Altruism
As awesome and helpful, not to mention powerful, as social media is, it can also be problematic. Personally, it has often encouraged narcissism in me. Granted, I’ve never humblebragged, because quite frankly, I don’t have much to humble brag about, but status updates by their nature are often, “Hey! Look what I’m doing! Read how funny I am and what a witty take I have on this recent news story! See where I’m ‘checking in’?! Look at how cute my kids/pets are!” And yes, I will share this blog post on Facebook and Twitter because I think it’s worth my follower’s time.
And as my kids grow up in a world increasingly engaged in and reliant on social media, I wonder what kind of virtues that will encourage in them. What I hope my wife and I, and the support group we surround our kids with will instill in them is altruism. My hope is that they wouldn’t find their value in how great they think they are, but in how great they are to others.
The great thing about social media is that it gives a voice to people with great ideas who might otherwise not have an avenue to share. The flip side is that it gives a platform to people who probably shouldn’t have an audience to propagate their hate and/or stupidity. I hope my kids will fall into the former, not the latter.
Speaking of hate and stupidity, it always puzzles me when Christians declare natural disasters as a sign of God’s judgement. Are earthquakes, floods, etc…a sign of God’s judgement? Maybe. But that’s for Him to decide. Unless your name is Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, or Samson, I’m pretty sure God didn’t appoint you as a Judge. What He did appoint us to do was to go and bear fruit (John 15:16) and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you (Matt 28:19-20).
And how did Jesus make disciples? Yes, He did often say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” but He made disciples by calling forth destiny in people, not calling down judgement. He loved His disciples; He didn’t scare them into obedience.
How to Pray
Lately, I’ve been learning what it means to be a son of God, mostly by observing my daughter.
For example, I took my daughter to Baskin Robbins a few weeks back. Unable to see what’s going on, she shouts to me to pick her up. When I do, she no longer sees things from her perspective; she sees what I see. This is the picture I now get when I sing songs or pray about being in God’s arms – He picks me up to see His perspective.
The other day, my daughter asks me for chocolate. We had to take her to the emergency room a few weeks back for dermatitis/cellulitis and getting her to take antibiotics proved difficult. So we did what any parents who want to save their sanity would do: bribe ’em. As a result, my daughter knew that we had chocolate in the house. CURSES! That’s daddy’s stash! Anywho, this was our exchange:
D1: Daddy, can I have chocolate
Me: Why should I give you chocolate?
D1: Because you love me.
Not only did she get her chocolate but she now knew the secret to getting chocolate from me every. single. time. If you could see me now, you’d see that I’m shaking my head as I type this.
But this exchange taught me something profound about prayer: to approach God as a child, not a beggar. If I really believed He was a dad that loved me, the words I say to Him would be completely different.
Enough with my ramblings. How’ve you been? I hope to be able to visit some blogs that I’ve dearly missed and catch up here shortly.
My wife and I try to let D1 play without much direct supervision. In fact, on a number of occasions, other parents have chided us for leaving D1 unattended despite
playing with my iPhone being in plain view of her. Yesterday was not one of those days, and my wife’s mothering instincts took over.
D1 was upstairs in our church’s kid’s room playing with two older girls. My wife went up to see if D1 had to pee and she noticed her hair was messy, despite having just done it a little while ago. She then heard this conversation between the two older girls:
Older Girl 1: I just gave D1 a noogie!
Older Girl 2: What’s that?
OG1: You just make a fist and you rub it on their head real fast and hard
Og1: Yup! It’s really fun! You should go do it to D1!
So my wife sees OG2 sauntering over to D1 and immediately shouts, “STOP!!!” OG1 and OG2 are shocked and stop dead in their tracks. My wife, being the person that she is, makes it a teachable moment and tells the girls how that’s not nice and how she thinks they are nice girls and that nice girls don’t do such things, etc…
My wife and I are all about letting D1 figure out how to deal with obstacles, challenges, and people on her own without our specific guidance, but letting her encounter and overcome difficulty is far different from letting her be abused in our presence. We talked about this later that evening. Did my wife react to harshly? Should she have handled it differently? As my wife and I were talking about this last night, we were hit with this revelation: God didn’t prevent Jesus from getting the noogie to end all noogies.
We’re made in God’s image and in His likeness, and if our natural human reaction is to prevent harm from befalling our children, how difficult it must have been for God to ignore the pleas of His Son in the Garden of Gethsemane and later on the hill of Calvary.
So as I begin to reflect on what I am thankful for, I begin this week by remembering how painful the cross was for Jesus to bear and for God the Father to allow, and that redeeming us was worth that much to my heavenly Father.
How would you have reacted in my wife’s situation? What are you thankful for?
As a parent, I knew this day would come. Just not so soon. Last night, my daughter went to bed while still being disciplined. In fact, the discipline I doled out lasts for 24 hours. Too harsh? I’m still wrestling with that today.
Being the father of a toddler and an infant, it’s hard to believe I once thought that taking care of an infant was difficult. Don’t get me wrong. Changing diapers, soothing, bathing, wolfing down food before the baby wakes up or cries, and lugging no less than 3 bags around at all times was tough, but compared with having to reason with a toddler and dealing with the range of emotions they go through? It’s a walk in the park. Infants usually cry in discomfort; toddlers cry in defiance. After all, it’s hard to be defiant when you can’t move away or talk back. A baby that won’t stop crying is frustrating, but wanton defiance can be infuriating.
As a result, I’ve lost it on numerous occasions. Thankfully, there is forgiveness, but I still question the way I discipline my child and it’s something my wife and I talk about regularly. I’ll probably cover more on disciplining kids in a later post because it’s such a huge topic to talk about, but suffice it to say that in my experience, the Bible holds true:
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. – Proverbs 22:15
I love my daughter, but I’m not dumb or delusional: she’s far from an angel.
So back to the story at hand. My wife is feeding D2, so my daughter and I are doing our nightly routine–have a quick dance party, brushing teeth, washing face, changing into PJs, reading a book–and when we get to the reading book part, she snatches the book out of my hands and yells at me saying that the book was hers. We’ve already told her on numerous occasions that snatching is not nice and not something we’ll tolerate. Since my wife was busy breastfeeding, I didn’t have time to consult with her, so I calmly pried took the book out of her death grip hands and told her we won’t be reading a book tonight. For those new to this blog, my daughter loves to read. In fact, we don’t turn on the TV when we need to do something; we ask her to go read books and she’ll entertain herself for hours. So sending her to bed without a book is like sending me to bed without food.
As she sat on her bed weeping, I wondered if I was being too harsh. We still went through the rest of our nightly routine–talking about the day, singing a few songs, and praying–and I explained to her again why I wasn’t reading her a book tonight. I told her that if she were nice, we could read a book tomorrow night and I assured her I loved her.
As I left her room, she said, “I love you, appa.” This was somewhat reassuring but I told my wife what happened and asked her if she thought it was too harsh. Since we’d already told her on numerous occasions that snatching and yelling was unacceptable, we agreed that it was ok. But it still felt odd going to sleep on those terms.
My wife and I have been married for 5+ years, and one of the verses I often took out of context was from Ephesians
26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. – Ephesians 4
Thankfully, I never pulled the submission card (“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” Eph 5:22) as that never ends well, but I did pull the “we can’t go to sleep because we’re still fighting” card plenty of times. What Paul is writing here isn’t literal, so if you’re mad at 8am, that doesn’t give you the rest of the day to remain mad; he’s talking about the importance of not nursing anger and carrying it over. And I couldn’t help but wonder if my daughter would be bitter towards me or if she would no longer snatch and yell, eagerly looking forward to reading a book with me the next night. Will she think I was disciplining/rejecting her or that I was disciplining/rejecting her actions?
And for me, that’s probably the hardest part of disciplining my child. Sure, I want her to behave right, but I also want my daughter to know that I love her unconditionally. She was still sleeping when my wife and I left for work this morning and I’m looking forward to getting home and plopping down on the couch with her, reading her favorite books. Because the great part of parenting is that every day is a new day to remind my kids and my wife that I love them unconditionally.
What about you? Have you ever gone to bed with your child upset? How did he/she respond the next day?
On Wednesday morning, I noticed a bird pooped on my car. Judging by the size of the poop, it was either a condor or a bird who had been severely constipated for several days because the poop ran from the top of the windshield to right near the wiper blade. I wasn’t about to take a picture but I will say that it had a massive brown part and plenty of white – imagine if my windshield were a frying pan and I dropped an egg onto it, only the yolk is brown/green. It wasn’t obstructing my vision, but like a massive booger lurking just inside my daughter’s nose, it was bothering me all day. Thankfully, I realized I was out of windshield washer fluid the day before, so I didn’t end up smearing the poop all over.
Wednesday was a pretty hot day so when I got back to my car, the poop was firmly caked onto the glass. Like that pesky booger that pokes in and out of my daughter’s nose with each breath she takes, the massive, caked on poop was bugging me. It was looking really nasty at this point, so I knew I didn’t want to use the glove compartment napkin + spit technique. I pull into a gas station to use their windshield cleaning brushes and there’s no liquid in any of them. Bummer.
We were running a little late to a birthday dinner (honestly, when do parents ever NOT run late?), so we didn’t have time to stop off at a gas station to clean it off.
At the dinner, 9 people destroyed two sushi boats. YAR! This was the boat I had a hand in overtaking:
Don’t worry, those stragglers didn’t survive – Pop never takes prisoners when it comes to food. We then hit up Roy Rogers for fried chicken (I can never say no to a cowboy’s chicken) and strawberry shortcakes. Mmmmmm! (I’m definitely going to the gym today).
So there was the poop, firmly entrenched on my windshield after a full day of being left on. It looked terrible and at this point, I was just waiting for some rain to wash it all away.
And this morning, the DMV gets a Rainpocalypse – not nearly as crazy as the Snowpocalypse we had back in February. Thankfully, I made it into work before the storm really kicked in, but man, that was one beastly thunderstorm. Good thing God promised He wouldn’t send another flood, otherwise, I’d have been looking for Steve Carrell and his ark.
Looking outside now, the sun is shining brightly and my car looks like new. In fact, you’d never know bird poop was ever on the windshield. The rain did what I didn’t want to couldn’t do.
I’m far from a perfect son, husband, father, and friend. I poop and make a mess quite often – both in the physical and the spiritual. So this morning was a comforting reminder that Jesus’ blood washes away all my sins.
Particularly as a father, there are a few instances in my life where I really screwed up. One particularly shameful incident occurred shortly after D2 was born. I was tired and D1 was having a really rough time adjusting to her younger sister, much harder than both my wife and I anticipated. At this point, a lot of stress and weariness was built up from caring for a newborn, and D1 was being particularly defiant during a potty training session and I just lost it. I yelled so loud that she peed on the floor. Despite this memory being nearly 6 weeks ago, it still pains me to even type it out. I felt more like a monster and less like a father as I beheld the terror in my daughter’s eyes. I held D1 tight and wept. I told her I was sorry over and over again and all that came out of her mouth was, “I love you, appa.”
After putting D1 to bed and doing my best to reassure her of my undying love for her, I got on my knees and prayed. I knew God promised in the Bible that He’d forgive but I was having a terrible time of moving on as I kept thinking about the look of terror my daughter had. But I knew I had to. Repentance isn’t just about saying sorry; it’s about living differently. So the next day, I sought to be a better father – a more loving and patient father, just like my heavenly Father.
Every now and then, that memory will come back and that nagging voice will remind me what a terrible father I was at that moment. But then I remember: the rain has come, the sun is shining. It’s a new day.