Day 444: “Let’s Get a Coffee”

Today me and the little guy did some errands, which meant a trip to Mong Kok and the MOKO Mall (read here about this mall).  One thing I did not write about this mall before was the incredible play area just outside of the food court on the 3rd floor.  The little guy acted like I had given him the greatest gift of all when we were there! 🙂

After we got back and we finished our errands, I got in touch with my friend group and asked where they were, and me and the little guy went to meet them.  They were slowly walking with their little guys in the strollers – and their little guys were not happy to be in the strollers.  At all.  So when they saw the little guy, they also made some serious moves to get themselves removed from the shackles that bound them to the mobile prisons they were in.

The moms decided it was too windy where we were, and the best option was to go into the coffee shop.  Now let me remind you that our kids are between 18-23 months.  A coffee shop is never the best option for anything unless they are sleeping.  So what happened when we went into the coffee shop?

Lots of whining, some running around, basic disruption of the place, and confused customers who just wanted to sit down but couldn’t because we were blocking the path.  Yep, we were those inconsiderate a-holes.  And I noticed it, and I didn’t like it.  So when my friend said that she has to get outside with her kid, I happily joined her outside of the coffee shop where the little ones could run around and burn off some pent-up energy.

I mentioned yesterday that I think some people do not evolve as their child evolves, and maybe they want them to stay babies too long.  Here is a great example of this.  There is a short period (before the kids are crawling) when you can go to coffee shops to meet friends, and it is really nice.  Did the other parents with me not notice their kids screaming, or that we with our toddlers were a disruptive force in the coffee shop?  And furthermore, how could they even focus on the conversation at hand when the kids were being like this?  The only one who was well-behaved had a iphone crammed into his hands immediately to mentally pacify him, but the others were not super pumped to be there.

So, all-in-all, while I think meeting friends for a coffee is a great idea, I think it is better to meet friends to get a coffee to go, so that you can enjoy your coffee while they are playing outside, running around, being active. 🙂

Day 443: Hong Kong vs. US / Europe – Different Parenting Styles

Today I had a really interesting conversation with one of my stay-at-home-dad friends.  He is born & raised in  Hong Kong, and is Hong Kong Chinese.  This makes his staying at home with his child super crazy as it is definitely not common for a man to stay at home with their child here.  So, he’s already outside of the traditional “box” for a dad.  But I suspected it was not as far away from the box as he thought.  And although I am American, I am definitely not a traditional American in how I raise my child, either.  So it was an interesting conversation.

We were talking about letting the little ones, especially at this age, learn.  For me, this means letting the little guy sometimes fall, drop something, or otherwise do things that could potentially hurt him – but not harm him (if that makes sense?).  In other words, if the little guy wants to stand on a toy that will fall over, causing him to fall, then I will warn him, and then if he still wants to do it, my logic is to let him do it so he can learn for himself.  If however there is a table corner right there, I’ll put my hand over it so that when he falls, he won’t harm himself.

For my friend, he would prevent his son from doing the above example altogether.  So, the toy would be taken away, or the child would be taken away from the situation, thus saving any kind of predicament at all from happening.  I can appreciate this, of course I do not want my son to hurt himself.  However, my logic is, if you wrap your kid in bubble wrap (theoretical or real), you do not really let them learn – and they can learn so many things from you not interjecting.  For example maybe they learn that you, the parent, are not an idiot and your warnings are good advice.  They might also learn how to fall, or that the world does not end when they fall and it hurts.  They might also learn how to be careful.  And so on.  If you interject all the time, I feel that the main thing they learn is that they do not have responsibility for their own actions, and it can hinder their learning about real life stuff.

One thing that I mentioned while talking is that I had noticed that my friend is a lot more hands on while his child is playing, and he interjects much more with his son while he is playing than the other parents – who are all European.  He said that it is not like the Chinese parents, who do not let their kids do anything, and are so worried they really protect them from everything.  He said he believes he must wait until his kid is developmentally (mentally, emotionally, and fine-motor skills-wise) ready for things.

I countered that if you always are waiting for them to be “ready” for something – for example walking down the stairs or running around an open space without your guidance, maybe you are not allowing them to become “ready” because you keep interjecting.  If I were to keep putting my son in the stroller every time that he was walking because he was not walking very stably, then how is that helping the development of his walking?  Seems to me that you should simply let the kid learn how to walk, which involves falling – a lot – and they will figure it out much quicker than if you interject all the time.

I also made a point that I think is huge: people baby their kids too much.  Especially toddlers.  Toddlers are not babies.  They are smart.  They learn a lot every day.  They are not babies.  So, when I see people treat their kids who are 5, 4, 3, 2, or even 1,5 years old as if they are babies, it really drives me crazy, because I believe this is a really detrimental thing to do to them – and it happens because people are not moving on while their child moves along in their development.  As a parent, we need to keep moving with our child.  You don’t keep feeding them puree for dinner once they are eating solid foods, right?  Then the same applies to how you treat them as they get older, too.

In the end we said that there are many paths to the end-point.  Everyone has their own logic, and they make the parenting decisions based on what makes sense in their logic.  Super interesting to think about not only cultural difference when raising children, but also simple individual differences that are based on a person’s world view.

Day 442: “I Want Mommy”

Although he does not yet say “I want mommy” there are times that my son definitely wants her over me.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with him sometimes wanting the comfort of his mother more than the comfort of his father, so it does not bother me.  But on the other hand, as the person who takes care of him all the time, it is a little bit of a bummer that he would not want to go to the comfort of my arms when something happens and he wants comfort.

I have said this before and I stand by it – there is a special bond that a child has with their mother, and it is a bond that will never be felt or understood by the father.  There’s a little bit of a unique relationship that builds, and it makes sense when you think about it.  The mother is there as literally the source of life and sustenance for the child from the beginning.  And then along comes the father, and although this guy is interesting, he’s no match for the mother.

So, when those times come up when both me and my wife are around, it is almost without fail that the little guy will go to his mom if he wants to be hugged, held, or otherwise have closeness.  My wife sometimes wants me to carry him during these times, as she gets tired, but this does not fly for him – he wants mom.  I will say I have a “no carrying him around “policy when we are out in public – he either walks or goes in the stroller when he is with me – so maybe I’m not helping things.  Either way, I hear it loud & clear: “I want mommy” is something I should simply get used to.

Day 441: Things are disappearing

As we head back to Sweden, we have some things will be shipping back home, and some things we are selling.  With a move this far, it is a considerable expense to ship for example our sofa, compared to selling it used and buying a new one back in Sweden.  So, those items that are bulky that we do not really love are going up for sale.

Off those items have gone to the online forums for these things (i.e., facebook), with people coming to our place occasionally to take a piece of our life with them.  And piece by piece, the things are disappearing, and we feel less and less like we are living in a home.  Photos are down from the walls as frames go to others, clothes are moved out of wardrobes, and those items become a memory of the past as we look towards the future.

Day 440: What’s This?

Yesterday I wrote that the little guy is saying “hi” and “bye bye” a lot right now.  And that is no lie!  Today I think he must have said “bye bye” at least a thousand times – and it makes sense because it’s a way that he knows to say he is finished with something or wants to move on.

Tonight we were doing some evening reading, which usually consists of quite a few different books.  And he brought me thick one with a bunch of different animals in it, called “Mina Favoritdjur” (“My Favorite Animals”).  And then when I opened the page, he pointed to the first one and said, clearly: “what’s this?”  I told him what it was, and he did the same for every animal for the next 4 or 5 pages.  After that, it kind of became a muddled circle of made-up words.

It made sense that he said, “what’s this” – because this is what I ask him when we are reading.  And since he is basically copying everything we do right now, and he is also starting to assert more and more what he wants – and in this case, he wanted to control how I read to him – instead of me controlling the reading, he took over.  And, it especially makes sense (tonight he saw me dipping sushi into the dish before I ate, so he mimicked pouring soy sauce into a dish and dipping the food).

It makes you wonder, which other things that I say (or do) a lot is he going to pick up?  One of his friends is wagging his pointer finger like his dad does when he says no – so now if he sees someone doing something not ok, he wags his finger.  But what things has little guy picked up from me that will keep sprouting up?  It will be interesting to see! 😉

 

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what’s this? what’s this? what’s this?

Day 439: Hi & Bye Bye

One of the cutest things the little guy is doing right now is exercising his new verbal skills.  That means continuing to “talk” like he has been for a while, and it also means saying a few proper words, too.

Our pediatrician told us that at 18 months (the little guy’s current age), they look for a speaking vocabulary of 8 words.  I would say right now he has about that many.  The two that are his favorite are: “hi” and “bye bye”.  

So, now he is eager to say “hi” to everyone he sees – in the hall, on the elevator, on the street, in stores, and so on.  And of course it is accompanied by “bye bye” a few moments later when our brief encounters with whoever are over.

He uses these words as more than just salutations – for example, he will say “bye bye” when he wants to leave a place, or when he is finished eating.  It’s so interesting how this whole talking thing develops!

Day 438: That Time I Tried Hot Pot

Last weekend I went out with some of the dads for a night in the city eating at a “good” Hot Pot place.  Super interesting experience overall.

First is that if you do not know anything about hot pot, it’s basically a boiling soup broth with various flavors (usually beef stock, I think, but ours was a “special one” with crab and chicken).  Then you dip your various ingredients in it to cook.  All these things also add to the flavor, so in theory, by the end you have some really good flavors happening.  What is weird about it is everyone is dropping raw ingredients all the time, so the broth is likely always carrying some funk in it 😉

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the famous hot pot!

When I say you drop your ingredients into the pot, I mean things like raw chicken, beef, fish, eel, intestines, fish skin, fried & rolled tofu, and so on.  And when I say various flavors, I also mean to say that they also have levels of intensity in the spice.  We had “medium” and it was so spicy it literally sucked the air from my lungs when I took my first bite.

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just dip the fried fish skins into the hot pot for 5 seconds max, and you’re all set!
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condiment tray – in case there’s not enough spice, you can add it here!

They also had fish and other things that they served cut up and on ice, like sushi.  For example they had Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck), which is about as unappetizing visually as it gets.  And it tastes pretty fishy, kind of like an extra salt-watery oyster.

a few geoducks.  appetizing?  (image from geoduck.org)
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geoduck sashimi

We had a nice meal and a nice evening, and I don’t think we over-drank or did anything too crazy with the alcohol.  But, at about 5 in the morning, I woke up with cold sweats, and shortly after I was in the bathroom.  And let me just say that the spicy food was not pleasant as it forced it’s way from my body for the next day.

It could have been a lot of things – the crab that I ate before anyone else (maybe it was not cooked), the tons of un-sanitary broth that was soaked into the tofu skins I ate, or maybe it was the spices.  The super hot, angry, szechuan spices.  I have found out that as I age, I can’t handle the hot spices as much as I used to, and now that I have the little guy, I rarely take the chance on it.

Two of the guys are from Hong Kong, and they also find themselves getting sick a lot when they eat hot pot.  One guy told me when I was in the throws of the agony the day following that 4 out of 5 times he is in the same situation.  So it’s good to hear it’s not only me.  I’m glad I experienced the hot pot nonetheless, and I would recommend any of those brave foodie travelers out there to go to a hot pot place when you are in Hong Kong.