On Sunday, we returned from our first mini-vacation with three other families in Lancaster, PA. Having similarly-aged kiddies, a total of six boys and one girl, made for too many precious moments to list, but here are some of our freshly pressed memories from our extended Labor Day weekend:
1. The precious kiddos.
As if we didn’t exclaim “awww” every other moment with our own kids? You should have seen us practically combust when we saw our kids holding hands with each other, as they excitedly ran from ride to ride at Dutch Wonderland.
Watching this next generation of little guys (and gal) form their earliest friendships, squealing with delight because everything was more fun with their friends? Priceless. (…though it stung when my not-yet-three-year-old would reject Mommy’s hand in front of his friends!)
When we got back to our hotel that first night, we caught Micah “calling” his buddy on the huge fossilized landline at least three times, his drooly mouth pressed against the mouthpiece, asking his friend if he wants to sleep over, and saying, “Hold on. You coming NOW? Oh, okay. I’m heaah,” to the No One on the other end of the phone call. And imitating his friend’s robot dance moves.
Our Ellis: the youngest of the bunch right after his big bro, but the only infant among the kiddies, turned 11 months old during the trip, cruising on his little padded feet toward toddlerhood. Waiting in the doublestroller or on Mommy’s torso for most of the rides.
Plus, the combination of Asian + social media generation + parents of little ones = most camera crazed bunch ever.
2. It was just SO EASY.
Like breathing. We didn’t have to explain anything since we are basically leading parallel lives thanks to the life stage we’re in. We didn’t have to do the usual, “Oh, sorry, he just gets excited sometimes. It’s also past his bedtime.” In fact, ALL the kiddies were chasing each other around the table by the end of our first Amish dinner. We were all in the same boat.
We understood when our Girls’ Night Out or Girls By the Pool didn’t happen because during dinner, we were pretty much calculating the bathtime and bedtime routines that had to happen before we could MAYBE catch some sleep that first night, before a FULL day at the amusement park the next day. It was refreshing, not having to ‘splain or apologize for the mundane but necessary parental duties that make us crave rest more than a night out.
No need to explain what you meant for fear that you are making your usually gentle child sound like a terror when you send a group message that reads, “Hey, we were tortured from about 5:20 am to 7 am so we are trying to get in a nap before breakfast. See you when the park opens.”
Or when a few of the kids were taking turns being cranky from being woken up prematurely before dinner, it didn’t faze us. Just another meal with toddlers. Of course someone is gon’ be upset. Such a breath of fresh air for parents of little ones, not having to feel guilty for ruining the meal for fellow dinner companions.
We were just happy to be out eating something other than the kids’ rejected leftovers. Over the din of the upset kid of the hour, we just continued with the convo, while soothing a kid or three: “Dude, you really are NOT ashamed to watch ‘Glee,’ huh? You PROUD!”
3. A change of pace from the usual suspects.
As much as we love spending quality family time with just our Li’l Kims, “the more, the merrier” rang true as we laughed and chatted in line at the park, while wrangling the kids, under sprinklers at the waterpark, and at meals.
It also showed the kids how important friendships and community are. Just as no man is an island, no family should be one either.
We even ran into some more familiar faces at the park, including folks who live in our building, as well as a large family from our church.
The laid-back, youthful, fun dad of five kids(!) came up to our entirely Asian-American crew and pretended to call us out, “Hey, guys! Wassup? Thought we were supposed to be a multi-ethnic church, huh?”
“Yup, that’s why we mixed it up. We the Koreans among the Chinese!” I responded.
“Naah, hahahaa, we came here with only other Koreans ourselves.”
The girls and I ended up playing a bit of “Chinese or Korean?” without having to explain. (The name “Lilian?” Definitely Chinese. The name “Roseanne or Rose Anything?” We couldn’t come to a consensus).
4. Lessons learned.
I am hoping that Kevin will add to this with a post of his own, as he sacrificed himself, suffering the brunt of the early morning interrogation, but one lesson learned: Don’t reveal even a broad itinerary to a 33 month-old boy with a relentless memory. After our full day at Dutch Wonderland, we stupidly mentioned that the next day, we were going to see our friends again and play at the Farm together. Micah was so excited about that piece of info, he woke up around 5:20 am and proceeded to ask us, “We going to Farm NOW? Please let’s go to Farm NOW?” in 58 different inflections. The torture ended around 7 am when he succumbed to a “nap.”
You bess belee I ain’t telling dude about our roadtrip to a wedding next week.
5. Memories of our little family.
…having the hotel pool all to ourselves before we checked out. I will never forget the faces of our little morsels looking so elated as we swam them towards each other over and over again.
6. Journeying together.
Watching all of us just tryna do right by our kids, even as these kids were clearly the bosses, leading us from ride to ride, it felt… “dundunheh” (Korean for “solid”) to know that we are not doing this on a deserted island by the sheer talents and will of just the two of us. We all strugglin’, rejoicin’, learnin’, jackin’ up, learnin’ some more, pullin’ out our rapidly greying herr, repeatin’ mistakes and not learnin’, and lovin’ HARD.
7. Body hair.
When the hubs eagerly volunteers to run down to the front desk late at night to ask for a razor on your behalf, after you had just proclaimed that you “cool” about heading to the waterpark the next day without shaving, you can’t help but wonder if he comin’ from a place of thoughtfulness or a place of shame.
[How was y’all’s long weekends? Happy birthday to you Labor Day babies out there, young and old! Happy Start of School Season, too!]