Naps, Penis Envy, and Bruce Lee

Naps.

Something I never thought about before I had kids, other than daydreaming about taking them while stuck at the office.

However, for parents of young children, naps are as crucial as feedings. Scientifically, a lot happens during these little guys’ naps. Brain development and whatnot. Practically speaking, naps nourish them and keep them from becoming overtired monsters. Naps also provide parents with much needed quiet and Halleluyer time to regroup. More than an incidental benefit for us.

Commonly heard among parents:
“We won’t be able to make it because that’s during Little Timmy’s nap.” “Maybe we can swing by if he gets his morning nap in.” “Too bad our kids’ naps don’t fall in the same range – we’ll never see each other at this rate!”

While I know all too well the importance of naps, I still imagine folks judging me when I can’t avoid factoring in naps when planning just about anything. It sounds so rigid and square and what’s-the-big-deal?

So recently, we went to our friend’s lovely new house on Long Island. The boys were having an extra fun time playing in the sprawling finished basement with their buddies, then taking a lovely group stroll to their local playground that our Queens boys had never been to. We enjoyed some pizza together for lunch and normally, this is when Mama would peace out with our crew, wrangling the kids into their carseats so we can rush home in time for naps.

The other playmates all napped later on in the day or had retired from nap life altogether. Plus they all lived within five minutes of each other, unlike us.

But next up on the fun agenda was playing in their POOL.

I decided to be Cool Mama instead of Nap Nazi for once and tried to sound like I hadn’t been worrying about this nap issue throughout the pizza party.

“Hey, it’s a special occasion. It’s not everyday we come out for a pool party so we’ll stay. I’ll just aim to leave before 3:30. I mean, I’ll just suffer a little by carnapping them on the drive back. I’ll just be stuck in the car for a while but…oh well, if that’s the worst of it, I’ll be fine.”

We all cheered about staying longer as I struggled to get them into their swim trunks and slather sunscreen all over them.

We had a blast. Ellis was brave and trying to be all Baywatch, acting like he could swim on his own, even though the water was surprisingly cold. Micah had fun though always gravitating towards the steps, my ever-cautious firstborn.

But alas, all good times must come to an end. Loaded them up, thanked the hostess once again and we were on our merry way. While driving, I couldn’t help but smile about the wonderful memories we had made that day. And both boys had konked out as soon as I started driving so Mama was able to work the radio without my Warren G. Regulator car DJ weighing in from his carseat.

This was practically Me time, driving with my snoozers.

Hmmm…I could’ve used one more trip to the bathroom before I drove off but ahh well. (A common theme ever since I had the boys. Just seems easier to hold it in than to take the baby off of me or to ask someone to watch him when they are busy watching their own little ones).

We get to our parking spot 2.5 blocks away from our building. Ellis wakes up first. Micah still snoozing away so I bring Ellis to the driver seat with me.

Um, you know what? I really have to pee. Can’t front no mo’. I had been holding it in for over an hour, I realized.

Ellis is quickly growing into a toddler so I can’t just contain him on my lap, nibbling on him the way I used to just a couple months ago. He wants to drive, stand, climb, jump. He starts reaching for the cross hanging from our rearview mirror and STANDS ON MY BLADDER.

straw that broke the camel's bladder.  Ellis using my bladder as a stepstool.

straw that broke the camel’s bladder. Ellis using my bladder as a stepstool.

Whoa, there. Elevated Risk of Peeing officially heightened to SEVERE RISK. Code Red. Code Red.

I quickly looked at the empty water bottle next to me. I hadn’t grown a penis in the last few minutes so I don’t know why I looked at it so longingly.

Code Red. Code Red. This did not feel quite like labor but this must be what appendicitis or a kidney stone feels like.

It was still bright and sunny out and I was parked in an area with heavy foot traffic. Many employees walking to and from their offices and nearby stores.

Wait, didn’t FEMA work in this building next to my car? They are government workers so I can ask them to watch my babies while I go pee and they wouldn’t dare kidnap them since they got job security for life. Unbeatable benefits. They wouldn’t want to jeopardize that. There goes an ambulance driver. Should I ask him to sit in the car while I pee behind his ambulance right quick?

Damnit, damnit, damnit. No. Time. To. Deliberate.

I can see my friend’s building from here. Should I call her to run out here so I can pee? But what are the chances she will pick up her phone in time? And by the time she gets her little twins to walk out with her, I will already have peed myself. Father Lord please help me.

I scanned the premises. Wait, is this the FEMA building or does the FBI work here?

Let’s go over the most logical positioning for the public urination that was about to go down. If my butt faced outward towards the sidewalk, then all the government workers would come up on my kimchi squat and possibly turn me in for public urination.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

I rushed Ellis back to his carseat so Mama can take care of business. Thankfully, he didn’t protest and cry. Micah still snoozing away.

Hopefully this will just take a few seconds and no one will walk by. Here goes nothing.

I kimchi squat real low in front of my car.

THIS WAS NOT TAKING A FEW SECONDS.

Apparently, I am half-Korean and half-racehorse. The pee just kept flowing and flowing down the asphalt. Looked like my car was part of the BP oil spill. I even said to myself, “Self, slow up. Just try to relieve yo bladder halfway. Like folks who get half a tank of gas and fill up later. But in reverse. You can pee in private later. Have some dignity, girl.”

My bladder said, “Bitch please,” and peed even harder. The pee just kept coming. I think some of this pee was from 2011. Potentially, any of the other car owners in this uncovered parking lot could walk up behind my bare ass at any moment. That thought seemed to only encourage my pee to gush out some more.

Good Lord, I was finally done. Zipped up and ran back into the car, heart beating fast and furious. A man in a suit walked by on the other side of the car. I needed to unload to someone so I messaged my friend a mysterious, “THAT JUST HAPPENED.”

Little did I know that my wacky afternoon was just getting started.

When Micah finally woke up, he woke up pissed (no pun intended). Therein lies the danger of napping on the go. They are not as deep or comfy for my little dude so he tends to wake up cranky and needy.

Note to future parents: sometimes, a shortened/disrupted nap can be worse than skipping a nap. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

He threw the biggest tantrum of his life thus far. I was wearing Ellis and three bags. I did not have the stroller on me. Micah demanded to be carried up all the way home because he was so needy. While he WRAPPED HIMSELF AROUND MY LEG, bawling and screaming, I just took deep breaths and pleaded with him.

Onlookers in cars pointed and looked away when I caught them watching.

A woman came up to me and I was sure she was a fellow mama who was going to try to divert his attention from his meltdown. I was grateful in advance for this angel as more cars drove by and watched us.

“Hi, um, excuse me, sorry but do you know where Union Turnpike is?” she dared to ask me.

I was going to reply, “Am I on candid camera? Where is my boy John Quinones? Can’t you see that I am wearing one kid on my body, three bags, and a wailing little boy is glued to my leg? I can hardly hear your question!”

Instead, I figured, I ain’t getting home any time soon so might as well be of help. I replied, “If you just walk up that way and make a left, you’ll hit Union Turnpike. Just keep going. Yup, no problem.”

I realized that Micah was not going to relent until I carried him home. I was about to cry myself.

An elderly couple watched us in horror, went into their building, got changed for an early dinner, came back out AND WE HAD NOT BUDGED. Micah was still not taking “no” for an answer. “Oh dear! Is something WRONG with him? Is he sick or something!?” they asked.

“No, he’s just uh, well, clearly very upset. He wants me to carry him home all the way over there.” I pointed. I wanted to add, “Carry on, unhelpfuls. Raise up and git to your earlybird dinner if you ain’t gonna help at all.”

Finally, my knight in shining armor walks along our path. Asian-American dude. Chinese?

“How can I help? Do you want ME to try carrying him home? Which one is your building?”

“Thank you but I don’t think he’s going to let you. Thank you so much for trying to help. I don’t know how I’m going to get home. He has never gotten this upset.”

“Let me carry your bags home at least. I’ll leave it with your doorman.”

“Thank you so much. Can I just tell you? You are the only one who offered me any kind of help. Everyone else just watched us. What’s your name?”

“Bruce. No problem. Glad to help.”

I carried the both of them home. It took an hour to walk the 2.5 blocks. I had to take breaks as the sweat fell into my eyeballs. Once I carried him, he started to breathe normally again. I walked by our doorman shaking my head. And sure enough, Micah was all smiles once we walked in the door. LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED.

“Mommy?” he smiled his Denzel smile. “I want to watch Do-ra!”

When Kevin got home that day, I told him about our day. He responded with two questions:
1) WHERE EXACTLY DID YOU PEE? Obviously the best positioning would have been to open both doors on one side of the car to build yourself a cubicle. Please tell me you did that.

Um, no, because that would’ve been too logical duh! I peed where it was MOST VISIBLE, at the nose of our car, because I’d rather have one of the other drivers, one of our co-op neighbors or maybe even my friend with her twins, walk in on my bare ass, rather than squat BEHIND the car and have a FEMA worker/FBI/CIA report me! I was banking on the other drivers quickly looking away because you know when you are embarrassed FOR someone and you have the decency to avert their gaze?

2) Why did you make your load even worse by carrying the three bags in addition to the two kids? I could have fetched that stuff later.

BECAUSE I COULDN’T FORESEE THE NEAR FUTURE?! BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW MICAH’S TANTRUM WAS GOING TO BE THE WORST EVER! BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW WALKING 2.5 CITY BLOCKS WAS GOING TO TAKE ME ONE HOUR, 28 MORE GREY HAIRS, AND A SLIPPED DISC!

Shout out to Ellis who was patient the whole time except for one squawk when I carried his big bro right on top of him for a split second.

And to my hero whom I have since dubbed “Bruce Lee”: never will I forget. Respeck.

And last, but definitely not least, to my sphincter for not trying to join my bladder’s party.

Didn’t wake up knowing that public urination would be far from the low point of my day. Never a dull moment these days, I swear.

I hope our co-op doesn’t waste our maintenance fees on something as silly as surveillance cameras for our parking lots.

Play

When I first started putting Micah in timeouts, I felt sheepish. I could actually hear my Korean ancestors laughing from their knolly graves.

I’m trying to learn what kind of parents we are. Sift through the noise and parenting junk emails overflowing in my inbox. So many loaded terms. Attachment parenting (you mean what the rest of the world does)? Waldorf schools? Montessori? Charter schools? Homeschooling? Unschooling?

Sometimes, the labels just make things more intimidating and confusing than necessary. I have almost always followed the rules (except at movie theaters) but I do have an unnecessarily rebellious side, too. If someone too hungrily wants to know all my business while remaining private about their mess, I don’t want to tell them anything and have even privatized my Facebook page to a couple acquaintances. (Or if I am Facebook-friended too prematurely. Yes, this dates me as young kids these days friend anyone and everyone). But if someone couldn’t care less about my life, I want to reveal all. In detail.

I still refuse to call Manhattan “The City.” It ain’t the only one.

Before I became a mama, I didn’t want to “schedule playdates” for my future children because it sounded too yuppie and ridiculous for my little babies. (I’ve since matured and realized there is no getting around that one.) But words mean a lot to me.

So while I am still trying to figure out where I fit in as a parent, which philosophies I adhere to, all I know is that today, in this perfectly breezy 75 degree weather, my boys and I had so much fun literally rolling around in the grass with kids from the neighborhood. At first, Micah looked at me like I was actin’ a damn fool but once I got into it, he cautiously started rolling with me and other playmates.

Then we played treetag with Micah’s cheeks shaking as he ran, no longer a baby but not yet a boy, first wide-eyed and tentative, then with delight. Even little Ellis got in on the action, playing in the grass and rolling about. We even built houses with twigs (I hear this is called “fairy house” – more new lingo.)

Does my closet hippie make me a follower of Waldorf pedagogy? YO, I dunno! I just think kids should play outdoors as much as possible. Good for their health and souls. Found a blade of grass in my baby’s diaper from our outdoorsy play. It was a good, no, GREAT day.

Thanks to my kids, I have bonus childhoods to enjoy at my age. Memories of my own childhood flood me as I play with them. Handball with the neighborhood kids behind our yellow apartment building in Koreatown LA, until it was night. Rollerskating down too-steep apartment driveways with no helmets or kneepads while my parents worked long and hard in their store, to pay for our piano lessons and future SAT classes. Digging for buried treasure with my little brother with my dad’s finest silver spoon next to graffiti’d walls. Devouring book after book at the public library until my parents closed up shop and came to pick us up after the sun set so late in the summers.

[Speaking of outdoors, Happy Birthday to Henry David Thoreau:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”]

I Spy

There are two types of parents: those who rise to the “I Spy” Challenge and those who say, “Ask Daddy.”
I Spy

On any given day, I can hardly find my keys (same place every other time). So I’m not the best parent to solicit help in finding “three flags, a flamingo, a surfin’ fella, a small steering wheel, and a fancy umbrella” at the end of a long day, especially a heat advisory day, complete with jungle thunderstorms, to kick off a NYC summer.

Yet somewhat surprising since I Spy so much in real life, way more than oblivious Daddy who will usually respond with “Huh?” when I ask, “Did you see that?”

I Spy a quiet, serene mama sitting in our music class, while the kiddies bang away on their drums, triangles, and cymbals. I am wearing my sweaty infant and trying to cover his ears after his glassy eyes have no choice but to succumb to his morning nap. I am pleading with my toddler to please listen to the teacher instead of jumping around with a little buddy he made all on his own. I Spy small earplugs in Serene Mama’s ears! Wait, THAT IS ALLOWED? I, with my supersonic hearing, could have done that ALL ALONG when toddler turbulence hits?

I Spy another mama (or nanny) crossing Queens Blvd., strolling a toddler girl. The little girl is carrying a huge rolled up wad of cash in her bare fist. I want to warn her with my characteristic, “Uh-oh, watch out!” but for once, I leave it be. (Note to self: Walk their route tomorrow and scan the black asphalt.)

I Spy a short-torso’d, slight man in office attire, walking behind us, screaming into his cell phone, “…sex?…sex? Was she a Boston Six or Beer Goggles Six?” Curious what a Boston Six is. His convo grossed me out as I rushed home with my two, still-innocent, males, but I, too, have been guilty of talking loudly on the phone in public, on gross-to-overhear topics like coaching girlfriends on how to spot quality cervical mucus for babymaking.

I Spy our friendly, androgynous Malaysian waiter/waitress who leans into Kevin and asks, “Where are you FROM?” Kevin recognizes The Look and proceeds to answer, “Korea,” just to save time, even if he was born in Flushing, NY. He/she responds with, “Are you here on holiday then?”

“Oh, no, we live here!”

“Oh, okay! Then WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”

“OH! Forest Hills. Er, here. Few blocks away.”

Script. Flipped.

As I finish typing this, I Spy our DVR with our delicious, weekly treat of the worst yet most enjoyable programming (“The Bachelorette” and “Mistresses”). I Spy a good time.