I went to Alexandros Riding Stables for a trail ride last week, which was lovely in all ways. I left with some amazing fresh goats’ milk too, courtesy of these goats and their kind owner.
For the first ten-ish months of our trip, Brian and I split schedules so that we could both freelance part-time and hang out with Theo part-time.* Most days looked like this:
7:00 am (ish) – Theo wakes us. We try to convince him that it is time to relax and snuggle, and he tries to convince us that it is time for breakfast. After 10 minutes or so, Theo wins.
8:00 am – Parent 1 watches Theo for the morning while Parent 2 works (or sometimes explores solo.)
12:30 pm – Lunch, often together and generally cooked by Parent 1.
1:30 pm – We put Theo down for his nap or quiet time.** Sometimes, he stays in his room! Parents work.
3:30 pm (ish) – Theo wakes up and Parent 2 watches him while Parent 1 works or explores.
7:00 pm – Dinner together, generally cooked by Parent 2.
7:45 pm (ish) – We put Theo down for sleep. Sometimes, he stays in his room! We work, play, or read until bed.
Here is a running list of the preschools Theo has attended on a temporary basis on our trip. We were happy with all of them. Some schools, like Cheeky Monkeys in Bali and Kiddee House in Chiang Mai seem to more frequently take children on a short-term basis. For others, we just lucked out because they had an empty slot in their program.
For a little more than four months, we have been enrolling Theo in local preschools as we travel. Thus far, he’s attended school in New Zealand, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
We aren’t particularly worried about keeping up with the academic aspects of school. Theo is young and seems to be soaking up information from the wider world in a very sponge-like manner. Instead, we like that school gives him an opportunity to learn to socialize with people who aren’t us on a regular basis. Just as important to us, sending Theo to school gives us adults extra time to work and explore independently.
For Theo’s first birthday, there were no festivities. He was still a baby. He didn’t care. (I even checked to verify that there were indeed no photos of some celebratory measure that I had forgotten. There weren’t. It didn’t happen. However, I found photos of Theo dated four days after he turned one, at a children’s museum. So, we must not have been too horrible of parents.)
Theo really seems to enjoy helping with certain cooking and cleaning tasks. Here, he is washing bok choy and vacuuming the kitchen in our Taipei apartment. For me, the mental battle is remembering to that there is long-term value in incorporating him into our daily household chores, even when it takes more time and energy than just doing it myself.
When I visited Japan almost three years ago, I couchsurfed with a family in Tokyo, and a six-year-old walked me through making model food with a candy kit.
After our phones alerted us to this earthquake (elsewhere, and we didn’t feel it at all), we had a discussion about earthquakes, which led to yet another discussion about death.
Do people die in this country? -Theo
Yes, people die in this country. People die in all countries. -Me
Will I die someday? -Theo
Yes, someday. Probably not for a long time. -Me
I don’t want to die. -Theo
I hear that you don’t want to die. Most people don’t want to die. -Me
I don’t want to die. -Theo
(Very brief pause)
Can we have lunch now? -Theo
(Theo, post-discussion, counting mochi to determine if we have the correct number for our lunch-time soup.)
Our hosts moved this lizard from their house to the garden, where Theo and I were playing. The lizard was very still, probably hoping that we would go away. Theo declared that he was going to watch until it moved.
Last Saturday, within the span of about two hours, Theo received seven kisses and two lollipops, all from people we’d never previously met.
We mentioned the attention to a Rabat resident, who told us that this was typical in Morocco. When he was visits Europe, it feels strange to not pick up and play with random children. Even further on that extreme: the United States*, where he found that mothers would look concerned if he simply smiled at their children.
Cultural norms – they vary. Brian and I acknowledge this, and understand that in some countries (well, Turkey) strangers will find it very natural to spend an extended period of time petting our child’s blondish hair, even though it feels odd to us. And that in most parts of the world, people just give candy to children. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where we actually have a saying about candy from strangers. (For anybody from outside the US, the saying is: “Don’t take candy from strangers.” Pretty simple.)