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That Time When My Kid Nearly Pee’d on a Wild Rhino – Chitwan National Park

You see, we had arrived at the restaurant to watch the sunset over the river and eat a *quick* bite before going to the Tharu Cultural Program, around 5:00.  By the time we had to leave for the show at 6:45, we were still waiting for our food (something we would affectionately start referring to as a Nepali Minute).  So we had no choice but to leave and come back to eat after the show.  Irritated when we returned an hour later only to find out that our food STILL was not ready, we just about threw in the towel and went to bed with rumbling tummies.  Fortunate for us, we had already ordered a round of beer and had to wait it out.  Our food finally came and was a disappointment at that – almost every meal in Nepal took over an hour to arrive and almost every time was justified by its deliciousness, with the exception of this one.  Little did we know, the universe had planned it all out for us.  After dinner, the little guy announced that he had to go pee, so the Mister nonchalantly took him down to the sandy beach to take care of business.  As he lowered the pee’ers knickers, he sensed movement at close range.  As he looked beyond the tower in front of him and focused his eyes in the dark, he realized that the movement belonged to a wild rhino, not 10 feet away from them.  Carefully, he pulled the Little Explorers pants over his booty, made sure that no sudden movements or loud shrieks gave them away, and backed away slowly.

And so began the Great Rhino Hunt.  The beast grazed for a few more minutes before making his way next door (to where we were staying) and meandering DIRECTLY in front of our door to his second supper pasture.  And so we followed him.  Well, not quite followed – we went around the lodge to where we thought he’d be found.  Sure enough, there he was being watched by a handful of onlookers, grazing away.  Before long he was done with his second supper and headed back in the direction of the restaurant.  And this time, we really followed him.  As he walked back, he mistepped his way up a pathway that was blocked by a bamboo fence and we watched as he ploughed his way through it like it was made of foam.  So naturally, we too embarked up the newly bulldozed path and through the bamboo fence to see where he’d be headed next.  As we passed the restaurant, both holding a child, a man remarked, “are you really following the rhino… with kids?”.  To our defense, we were a healthy distance behind him at this point.  So far in fact that we ended up losing his path and heading back home, through the new pathway he made for us.  At which time, the biggest Little Explorer ripped her brand new down Patagonia jacket (bought with a Friends and Family discount) on the rhino-broken-fence.  And it’s at least two sizes too big for her, so now she has a wound by which to remember the death-defying adventure.

Deep Thoughts at 35,000 Feet

Despite what you may think, traveling for 14 hours over an ocean with a 2.5 and a 4.5 year old, solo, really isn’t all that stressful.  In fact, I was even able to think private thoughts.  PRIVATE thoughts.  Not only that, but I had the time to type them up on my phone, finger-peckingly-slow and all.

You see, I engage in what I call cheat travel.  And only a few supplies are required.

1) An iPod for each would-otherwise-be-squealing child.

2) Age appropriate headphones per iPod.

3) LOTS and LOTS of snacks.

4) A car seat for each headphone wearer under 5.

And what you get folks, is time to actually watch Will Ferrell do stupid shit on the teeny tiny airplane screen AND to think.  Feeling guilty watching other parents walk the aisles with their children, I even offered to go on a plane adventure more than once but NO! Mom, I’m cool – did you SEE that I’m using my iPod right now?  Oh and I should mention that a key part of this recipe is saving the holy iPod for use ONLY in situations that desperately call for it – such as a 14 hour flight (and perhaps, shorter late night flights and long bus rides and car rides and in a nice restaurant) – my point is that it must be kept sacred.

Mostly, the flight proceeded smoothly.  Below are a few musings, cataloged into my phone during the flight and cut and pasted here [and rainbow colored] for your reading enjoyment.

All was going as planned until the somewhat recently toilet-trained toddler woke up abruptly from his nap, because of PEE!!, and then proceeded to pee all over me and my seat (and later my bag – back spray) before successfully (mostly, save the back spray) releasing his flow into an empty water bottle that the universe had not found a garbage for at the airport (he was in the window seat with a sleeping sister in the aisle – lucky mommy in the middle with an overflowing tray table – so getting out fast enough was NOT an option).

What’s up with United giving peeps in first class an extra safety strap?  If you pay more, we’ll keep you safer?

Why do I always end up with the seat with the broken recline (and I’m not even going to mention the broken, sagging into my knee seat pocket)?  And a pissy princess in front of me, reclined [with a huff] to the max?

In an inconceivable way, I kind of like the very forced intimate time you’re made to spend with your kids on a long flight – but on second thought, maybe it’s because they are watching movies and eating sugar the whole time, so they’re a hell of a lot sweeter.

Interesting fact about me:  most often as we’re taking off, I actually rehearse our  last moments were the plane to crash.  It’s not an act filled with anxiety but more that I would want to be as at peace as possible, so in some morbid way, I want to have it planned.  I don’t like to be in control… nope, not. at. all.

WHY does United consistently show the only kids movie of the flight last – when it’s 9pm for them and they only have three hours left to get some much needed shut eye?!  Come on, it’s a HUGE deal.  Nearly ruined the last quarter of my flight experience.

The End.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the safariRoosters

We’re reading Roald Dahl’s, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory right now and I haven’t been able to stop myself from using little Charlie as an example for Safari when she’s whining about a seed in her toast or refusing to eat an entire meal just prepared for her.  Granted this will only work up until Charlie is given a freaking chocolate factory, making him, I don’t know, the luckiest kid on the PLANET.  But for now, it goes something like this:

Safari: I don’t want that little green thing on the eggs (in whine language).

Me:  Don’t you think that Charlie would be SO happy just to have eggs?

Safari:  Yes (said in an air of defeat).

It seems to actually click in her brain; she seems to understand that she’s fortunate to have what she has.  To a certain extent.  A minimal extent.  Just barely.  But a little.

I just can’t get over how fortunate our children are.  Staying in 4/5 star hotels has become their norm (though they are just as at home in a 2 star hotel), amazing buffets present the hardest choice of their day:  choosing between brie and gouda cheese, and they get to go on awesome adventures in new places regularly.

My husband and I both grew up in families that had to watch every penny spent.  Staying at hotels was an absolute LUXURY, and we’re talking Motel 6.  Eating out at restaurants only happened on the most special occasions.

These are our roots and I believe that being brought up this way has given me very well-balanced values.  Values that I hope to give to my children.  Humble, modest values.  Values that make you appreciate the dinner you just ate when you pass someone pan-handling in the street.  Values that make you think about how the cost of that pair of sparkly pink Crocs you want could feed a family (including yours) for half a month.  Values that make you want to help others who don’t have as much as you do.  Thoughtful values.  Thinking values.

In terms of 5 star hotels, the problem is that the baby’s Daddy is a business traveler and so we accrue lots of Hyatt points, so we end up staying at lots of Hyatts.   It certainly isn’t because we can afford them (or would choose to spend our money in that way), it’s because they’re free.  And every time we do, I feel so grateful for the luxury we are able to indulge in; but for the kids, it’s just normal for them.  My fear is that they won’t grow up understanding and appreciating that luxury.   But they’re generally pretty AWESOME, so we keep on coming back.

In the end, I think that I trust that my values will be more influential than the type of hotel they’re used to frequenting in forming their values.  Oddly enough, reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory really has sparked this mindfulness in me and made me realize how important it is to me that my children develop humility, compassion, and gratitude to take with them through life.  Although, I can’t give Charlie all the credit, the timing happens to be such that the older one is just getting to an age where she can comprehend such things and really is starting to form her values.

Here’s to staying at the Motel 6’s and guesthouses of the world; that is the world I want my children to know (with a few Hyatt’s sprinkled in here and there – so mommy can relax in a sauna every once in a while).

Journey on!

Oh, I forgot to address the ridiculouness of the above photo.  Those are the safariRoosters themselves, soaking in a bathtub large enough to fit four adults, watching a Chinese cartoon, while the futuristic lights of Pudong, Shanghai glitter in the background.  Ridiculous, isn’t it?  Absurd, no?  Are they NOT the most fortunate little buggers you ever did see?  Pretty sure they had just eaten chocolate dipped sugar cookies that were waiting in our room for us upon arrival, oh boy.