On being home

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My daughter and I hanging out after an appointment, watching some big machines do their work.

Suddenly we are home. We have no place we have to go during the day. No shops to check out, no museums we must see, no zoos to visit, no lunch to be found and no dinner either.

We are home, waking up, taking the dog, making breakfast, buying groceries and doing laundry. Today I washed sheets for the first time in a half a year. I feel a bit annoyed, like 5%, at having to clean up the kitchen several times a day, but not really. Really, I am happy that I can prepare healthy food that I choose, from a recipe, and try to find things that my family and I will like.

So that is nice.

With Kiddo, it is hard to tell how the big uprooting is affecting her. She has been having super big meltdowns. We had put the pause button on requiring much of her. She was being a great kid on the trip, but she was also watching a lot of videos, eating a lot of junk food, and otherwise having habits that I generally hope she wouldn’t do under normal conditions. Now, I think it has been an adjustment. She had a meltdown asking for chips the other day. Someone who stayed in our apartment through airbnb had bought them and left an unopened packet, and I made the mistake of offering them to her when I was trying to finish a phone call, and then she wanted them for the rest of the day. But she hasn’t asked for them since.

She wants to watch videos, but not as much as when we were on the trip. I am pretty radical about screen time in that I believe that if allowed unlimited access (or just about), it becomes one other toy in a whole world of toys, and not a limited and therefore attractive good. So I was a bit concerned that she became used to seeing a lot of videos and playing with a lot of apps since those were easy to have with us, and our small stash of toys was not constantly appealing. Now that we are home, she will go all day without asking for the iPad. She still can get a bit overloaded if she watches it for a long time, but then I try to talk to her about it and find other things to focus on, and she will then forget about it for hours and hours.

She still likes books! We only had one book with us. Well, we had a few more, but we sent them home from Hawaii because they were just taking up space and there were so many things we were doing in the day we were making up our own stories. Now, she goes looking for her books, and loves talking about the pictures and the stories. A lot of video time did not make her forget that books are their own kind of magical, too.

She is still a music loving, animal loving kid. We tried to give her access to these pursuits on our trip (mostly animals, but also listening to music in the car and in the hotel/motel rooms), but it is different when you are out in the world, with beaches and car trips and new birds and zoos and cool museums and things – and I think it can be hard to be sure if your passions are still there or if you are just a passive spectator to exhibits that look nice. To illustrate my point, which I am not sure I am making well at all, I have a story:

We were watching Enchanted, the movie, because I was tired of playing with blocks and the toy kitchen and I heard “Happy Working Song” on my run and thought it would be fun to watch it with her. When it started, I thought, “oh dear, what have you done? It is an over the top princess movie, with full on stereotyped ditzy princesses and knights in shining armor and what have I done?” Well, the thing she hasn’t stopped talking about was about rescuing the dragon, which was actually the evil queen, who gets killed by the valiant Patrick Dempsey. We went outside for a walk this morning to “rescue the dragon!” “with a plane!” “woohoooooo!”

Okay, so my daughter is still able to take a lot of stimuli and walk away with her passions intact – living creatures, big or small, imaginary or not. It was a fun lesson.

Speaking of coming out of a passive tourist state, I have been getting back into meditation. I went to a course on Saturday about the Buddhist concept of the art of loving kindness. It was interesting and it gave me an even deeper respect for Buddhists. I tried reading a book one time and I don’t think I would ever be a full on Buddhist, but I do like their teachings a lot. As I discussed with one of the participants at the course, Buddhism seems to be the only religion that doesn’t qualify their teachings on love with “but.” Like, “love thy neighbor, unless he is of another religion, and then convert him.” Or something.

Anyway, it is nice to be back and to be able to do other things than just looking around and seeing new and exciting things. It is nice to be able to lose myself in a book, to explore interested that came up or deepened while on the road, without feeling like I am taking time away from seeing a place I don’t know if I will ever see again. I have sewed a lot since we got back. I have cooked for more hours in the last three weeks than I have in the last maybe months before we left, even. We have just been outside to be outside, not to catch a bus and go across town and no something. And when we have had to go across town and do things (an amazingly long list of things pile up to do when you are gone half a year! – well baby visits, residence permits, vet appointments, and so on), we take our time. We pack a lunch and sit around, watching construction sites when we come upon them and collecting leaves or rocks at other times. It is pretty awesome.

Traveling the world was amazing, but so is coming home. 

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