Jet Lag

Cookie, Mommy and I are seasoned travelers, very used to dealing with jet lag.  The easiest way is to book the flight to land in the evening, local time, stay up the entire trip, and sleep the night through once you get there.  You end up with a tiring 36-hour travel day, a full night’s sleep, and the ability to enjoy the rest of your vacation. Usually, the problem with this plan is that I’m not fully functional towards the end of those 36 hours*, so if I’m going somewhere interesting (i.e. somewhere people need to shout at me in an unknown language to take the ferry transfer on the second dock for the resort island, not the ferry on the first to the island of the head-shrinking cannibals where idiot tourists often go “inexplicably” missing), I tend to sleep on the plane to make sure I get to the right place alive.  Going to Seoul, however, was safe (I presume that mistakenly taking the wrong exit to North Korea would be difficult, even for the sleep deprived), especially with Halmoni waiting for us at the airport, so Mommy and I stayed awake.  You did too.


International airlines provide so much better service than American ones.  Korean Air, famous for that executive who had a meltdown because her nuts were served in a bag, not a bowl, was exceptional –four course meals, free wine, beer, and juice, and, most importantly, a fully unlocked entertainment console.  We expected you to sleep, but after getting your hands on the console and its little remote (bonus features included access to the plane’s nose, belly, and tail cameras), you stayed up the entire fourteen hour flight.  So engrossed with you in your programs that you missed Mommy and I prematurely high-fiving each other on your adoption of our jet lag schedule.


After a quick return to the airport to pick up your forgotten car seat*** (the Korean version of the TSA is much more understanding and courteous.****), an hour drive into Seoul, an quick dinner, we were finally ready to sleep… until we learned that circadian dysrhythmia is not so easily cured in toddlers.  You woke up every two hours and refused to go back to sleep.  This was the pain of new-born breastfeeding all over again, only with a talking toddler who, unfortunately, made sense.

Me begging:  Cookie, go back to sleep.  It’s the middle of the night and dark outside.

Cookie: No, the sun is wrong.  It should be light out.

Me:  But we’re on the other side of the world, and it’s dark here.

Cookie:  Then the sun should adjust to us.

You slept through much of our first few days in Seoul and stayed up nights.  Guess who was the poor, sleep deprived guy that had to push and carry you and your stroller through the decidedly un-stroller friendly streets?


*  In fairness to me, it’s more like 84 hours, since the previous couple days are a madhouse of trying to finish work, trying to prepare our aquariums for vacation, and trying to pack (Mommy never packs).

**  14 hour flights are way too long.  After 5 movies, dinner, and second dinner, we’re still not there.  Flying over the pole also leaves no scenery to watch, as ice is just ice.  No aurora borealis either.

***  Hazards of the jet lag plan.

****  Apparently any excuse that beings with “Eggi…” in Korea is an acceptable one.

Biggest Koreatown Ever

Cookie:  This is the BIGGEST Koreatown.  Ever.

Me: Well, we’re in Seoul, Cookie.  Koreatowns are only part of the city.  Seoul is the whole city.

Cookie:  Well, Seoul is part of the world, right?  It’s the biggest Koreatown in the world.

Me:  …  huh.

After a long flight (more on that later), we landed in Incheon.  Halmoni picked us up from the airport and drove us to the hotel in Seoul.  Trying to adjust to the local time, we grabbed dinner in Insadong, and even from the perspective of a New Yorker, Seoul is… crowded.  It’s a riot of color and sounds, with a density of restaurants and shops and people unseen in the west.  In New York we have shops at street level with the occasional restaurant above street level.  Only the busiest stations have eateries below ground.  In Seoul, many walkups have every floor opened as a business, each with bright signs and brighter lights. Restaurants not only spill onto the sidewalks, they’re opened on city sidewalks as rows of tents.  The miles of subway tunnels and other underground passages are lined shopping and food.



International Trade

Cookie, seeing Mommy and Daddy pack:  I need to pack toys for vacation.

Me: No, Cookie, we don’t take toys on vacation.

Cookie:  Oh, yeah.  Grandma and Grandpa have toys at their house.

Me:  No, Cookie, we’re going to Korea to visit Halmoni*, not Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Florida.

Cookie:  Oh ok.  We can buy new toys in Korea.  They’re cheaper there.

Me: …!

Five thoughts ran through my brain:

A.  Yep, that’s true, but where did you learn that?

B.  Yep, you’re spoiled.  I need to teach you a little bit about expecting toys from everywhere we go.

C.  Yep, that’s true, but where?

D.  It’s a long plane ride, so you probably should pack some toys.**

E.  Yep, that’s true, but?


* Korean for “grandmother.”

**  Future omniscient dad note: you ended up packing a few toys and played with none of them.

Learning How to Lie Properly, Epilogue

*After catching you in a lie about who poured water all over the bathroom:

Me:  Cookie, you have to tell the truth, ok?  You can’t say something that didn’t happen.

Cookie: Ok.

Me:  If you did it, you must tell Mommy and Daddy you did it.

Cookie: Ok.

*Later that day:

Me:  What is that smell?

Cookie:  I did it!  I farted!

Me:  *gag*  Ok, Cookie.  Good job telling the truth.

Cookie:  The truth is funny!  I farted!

Mommy:  Why is she proud of her farts?  What did you teach her?

The consequences of teaching you to tell the truth is that now, two years later, you really are proud of your farts.  At your aunt’s wedding, you wowed everyone by flawlessly switching between your four languages, answering different people in the language of the questions asked.  While they were congratulating you, you raised both hands to stop everyone.  In a dead serious tone, you proudly announced that you spoke another language, whereupon you, in your little flower girl dress, turned around, raised your butt, and let one fly.

Learning How to Lie Properly, Part 2

The next evolution of the fart saga occurred when your behind bellowed in a crowded elevator.  Your stroller stood in the corner, and the source of the noise not only came from your direction, it also came from direction lower than what would have been possible for the other adults present.

Cookie: Not me!

All of the adults grinned at the obviously false proclamation of an one-year-old… until the noxious fumes caused people with weaker stomachs to gag.  I had to wait for fresh air before explaining:

Me:  Cookie, you can’t deny it’s you, when everyone knows it’s you.

Cookie:  Ok, Daddy.

The wheels of your brain churning were clearly evident on your face.  The next fart came a few minutes later.

Cookie waving your arms like a Madagascar penguin:  You didn’t hear anything.

Learning How to Lie Properly

Also known as, should I really be teaching my one-year-old this stuff?

This story starts, as many of these stories start, with a fart.  It was a loud fart, like a balloon popping, a sound that startled both you and me.  We were in the middle of changing you into your pjs, just after brushing your teeth and before reading your bedtime books.  Mommy was still in the kitchen cleaning up the dinner plates.

Me:  That was a big one!

Cookie: Mommy did it.

Me: No, Mommy didn’t do it; she’s not even here.

Cookie: Oh.

Your face shows some serious thought occurring in that brain of yours.

Cookie:  Then, you did it!

Me: No, I would know if I did it.  You can’t blame someone else for your fart if everyone knows it’s not true.

Ten minutes later, after Mommy had joined us, and while we’re reading books, you let another loud fart rip.

Cookie:  I didn’t do it.  You don’t know if Mommy did it, and you don’t know if Daddy did it!

Mommy:  !   What did you teach her?

That Is Not What the Cry Room Is For, But They’re Definitely Crying Now

Cookie, as a baby, you rarely cried in church.  Instead, you’d do… other things.  At just under a year old, you had the comedic timing and the premeditation to wait until the entire church was silent before ripping off a monstrous fart, followed by a loud giggle.


Another loud giggle.  I tried to shush you, but I gagged on the smell.  A demon brew of rotten eggs, limburger, feet, durian, and sulfur left to marinate in a sweaty gym bag would have smelled better.  My eyes were watering, but I was kept focused on that moment by your loud voice echoing in the stunned silence.


By this time, I was halfway down the aisle with you, but your farts didn’t stop, and the more you farted, the harder you giggled.  Where most new parents carry a crying baby to the cry room, I carried a gassy, giggling baby, trailing a cloud of toxic fumes in our wake, with the entire nave echoing from your thunderous farts and louder giggles. The only good news was that instead of annoyed faces, I walked out to the suppressed grins from the other parents and the scattered laughter of the other kids.

The other babies and parents in the cry room were not quite as pleased.