Monday, November 1, 2010

Super Mom or Psycho Mom?

I don't consciously set out to be a super mom, but my actions might sometimes indicate that this is my sole purpose in life. Take, for example, my experience in Hong Kong a few weeks ago.

 My husband had gone to the states and the kids and I stayed back in Hong Kong for a few days. Our Hong Kong vacation and the plans we'd made hadn't gone as well as we'd hoped. The anticipated majestic dolphin exploration turned out to be---and I am not exaggerating---a nightmare for my kids. The quaint fishing village turned out to be---well, a smelly village. The “beach” was not all it was cracked up to be in oh, so many ways.
So, in my efforts to compensate for my kids' less-than-stellar experience, I set out to do the impossible. Take 3 children (ages 6, 5, and 3) from Lantau island to Hong Kong's Ocean Park for the day. Other adults to help? No. A stroller to carry the little one? Nope. Sturdy shoes? No chance. The determination that Mommy could make it all better with one trip to this fantastic amusement park? Absolutely.

 And so, after ten minutes of fun I was carrying my youngest around since he was already exhausted and really, kind of bored. There were very few rides that my little ones could enjoy as they were meant for older kids. But our goal was to see that dolphin show and Mommy was bound and determined we were going to have FUN!! Did I mention we did this excursion during national holiday? Did I mention it was insanely crowded? Did I mention that we had to sit down an hour before the dolphin show began in order to save our seats? Oh, and did I mention that after sitting for an hour, and watching that stadium fill to beyond capacity, right as the show was about to begin, my youngest son said, “Mommy, I have to go potty.”

 We made it through the dolphin show without leaving our seats. I distracted my little one sufficiently but don't you know I had an empty sprite bottle ready, just in case. There was no way we were all getting up to take him to the bathroom, as we would have definitely lost our seats---and all of this would have been for nothing. After the show, and it was wonderful, we were beat and planned to simply find the exit and leave. After all, we still had a train to catch, and a border to cross, followed by a two-hour journey back home. We'd had fun. We'd seen the dolphins. Time to move on. Happy experience accomplished.

 Not so fast, Lori Qian. The exit was eluding us. It literally seemed to have moved locations. We walked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. My 5-year-old daughter said it best: “Mom, this is so frustrating because everyone is giving us different directions”. Exactly. Did I mention it started to rain? Did I mention I was still carrying my youngest? And did I mention that the strap...of my flip flop...broke?

 Yes. By the time I found a security guard and heard him utter the words, “You need to go to the other side of the park...”, the tears were beginning to fall.

 I told the guard, who I'm sure thought I was a mental patient: “No, the exit simply cannot be that far away. You see, my shoe is broken, my son is heavy, and we've walked this path for 20 minutes. I just want to get out of here!”. Mind you, all of this dialogue took place in a mixture of Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

I willed that man with the sheer desperation in my eyes to help me. He did. He walked with us and showed us the long, long, long way to the front gate. I must have looked like Igor, dragging my leg behind me, holding the strap to my shoe between my two toes with all my might, carrying this heavy 3-year old, breathlessly encouraging my other two kids to keep going and not give up the fight.

 We eventually made it to the exit and the story doesn't get much better. More rain was involved, as were long lines for a taxi. One more layer of frosting to add to this cake. We made it to the promised land---I mean, McDonald's, just in time for my youngest to have a temper tantrum. I found a table for the other two and told them to sit tight and not talk to strangers. I calmly told my youngest that if he didn't get up off the floor, a bad person would take him. For this, I was awarded some strange stares from people around me.
 I left him on the floor, flailing about, and limped up to the counter to order their happy meals, which I knew would make it all better. Remember, I'm all about fun!

I ordered all the necessities, secured everything on the two trays and carefully began limping back to the table, dragging that shoe with all my might. All of a sudden, it happened. I dropped the happy meal toy. Now, I'd held it together today. I really had. Except for that hint of crying at Ocean Park, I'd been pretty tough. But this...was going to be too much. I matter-of-factly---and very uncharacteristically--- whispered an expletive, to which a sympathetic woman responded by picking up the toy and putting it on my tray. I wanted to hug her.

 I made it back to the table, put out the feast of nuggets, french fries, and Sprite and took a big breath. Super Mom or Psycho Mom? You tell me.

We had such a fantastic time on our recent trip to Utah.  Our kids have grown up in sub-tropical Guangzhou, so the concept of autumn w...