Monday, May 30, 2016

Blessed & Grateful: Thoughts From A Family Outing

I was wearing a batik skirt for the outing. Batik is a traditional Indonesian fabric, made by hand, either hand0-stamped or hand-painted by local craftmens.
As Michael grew into a toddler, I started to notice similar theme on my friends' social media: pictures of them as parents, with their toddler children, visiting places of interest of our childhood.
You see, when we were little, our senses were much more atuned. Any new spectacle, smell and sound will hold us enthralled and mesmerized. The color of a new toy, the cheerful songs of a circus, the feel of petting a neighbor's dog, those all excited us and gave us joy. As we got older, everthing felt much more mundane and even what we used to think as spectacular became ordinary.
Logically speaking, I know that an otter who can count and a parrot who can spell are extraordinary, but having seen them a lot in the circus and numerous shows growing up, they no longer hold excitement for me. I no longer experience the same excitement as I used to as a child.
For that matter, theme parks, circus, and dolphin shows are less interest to me now compared to experiences that I have not had before, such as new Broadway shows and art museums. You know, boring, grown up attractions. Oh yeah, and traveling and occasionally - don't judge, it's just a woman thing - shopping.
A while back, both Hubby and I took a day off and took Michael to watch dolphin and sea lion shows at Seaworld. The venue is only twenty-minutes drive away, and there's no way we would take Michael on a weekend because the place turned into a zoo with throngs of people from all over Jakarta as well as tourists from other towns.
It was a successful family outings, and there were so many things I was grateful for. Very much.
Seeing Michael enjoying the shows.
Poker face. That's what Michael is. He rarely shows emotions nor excitements, well, except when he plays, of course. When he likes something, he will just say with a blank expression, "I like it, Mommy." No jump-up-and-down-excited thing from this child. However, during the sea lion show, his serious face lighted up, he cracked into a wide grin, laughed merrily, and exclaimed in cheerful glee, "Look, Mommy! The sea lion is so cute! I want to come here again one day!" That, generates a warm feeling and glow from deep inside my heart.


A husband who has grown into a better and better, more involved father.
It might be a simple gesture. It might be a small thing to some. But not to me. For me, there is nothing sexier than a man who is patiently and willingly take care of his toddler with such tenderness and manliness at the same time. From teaching his son to punch another boy who tried to bully him during the show (I'm a big believer that anyone is entitled to stand up for him/herself from bullying), to taking him to the male bathroom instead of having to go to the female bathroom with Mommy!

Michael was borrowing his father's sunglasses, striking a "cool" pose.

That we can really, really afford to go there again, and "take it for granted" should we have to.
This might lead some of the readers to critize me, and I have no intention whatsoever to boast. I am fully aware of how blessed and fortunate I am to be born in a relatively well-off family and married to a man who is a very good provider for the family. Not to mention that I myself also have a relatively good career with lots of perks, benefits, and flexibility.
Here's a background. Indonesia is not a developed country. It means, you will find very very very wealthy people here, and lots, lots and lots VERY poor people. The venue that we went to, is considered expensive for most Indonesian people, and a lot of parents will save and treat an outing to the place as a big excursion. Which means, quite often, it's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend such money, which will warrant the toddlers and parents to take in as much shows and attractions as they could squeeze into in one day. To go in, you need a pass that will cover all the shows, and if you don't have much money, you have been saving for a long time to enjoy the venue, not to mention that you are from out of town and most likely if you will not visit the capital again you won't get the chance to go, you have to take as much advantage of the day, as possible. So even if you are tired, and your children are tired, and in the tropics it could be as hot as a furnace, you will drag your family from show to show to get most of the money. Because you have been saving a lot for the occassion, and most likely, it would be many many years before you get the opportunity ever again.
For our family, it doesn't have to be that way. Because thanks to the income that my dear husband brought in every month, and my income, and the fact that we don't live far from the park, we could well afford to visit again should we want to. 
Though it was not a holiday, the park was jam packed. We started early in the morning, and at noon, Michael was tired already from only watching two shows, there was a lot of queing and walking going on. He didn't complain, but we noticed. Afterall, he is only three years old, and it was summertime in the tropics, in an outdoor venue. Seeing the excited faces of the children and parents around us, but also noting the worn, overheated, and tired expression on them, yet the determined look that they will keep going until the last show of the day, Hubby and I looked at each other and silently sent a little prayer of thanks to the Lord.
"Michael, are you tired already? Do you want to eat here and watch the dolphin show later or just leave to the mall to eat something?" Hubby asked our son.
"Will you take me back here one day to watch the dolphins?" Michael asked.
"Of course, when Mommy and Daddy have a day off and if you want to, we can."
"Then let's leave and have lunch, Daddy. I'm tired."
So that's it. We blew three full-priced tickets that could have lasted us for one full day, and left. We could go back after lunch, but Michael fell asleep already, so we headed home and tucked him in for his usual nap.
Let me tell you, Friends. I don't believe that money is evil. The love of money is. Money is only a tool. It cannot do anything. We can put it to good use, or bad use, either way.
And reality bites, I am thankful that eventhough we are not wealthy family, we lack nothing and God provides for us abundantly.

Now, there is an example of how we could put the money that the Lord entrusted to us in a good way.

We had fish and chips, New York style, at Fish&Co. I'm not a big fan of spending a lot on mineral water, but they only sell overpriced Equil, so we had no choice for Michael. Tap water is not drinkable in Indonesia, by the way.

Instead of spending money on Easter basket, Egg hunts, or Easter party, some coworkers from Catholic & Christian Community at my office joint forces together to visit an orphanage, as well as donating money and groceries. We deliberately picked an orphanage that is not well known, because the more "popular" ones have no difficulty getting donation.
At first, it seems like we could not collect enough money to make a sigificant contribution among ourselves. I suggested that they also spread the words to other coworkers outside the community. "Kindness has no religious border, " I tried to convinced them. "In my previous office I spread the words about donating feminine pads for an all girls' Catholic orphanage, and everyone, from any religion, gave something that my car was overflowed. I am sure that many many people want to donate should there is a possibility, it's just that they don't always know the way, where to send the donation to, or basically just too lazy to visit the orphanage themselves."
On the D-day, the money collected for donation was three times from our initial target.
It's so good to know that despite everything, there is still a good amount of kindness and love all around us. We just need to seek it and reach out.
And yes, a little bit of money won't hurt. ^__^

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