Monday, July 02, 2012

Turning One

Three hundred and sixty five days after catastrophic translocation into the world of bright lights and cold air, Baengy turned one. In the beginning, a faint awareness of environment and self coalesced as mixed feelings of warmth or discomfort were liberally applied by unseen hands of immeasurable strength. As the world continued to turn, it was observed that objects afar became less blurry, things nearby could be grasped with hands, and milk could be summoned through vocalisation of the hunger pains arising from the stomach area.

Babies become noticeably more human at twelve months of age. At this milestone, any new kind of food is first inspected before being eaten and the two large people walking around the house become known as omma and da-da.

Heather and I do what we can to raise (but not smother) and mother (but not spoil) our little bundle of joy and wonder. It's an infinitely fulfilling learning experience, as Baengy drags us, kicking and screaming through parenthood.

First birthdays are big events in Korea. As such, a meeting was held between the ladies of the Farrand house, in which it was decided that a trip to Busan would happily fulfill all familial expectations of the (Heather) Jung family.

After all, Busan is where the largest concentration of Jung's choose to reside.

It's also where the joy of soap bubbles can be shared with fellow infants graduating towards toddlerhood.

The house of Jung halmoni is the agreed location at which various family offspring interact under the collective watchful eye of seasoned caregivers.

Offspring are free to eat and do mostly as wished, save for a few hard rules.

Eating of fruit: allowed
Eating bits of rubbish: not allowed
Clapping of hands: allowed
Slapping each other's faces: not allowed

Baengy is the fourth of five granddaughters in her family chapter. The benefits of successful infant-politics are vast, and include access to used toys, as well as the transfer of intimate know-how concerning their operation.

The eldest granddaughter is Ji-Ye, who evidently derives much humour and satisfaction from blocking camera shots.

It wasn't long before we had Baengy hanbokked up and ready to go. In Korea, the first birthday often includes a dol ceremony, in which various articles said to symbolise future life developments are laid out on a table. For example, a pen can symbolise academia, money can symbolise wealth and a piece of string can symbolise a long life. The first-birthdayee is then placed in front of the table and reaches out for an item, that will supposedly foretell their future happenings. Baengy usually grabs whatever looks interesting, and she reached out and grabbed the money.

I guess that means we can retire early.

Although an early night was had, it seems the festivities lasting until 8:30pm were sufficient to induce deep daytime sleep the following day. Heather and I used the opportunity to relax and recharge.

The simple act of falling asleep at the right time of day can be a priceless gift. Like all parents who know that such occasions are not to be trifled with, we let the sleeping baby lie.

One and a half hours of paradise later, Baengy was up and learning about flowers.

Traveling on a high speed train with a high maintenance baby is both exhilarating and exhausting. Parents attempting to do so are advised to pack plenty of snacks and plenty of patience.

We also had a small gathering in Seoul at the Hoam Faculty House on campus. Drinks and mischief flowed freely.

On the right is Ji-An, on a reciprocal visit after we dropped by on her first birthday a few months ago. Her father, Joe, is a fellow Nanoomite who runs ZenKimchi. They're currently organising some exciting Food Tours in Korea.

If you're in Korea and looking for something different, I recommend checking them out via this link.

All in all, Baengy's first birthday was a resounding success. It was my 30th as well, which was nicely convenient. But once a baby is begotten, one's own birthday becomes decreasingly relevant. I guess that's a good thing.

Thanks to all the well-wishers!