Children's Day

On Wednesday, Spencer and I celebrated Children's Day, a Korean holiday that occurs every year on May 5th. (I went back into my archives to see what we had done last year and realized that was the day I was so sick I was almost brought to the hospital. I figured it would be easy to top *that* celebration).

Children's Day (orini nal) is a South Korean national holiday founded by the Korean children's writer Pang Chong-hwan in 1923 as a way to instill in the children a sense of independence and national pride. Children's Day highlights the dignity of children and their need for love, care, and respect. It is also a day to honor adults that have contributed to improving the lives of children.

Children of all ages are celebrated during Children's Day and the entire community is involved in the festivity. Many cities have parades and public activities and museums, zoos, amusement parks, and movie theaters offer free admission to children. Traditional games, such as yut are played. Gifts are given to children from their parents and from stores that the children visit during Children's Day.

I absolutely adore the idea of this holiday. While I'm not one who's big on the whole Mother's Day concept (which is a whole different post), I'm ironically very big on this concept. Obviously, part of that stems from a desire to connect Spencer to his heritage wherever we [comfortably] can. After thinking about it for a little while, I think that it also stems from the feeling that children *aren't* celebrated enough in this country. I feel like a holiday that makes them feel special and loved can only do good things for their confidence, their well-being, and their soul. I plan to make this a tradition, and hope that Spencer enjoys the future ones as much as he enjoyed this one.

I worked hard to come up with a day that celebrated Spencer as he is at this moment in time. We started with a trip to the local zoo. (We had last visited this zoo shortly after Spencer came home.) Spencer is very into animals right now (especially elephants and birds) and loves to watch them. Not only that, the zoo has a choo choo that I knew would be a big hit as well. I wasn't surprised when we spent hours at this [very tiny] zoo. I think we spent almost 20 minutes (which is an eternity in Spencer-time) watching the sea otter alone! He was just riveted. I saw a lot of this:

DSC_0099 DSC_0110 DSC_0116

DSC_0111

We also saw a sculpture that Spencer made quick friends with:

DSC_0132 DSC_0137 DSC_0134

After making our way through all the animal exhibits, I asked Spencer if he wanted to ride the train. I wasn't surprised when he started running towards the train stop. By this point, we had seen the train over a dozen times. Each time the train passed, Spencer would make the "choo choo" sign, start waving at the conductor and then chased the train as it passed by. So when the conductor saw us waiting in line, she said "I thought I would be seeing you!" We got to ride in the caboose, which just made it all the more special, as you could see in the photos in this post. While he "claimed" he didn't enjoy the ride, he spent the next half an hour asking for "choo choo please" ... It was hard to tell him no. (But we had other surprises in store!)

The zoo is attached to a large park and a beautiful playground. So our next stop was a picnic bench where we had Spencer's favorite snack foods as lunch. We had some cheese and crackers, along with some apple slices and grapes. (Add in wine and you would have had a cocktail hour, no?) I also pulled out a small jug of milk that I let him drink "big boy" style. (Meaning no straw) He did very well, although I was a basket case.

After lunch, we headed over to the playground and had a blast. Not only is it the perfect size for him (and very parent-friendly with lots of "escape routes" in important places like next to the slides... don't even get me started on playgrounds that don't give the parents an easy way down!), the playground also has a lot of "sensory" stations. So he was able to play a huge xylophone, sit on a large "wishing rock" and bang a wood "drum." It was a hit. In fact, I was so busy chasing him, I only got one decent shot in:

DSC_0143

After a long play session, we strolled along some of the paths through the park. We found a set of unoccupied benches and Spencer had a blast climbing on them. The following photos are completely unprompted, and I love them. Even if he does look too old for my liking!

DSC_0163

DSC_0164-2 DSC_0166

By this point we had spent over five hours here, so we got back in the car (much to Spencer's chagrin) and started back home. Just as I expected, Spencer was fast asleep before we even exited the park.

After a long nap in the driveway, I prepared the final part of Spencer's special day... ice cream sundaes! Now, let me explain how big a deal this was. Spencer has 1) never had real ice cream and 2) never had his own bowl of any sort of dessert treat. So when a bowl of ice cream, covered with chocolate sauce and star sprinkles was placed in front of him, he didn't even touch it! I think he was in a state of disbelief. He quickly got over that though and dug in:

DSC_0175 DSC_0174 DSC_0177 DSC_0178

All in all, a very successful Children's Day! I think Spencer really did feel special all day long, and I love that I was able to give him that.