After filming all week in NYC, the production team moved to East Hampton for the weekend: a wealthy coastal village located on the peninsula east of New York. Ayo and I drove out there with the guys, eager to discover a new part of the country. To Ayo’s delight, we joined the team on their first mission to film private helicopters coming in from NYC for the weekend. (This could be your life too for $3000 per person per ride!) Our weekend in the Hamptons was low-key because we were at the mercy of the production schedule as to when we could catch a ride from our housing to the village center. Where we stayed didn’t have the activities New York had on offer for this last part of our Ayomoon, but the contrast between extremely busy New York and the relaxed pace of the surrounding trees swaying in unison by the seaside was enjoyable too in its own way. We collected acorns and watched (chased!) squirrels around the house and then walked to the private harbor plastered with “access for boat owners only!” signs. We definitely own at least one toy boat, so we figured that should count. Later in the day and after all the stones on the beach had been thrown into the ocean, we got a ride into the village center and eventually found a playground.
At the playground, I got chatting with a sweet-spirited Hispanic lady, who was a house-keeper for wealthy vacation home owners in the village. Her two-year old son Jorge played with Ayo as we chatted about her life in the Hamptons. Even as a house-keeper, she has a nanny to care for little Jorge as it made more sense to her financially. Wow! We chatted for a while and then got back to playing with our respective sons. Ayo ran around the grassy field as I rested for one moment on one of the swings, still keeping an eye on him. Then, all of a sudden, a siren directly above us made the loudest, most alarming noise I have heard in my life. I was told later that because there aren’t enough paid emergency personnel, the siren alerts volunteers to run to the scene of an accident or a burning house according to the number of blows. Here the boys were, making a documentary about the pursuit of silence and my child was about to go deaf in the same village from the loudest sound I had heard in my 33 years of life on earth. The reason I share this detail is because the kind Hispanic woman, swept Jorge into her arms and ran to collect Ayo as well, gently cupping her hands over Ayo and Jorge’s ears, their other ear smothered into her cheeks. Both boys looked pale, as if they had seen a ghost, but remained still, cuddled in her embrace until I could get to them. The alarm still sounded above the jungle gym as I reached my son. I could feel the sound vibrating throughout Ayo’s ribcage. After thanking the lady, our ears ringing, we all quickly decided to leave the area. Besides being shocked that the siren could be placed near young children playing, I was left completely touched by this lady’s first reaction: to fetch and protect my child. In my experience, this sort of gut reaction is so rare for our independent Western culture, where we first look out for ourselves. For our own. For us. Sadly, I don’t think I would have ever thought to grab a stranger’s kid in the same swoop as mine in such a situation. We walked away, shaken up by the jarring experience (Ayo) and challenged (mama) by this beautiful sense of motherhood being synonymous with community, of a world bigger than one’s one.
All in all, Ayo did pretty well adjusting to the new surroundings with the exception of the sleep situation: new bed, new bedtime, new room. The reality of skipped or ultra short naps all week long, didn’t help our cause. I spent both evenings rocking him, singing to him, laying beside him, trying to get him to sleep for 2-3 hours. It was really miserable. I longed to enjoy a short evening chat with the hubs after his long day but ended up falling asleep completely exhausted, brimming with anger at how my evenings were a complete wash. The anger wasn’t towards Ayo, because we brought him into this situation in the first place, but rather because I felt forced to parent in a way that goes against everything we have worked so hard to achieve. When I think about it, I think this sort of “survival parenting” is the hardest part of travel at this stage for me. Ayo ate whatever, whenever, slept whenever, wherever (usually in our bed – meaning I woke up to uterus kicks, Ayo tickling me, him leaping into my jugular or bonking my head – not my thing) and whined for whatever, knowing in that short time, mama had become a softy for the sake of general sanity. It was definitely time for us to get back into our routine.