A parental epiphany in Myanmar.

stairs Traveling with your (almost) adult child can be truly enlightening. I had many, many moments of enlightenment (and a few dark, gloomy hours) on my trip to Thailand and Myanmar this past December to visit my 22-year old daughter Lulu, who is teaching English in a small city outside Bangkok.

Welcome to Nathon Pathom!

My dramatic welcome to Nakhon Pathom, where Lulu — and these big fellows — are located!

First came the stupefying realization that my child was actually being seen with me in public on purpose .. and didn’t seem to feel the need to walk 30 paces behind me, or refuse to respond to me in the hopes that nobody would realize we’re related. In fact, she even proudly introduced me to her friends, students, supervisors and co-workers. Mon Dieu!!

Teacher Lulu waving across the school lake...

Teacher Lulu waving across the school lake…

Second, despite all my maternal inclinations to nag (I mean advise), I didn’t really have to remind Lulu to do anything that she was supposed to do. In fact, I started to experience a disconcerting sense of role reversal.  At night, while I spent precious hours welded to my earbuds obsessively watching pirated episodes of “Homeland” that I’d missed, Lulu was flopped on the bed grading papers, checking her notes, and humming quietly to herself. She was the one who chose the restaurants we went to and deciphered the Thai menu so that I didn’t end up ordering goat brains. The one time I decided to helpfully do a wash, I managed to thoroughly launder the camera that was tucked in her pants pocket, and wipe out all the photos on her flash card. How could I be so careless??!

On the road, when we got an after-hours tour of the Grand Palace in Bangkok… at the palace2

or hired a guide to tour the fabulous Temples of Bagan…

Hitlo Minlo Temple

or climbed the craggy steps of Mt. Popa… Lulu & Mt. Popa

or took an all-day tour of the water-logged towns of Inle Lake… lake house

inle fisherman

couple on river… why even then, Lulu didn’t slump down in her seat and refuse to look out the window lest she be intellectually bombarded with facts …NO! She was right on board, taking photos, listening intently, drinking in the remarkable sights, and being truly awake in the moment.Lulu & Buddha

Lulul listening.comFinally, when I – the presumptive parent – acted like a jerk when I didn’t get the room with the fabulous view of the temples that I’d obsessively searched out, requested, paid for and prayed for..morning balloons

…but instead was given a room with a view of a cement wall and scummy pond…

In my defense, this was the bad view from our room....

…I’m sorry to say that I did complain bitterly and pouted and under-tipped the sweet bellman and even kicked my shoes in frustration.

Then my beautiful global daughter (whom I’ve routinely bombarded with counsel on good manners and appropriate behavior) called me out for being a spoiled brat who doesn’t understand Southeast Asia or grasp how  good I actually have it, and then threw in the clincher: why are you bumming everybody out with your crap attitude over things that you can’t control and won’t change?

And that is when the Buddha – Buddha2(and believe me, by this point in the temple-laden trip, we’d seen plenty of that smiling, placid, peace-loving, he-knows-something-you-don’t guy)  –Buddha… had the last laugh.

Buddha3I suddenly got it.Nanpaya Buddha

The knowledge was sweet and a little bitter – but I realized inescapably that my baby girl is all grown up. my pretty girlShe’s smart, competent, courageous, and knows how to carry her own weight.

Lulu hauling water

In fact, she’s grand. lulu in doorwayNow I’m going to go put myself in timeout till I can deal with that.

(And if you’d like to hear Lulu’s perspective on this trip, check out her delightful blog at memyselfandthailand.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/christmas-on-inlay-myanmar-pt-2/)