In the photo below: my buddy Jang-woong's son Ji-an, having reached the summit of Daemosan, puts his arms in a vee and forms another vee with his fingers, thus creating a meta-vee. Also meta: off to the left, you see the arms of Ji-an's dad, so this is a picture of someone taking a picture. Have I warped reality enough for you?
And here's a pic of yours truly with what sure looks like a tear of happiness rolling down my face. But it's not: it's just sweat. I do, however, like my expression, which really ought to win the Tom Cruise Award for Meaningfully Intense Looks. Yeah.
I met JW and son a little after 5PM; we drove over to the robotics high school and parked right there on the slope behind the high school, thus beginning our hike without preamble. Ji-an complained the entire way up, but he did manage, at some points, to stay ahead of us older guys, which I found surprising, given how much he had whined during our walk along one wall of Namhan-sanseong, a fortress located south of Seoul.
Once at the top, Ji-an airily declared the hike "easy," having suddenly forgotten how miserable he'd been on the way up (nay: all the way up!). When he wasn't complaining during the ascent, he was peppering me with questions about the Star Wars universe, although I suspected that Ji-an, who is much more of a Star Wars fan than I ever was, probably knew more about Star Wars than I currently do.
We hiked back down to the car—I on trembling legs as we negotiated the downhill path. Once back at my place, I prepped a groaning board of hamburger, salad, Doritos chips, Coke, hard-boiled eggs, and a dessert that was heavy on fruit: cherries and succulent pineapple slices that I impaled on chopsticks to serve Namdaemun Market-style. JW took a photo or two of his son chowing down on his burger; I completely forgot to take any pictures at all, so I'll have to ask JW to send me his.
The burgers were fat and juicy, although I made Ji-an's burger significantly smaller. JW and I ate two burgers each; Ji-an, whose eyes had been bigger than his stomach, polished off only one burger, as I'd anticipated, then he contented himself with eating a small bowl of shredded cheddar cheese, the bizarre little creature.
We then drove close to my creekside path and walked a few kilometers up and down its length, passing the frog pond—which is now filled with rice plants that I assume will be harvested in the fall—and lamenting the absence of tadpoles (I did show Ji-an my video of the tadpoles). All in all, I racked up a bit over 17,000 steps for Sunday.
Sometime after 10PM, JW took himself and Ji-an home. We were all pooped. It had been a good day with them; Ji-an's quite a character. His parents are worried about his future, given that the boy has left the Western-style international school in India and is now part of the hyper-accelerated Korean rat race. Since Ji-an has expressed an interest in science, JW and I talked a bit about the robotics high school, which is actually quite close to where JW and his family are living now. I hope JW does some research on the school to see whether it might be a good fit for Ji-an. I think it might.
I got that JW and his wife have some of the same fears many parents do about their kids: in particular, the fear of making a mistake that radically affects their kids' futures. From what I've seen of my married friends in the States, who now have kids in high school and/or college, it's not so much the specific decisions that are important: it's whether the parents actually care and, further, whether the kids pick up on that care. Parents will inevitably make mistakes: no one knows the future; parents aren't omniscient; kids and parents often fail to see the world the same way. The potential for mistakes is great. But if kids know their parents care about them and about their future, then the world seems that much safer, that much more secure. To me, that care is much more important than whatever specific decisions are made about children's futures.
No idea why I went off on that digression, but there we are. To sum up then: we enjoyed a sweaty climb up the mountain, a rib-sticking dinner, and a decent evening walk that involved a lot of talk about Star Wars and Marvel. No tadpoles, alas, but there was a lot of croaking near the frog pond.