From the category archives:

no manual for parenting

I’ve read the Millennials are the color-blind generation, and it’s always bothered me a bit. To be honest, I was hoping that I not be the person to break the bad news to my kids why this optimism is misplaced.

Millennials, as a whole, feel that colorblindness is something to strive toward, yet they believe in “celebrating diversity” within their “post-racial” generation. According to research compiled by MTV for a public affairs campaign to address bias, entitled “Look Different,” millennials believe they are more tolerant and diverse, profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness, and are less afflicted with “different treatment” than previous generations. Latinpost.com

There really is no point to this post – like most of my posts here. Yet another LOL-oh-so-hilarious irony that’s so sharp it cuts. Let me rewind a bit.

Scene: Dinner table

Cast: My family of four. Me. Husband. The two boys.

The subject of homecoming dance came up, well, because we have a 16-year-old. My 11 year old on a lark asked, “Hey, dad, who did you go to homecoming with?”

I laughed. “He went with Auntie Phuong.”

“It’s not Auntie Mai Phuong that we see every Christmas. It’s Auntie Phuong whom you probably don’t remember.” Husb added.

My 11 year old who would have chosen the faction of Candor if we lived in the Divergent universe blurted out with a “gotcha” smirk, “So, you have a thing for Asian women.”

The air froze around me. Or was it instead getting hot? Everything around me simply paused. The voices were coming from far away. I was pulled away from the set but also immediately thrown back down to earth violently.

I sucked in my upper lip and my nostrils might have flared. With my eyes shut tight, I took a deep breath.

I think I am going to lose my shit. 

“So…” I decided that I could not let this slide. Isn’t it part of our job as liberal, feminist, culturally and politically conscientious moms to take full advantage of teaching moments such as this?

“So. You’re suggesting that Dad went out with me not because of anything special about me as a person, but because I am Asian first and foremost?”

I think I am losing this. Look at those blank stares. They, both of them, don’t get it.

16-year-old being the diplomat that he is [Thank you Model UN!] stepped in, trying to broker a peace treaty, “Mom. I think you’re overreacting.”

I was ashamed. What kind of sane mother ruins a great family dinner by reacting so vehemently to her child’s innocent remarks? I stepped away from the table with resignation.

“Liberal, feminist, culturally and politically conscientious mom lost her shit when child spouted an honest, possibly innocent, observation that unfortunately harkened back to unequal racial dynamics and power relations”

The easier route would have been to let it go. But we never take the easier route, do we? So I marched the three steps back to the table, going in for the second round.

“No. I am not overreacting. That’s what we’re told every time we call out racist statements or behaviors. Oh you’re overreacting. It’s just a joke. Don’t take it too seriously. You should learn to take a joke. No. Not any more.”

Again, bless his heart, my 16 year old came to his brother’s defense, “That’s not a racist thing to say. It’s just an attribute. It’s no different than saying someone has a preference…”

I stopped dead right there.

I don’t think I am cut out for this. Fuck all these theories, post-colonial, performative, race and ethnicity, feminist, blah blah blah, they are useless when it comes to parenting. Useless when it comes to parenting this generation of kids. 

This generation of suburban kids who were brought up to be “color blind” by TV programs, YouTube videos, and Tumblr memes and GIFs are ignorantly and blissfully blind to racism. They simply do not believe in racism. And by not believing in racism, they believe that racism does not exist.

It’s like reverse Tinker Bell.

“We don’t believe!” Kids to racism.

Racism, “I am getting weak. I am dying.”

Poof. Racism gone. Dead.

[Scene. Lights up. Back to reality]

They think that people like me who cannot let “race” go are the problem. “Why does everything have to be about race?”

Believe me. I wish I were oblivious too, kids.

 

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Many would be mightily disappointed by the misleading title of this post. My apology.

By Tardis, I mean the awesome Tardis fleece blankets found on ThinkGeek. Each of the boys got one for Christmas. I was blue with envy as soon as I touched it. So soft and fuzzy.

Tardis blanket

AND it’s bigger on the inside! My son who’s holding the blanket in the picture is 6’2″. I decided to keep the two extra ones back home that I had ordered for my Whovian friends. I of course promptly forgot about them. The blankets. Not my friends.

Since Monday, Chicago along with the rest of the Midwest fell into the evil grip of Polar Vortex (Great name by the way for 1. a band, 2. a Bond villain, 3. an X-Men member, 4. a super powerful blender). I have proof:

20 below zero

 

This was why this happened at Lake Michigan shore:

Chicago ice town

Photo credit: Getty Images

 

Our school districts were closed for two days and the kids were suffering from cabin fever. As an argument was about to break out over who owned the Tardis blanket that’s downstairs (as opposed to the one upstairs), and I was about to step in and declare that it’s, surprise, surprise, MINE! I remembered and brought out the extra two Tardis blankets. Peace was restored. The boys and I wrapped ourselves in the deep blue plushiness and walked around the house like royalty.

Naturally, they’re late getting ready for bed again.

“Seriously. I am the worst parent.” I added, after I threatened to really enforce discipline this time if they did not go upstairs straightaways.

My 11-year-old boy turned to look at me in the eye. “You are the best parent,” he said quietly, “from a child’s perspective.”

So. Yup. There you have it. Definitely the worst parent.

 

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I am using this title because I don’t know what to call this post. The original title choices were:

Called a Psycho Mom on Mother’s Day and am proud of it

but that would leave nothing of substance for me to write because the title is basically the story.

or

Possibly One of the Best Mother’s Day Cards

and that would most likely make my youngest child sad because he’s been planning his awesome mother’s day gifts for me for days

Mothers Day 2013 I love my youngest for remembering how to fold the crane after I showed him only once, and what my favorite candy is after I mentioned it in passing…

 

while his oldest brother admitted, with pride mind you, “Hey, mom. I made this card more than two hours before. Aren’t you proud of me?”

 

Mothers Day Card 2013

 

 

We all got a good chuckle again because we watched Psycho together last night and found it ironic and hilarious and maybe even fitting that Psycho was our family movie night choice on the eve of Mother’s Day. A discussion over “What is the best Mother’s Day movie?” continued over Mother’s Day brunch (yes, yes, how typically suburban…) and the Alien movie franchise was agreed upon as the best cinematic tribute to mothers. You want proof?

The fundamental myth in mothers (even surrogate ones) genetically coded to do anything to protect their young is obvious in this image chosen to promote Aliens.

Aliens poster

 

Just look at Ellen Ripley, so deliciously played by Sigourney Weaver. (Most of us cheered when she uttered that famous line, “Get away from her you bitch!”) From the other side, didn’t the Queen Mother (the matriarch alien) fiercely protect the survival of her offspring? Not to mention all those scenes of forced cesarean births…

Instead of leaving you to ponder the above, I thought I’d leave you with something more lighthearted: Mother’s Day Cards That Should Exist” (Thanks to Mary Lee for a great chuckle!)

 

[Disclaimer] I am fortunate enough to have a great mother-in-law. In fact, sometimes I think I like her more than her son… Those cards though funny do make me a bit anxious from imaging my future daughter-in-law wanting to send me one of those…

[Sidebar Convo]: Being an overtly protective 21-century mother who feels guilty if not doing some helicopter-parenting and also if not providing my kids with sufficient independence that I am, I have not allowed my kids to watch any scary movie such as Fridays the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. They can decide to watch crazy horror films from Asia such as Ringu when they are adults, but never ever when they are still under my watch in my house. I’ve seen similar horror films when I was little and I regretted ever since. Till this day, the memories of horrifying images and scenarios stay with me, and they always resurface to the top of my consciousness when I am alone in a hotel room while on business trips. It’s very tough to be on intensive business trips if you can only fall asleep after 3 or 4 am from watching all the  reruns of Law & Order you could find on cable. It’s ridiculous.

[One more thing] After the kids presented their mother’s day presents, we all looked at my husband. “Hey, I made you a mother!” I guess we should thank all the dads on Mother’s Day.

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Nobody ever told me

February 22, 2013 no manual for parenting

About a year ago, my son grew to my height, and he has not shown any sign of slowing down ever since. He’s about half a foot taller than I am now, taller than his father even. It is a very complicated feeling whenever I am startled by having to strain my neck in order […]

18 comments

Moms for D&D

December 2, 2012 no manual for parenting

Confession: I am married to a geek. I am probably biased because I am surrounded day in and day out by awesome people who would have been labeled as geeks and dorks, including the three men in my house, my coworkers, and our family friends, but I really do believe that geeks make the best […]

16 comments

Wonder Woman

September 29, 2012 no manual for parenting

Warning: this post is probably just going to be me rambling on due to severe lack of sleep, even according to my standard…  These past two weeks have been the annual performance period at my company, the time when we have to write our own self ASSessments and to provide peer feedbacks for colleagues who […]

5 comments

What One Could Learn from the Game of Life

September 9, 2012 no manual for parenting

  Bad mommy confession: I hate playing board games. I still have horrible memories of spending hours playing Monopoly that would not end, and of course I went into bankruptcy half way through the game followed by a streak of bad lucks. Five hours later I was exhausted and bitter. That’s why even though my […]

15 comments

Graduation

June 4, 2012 no manual for parenting

My oldest is graduating from Junior High tomorrow. Having grown up outside of the U.S., I was blissfully unaware of the tradition of throwing “graduation parties” for kids graduating from junior high and senior high schools. It was a puzzling concept to say the least. Where I grew up, it is kind of expected that […]

24 comments

O rly?

May 6, 2012 no manual for parenting

  I don’t remember ever sign on a labor division agreement in which I am the designated parent in charge of school projects. Learn from my mistake: Before you get married, in addition to the pre-nup, AND the chore chart, make sure you and the other party agree on 50-50 should you ever become parents, […]

22 comments

Father and Daughter

April 14, 2012 no manual for parenting

I’m sitting in the train station with the only Starbucks in this town. This has been a routine of mine for Saturday mornings when the kids are at religious class. I like to think it’s free babysitting service provided by the Catholic church for me. “Awwwww. How cute!” I exclaimed to myself when I saw […]

22 comments