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my kids are doomed because their mother learned from the best

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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The phone rang. At this hour I knew it has got to be from my mother.

What does she want this time? Is always my first thought. Then I feel guilty about it. More often than not, however, I get to stop feeling guilty because she is calling to add to my shopping list called “Shit to bring home to my families because that’s what you do when you are a Chinese living abroad and you welcome all ways to help assuage your guilt”.

Mom: What are you doing?

Me: Nothing. Putting the kids to bed.

Mom: I am calling to confirm the date and time when you arrive at the airport. Is it 10 pm on December 27?

Me: Yes.

Mom: Ok. … … … What are you doing?

Me: Yelling at the kids to take a bath.

Mom: Why are you always doing that when I call?

Me: Because you always call around this time?

Mom: Oh. Ha ha. Have you eaten yet?

Me: No.

Mom: What time is it now? How come you have not eaten yet? [Then why did you ask me in the first place?!] What are you going to eat?

Me: I don’t know. I am thinking of Ramen noodles.

Mom: What kind? Is it the Korean spicy kind?

This went on for a while. Then my mom repeated the same story she’d told me twice already.

Mom: So and so’s daughter is married to a foreigner too. Her grandson is so cute. Mixed kid, you know. And oh, he’s so adorable when he speaks Chinese. Oh yes, her daughter teaches the boy Chinese at home.

Me: … … …

Mom: Oh, yes, he speaks perfect Chinese.

Me: … … …

Mom: And they are back in Taiwan now.

Me: … … …

Mom: She also just went on a tour around the world [ok, probably not around the world…] with her daughter and her son-in-law. Oh. They took her everywhere.

Me: … … …

Mom: And her daughter is back in Taiwan now with her grandson.

Me: … … …

Mom: Hello? Are you still there? Why aren’t you saying anything?

Me [sighing silently]: So let me guess. Her daughter does not work. [Maybe the bitterness in my voice came through]

Mom [relenting]: Oh right. You have a job. My daughter is so smart and capable. [This was said without sarcasm. My mother does not do sarcasm. I don’t think she knows how.]

Me [wanting to die]: Ok. So why are you telling me about your friend who I do not know. You have told me this a few times.

Mom: Ha ha ha.

[I hate it so much when she says something that bothers me etc, then she tries to cover it up by saying, “I was just joking. You need to lighten up.” Well, no, mom, you were not joking. I have never heard you joke in my whole life.]

Mom: I was just telling you about my friend. You have to be very careful and not overdo it on the computers. She’s so near-sighted that she’s almost blind because she’s spent all her working years on the computer.

Me: Ok.

Mom: Not good to get too high a degree.

[You don’t need a subject when constructing a sentence in Chinese. IMO this greatly contributes to Chinese mothers’ passive aggressive ability because you never know whom they are referring to in their laments. It could be nobody. Yet it could be everybody.]

Mom: So smart. What’s the use? Get a degree and leave and not come back.

Me [bracing myself for the impact]: … … …

Mom: Just like my daughter, right?

Me [really wanting to die now]: … … …

Mom: Now just counting the days until my daughter comes home again.

Me [Must. Pretend. I. Did. Not. Hear. This. Because. There. Is. Nothing. I. Can. Do.] … … …

Mom: Alrighty then. You must be tired. Have you eaten yet?

Me: No.

Mom: Why not?

[I thought to myself, “We are waiting for Godot”, and became more depressed because this would be a joke that my folks would never ever get…]

Me: Because I have been talking to you on the phone?

Mom: Oh. Ha ha. Remember to add an egg when you cook your Ramen noodles.

Me [Still wanting to die]: Ok. Bye mom.

 

 

So far in my luggages, there are FOUR Coach bags, 1 pair of Coach shoes, expensive eye cream, face lotion, anti-wrinkle lotion, unicorn magical hair to eliminate wrinkle from someone who’s almost 80, etc etc etc.

Why do I still feel guilty?

Why do I feel guilty that I did not goof off at school, drop out, work at some seedy places, meet rich older men, become their mistresses, bear boy children for them, become a lady of leisure so I can hang out all the time, and buy houses and cars for my parents?

Fuck. this. shit.

 

 

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