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my oldest

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.


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.


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 to see his face. It also makes it very difficult to hold his gaze and reprimand him when he sort of hovers above my head.

Up until now, I still see him as my baby. Well, secretly anyway. On paper I am all, “You are a teenager now. You have your freedom and independence. You need to learn to take care of yourself.” Honestly though? My heart does a toe touch jump when he lets us tuck him in at night as he lies in the bed that’s barely longer than he is now. He has to sleep diagonally.

They didn’t warn you that this day is coming. Probably because, well, one is supposed to have known better. Babies grow. Everybody gets older every day. Why are parents caught by surprise at all when their children all of a sudden stop being children?

Still, I marveled, “Nobody told me to be prepared for this! I am not ready yet!” when my 14-year-old announced from the bathroom as he brushed his teeth, “Mom! I need to start shaving! Kids at school have been making fun of my mustache.” I ran upstairs and we both stared at the shadow just above his lips in the mirror. Him of pride perhaps? I of shock. Did it sprout overnight? How come I did not notice it until this moment? I was at a loss. “Dad’s coming home tomorrow. He could teach you how.”

Lately he’s been full of surprises. Only that he did not recognize these to be significant watershed moments in his life. One never does, I guess, and leaves the commemoration and the commiseration over them to one’s parents.

“Hey mom, you need to sign me up for driving lessons. Ktahnksbye.”

“I am going to the [school dance] with [girl’s name unintelligible],” he announced casually and went back to reading his Mad magazine, leaving me breathless.

I am at a disadvantage as I did not grow up in this country. Many of these rites of passage taken for granted are completely foreign to me. My knowledge is to the extent of John Hughes movies that I’ve seen. (That, and Porky’s which was, coincidentally, the very first American movie I’ve ever seen on a VHS tape at a friend’s house when the parents were away…) I knew to remind him to find out the color of the dress the girl will be wearing. But that’s about it.

“Geez. You really need to help me out here. I’ve never been to a dance in my life!” I started to panic.

I did not know any men (or boys for that matter) until I was in college.

I did not learn how  to drive until I was over 25.

I have never shaved in my life.

I have never brought up a teenager before.

I have never had to watch somebody grow up so fast. Too fast.

I have never known this subtle, almost imperceptible yet keen once noticed, restlessness inside my gut of pride and fear and joy and sorrow.


Nobody ever told me.

No. They don’t.


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 you would graduate from high school. Junior high at the very least. Not even a question. [Disclaimer: My second oldest brother and his second son never graduated from junior high. But that’s another post I will never write] That being said, I am happy that Number One Son has several graduation parties lined up where he could go hang out with his school friends IN REAL LIFE and hopefully in the sun instead of spending all his waking hours indoors basking in the glow of the computer monitor on Minecraft.

IMO. The best parties are the ones not thrown by me.

I am going to sound like the old lady that I am by telling everybody, “When I was your age, I did not get squat for graduating from high school.” Well, I would be lying. When I passed the entrance exam and got into the best high school, my parents asked me, for the first time, what I would like as a prize. Without hesitation, I said, “Legos.” Legos were luxury goods back then. My parents kept their words and took me to the “American” toy store (Toys R Us) to pick out a Lego set for myself. It was one of those “dreams come true but then what?” stories – I think I enjoyed the fact of owning a set of Legos more than the Legos itself.

The day when the results of the college entrance exam were published, my dad came home with the newspaper and started looking for my name. When he found it, he asked what he could get me as a reward for bringing honor to the family. Ok. Kidding about the honor part. You didn’t really think we talk that way, did you? I told him, “I would like some cha siu bao [BBQ pork buns].” He immediately went out on his motorcycle and brought home ten piping hot pork buns. I ate them all in one sitting, much to my mother’s chagrin. To this day I know what I would say without hesitation if asked what my favorite food is in the world.

I never begrudge my children for “having it better” than I did. And really, are they really having it better? I never felt any want even though we were poor which I did not realize until much later in life, and only in retrospect. Life was easier for me to navigate because there was only one goal: study hard and get into a good school. (Of course, once you got into that good school, you kind of were lost. What now? …)

I am getting restless in anticipation of his graduation, but probably not for the right reason: I am dying to give him his graduation present.




Confession: I also wrote this post not for the right reason: I simply wanted to show you this awesome engraving.





The things I do for my children

January 15, 2012 no manual for parenting

When last summer was over, finding pants that fit all of a sudden became my obsession. Oh not for myself (I mean, that’s another, sad sad story). For the strange teenager that took over my oldest boy. Overnight the pants from BOYS’ department no longer fit him and those from MEN’s department won’t for a […]


Cool Parents. Oxy. Moron.

January 8, 2012 no manual for parenting

Confession: I have been obsessed with this website I came across from my 13-year-old’s Facebook wall. It is aptly named “I Waste So Much Time“. Unfortunately for my reputation, it is not a philosophical statement born from my existential angst. They omitted “On the Internet” in the name. This website is “curated” for middle schoolers… […]


Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t.

May 15, 2011 no manual for parenting

Because of my racial/ethnic/cultural/educational make-up, I do not watch what I tell my children: I tend to over-explain everything and over-analyze everything for them. I also like to point out instances of racial/cultural prejudices and stereotypes disregarding whether they may be too young for such identity politics theory talks. Sometimes I feel sorry for them ’cause […]



March 9, 2011 no manual for parenting

My firstborn is thirteen today. It’s official: I now have a bona fide teenager on my hand. I am still wavering about whether I should have made this birthday into a big deal or not. I hope he was not expecting a big to-do. I hope he was not expecting a PlayStation 3 this morning as he […]


Mens Size Small

November 16, 2010 no manual for parenting

This Sunday I dragged my kids shopping. I would like to emphasize how unusual this was: I am not crazy. I do not go shopping with them any more because I treasure my sanity and I dislike turning into a banshee inside the store. My secret banshee identity is reserved for inside the house, away […]


Opening up a can of whupass

October 11, 2010 no manual for parenting

I am fuming. Ok, what’s new, right? But this time it is something personal. It may be trivial but it has consumed me ever since I had the following exchange with my son this past Friday. After a whole weekend of thinking it over and calming down, my anger and indignation has been only stewing […]