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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Boys Are from Mars, too

September 2, 2013 4 comments

Being born in the USA, the only Chinese I knew as a kid were the essentials: “Please”, “Thank you”, “money”, “cake”, and “Don’t hug me like that, Uncle Chen, that’s not appropriate touching.”

While the above words and phrases were useful for getting by at a restaurant or out of an uncomfortable embrace from a relative with wandering hands, my inability to speak fluent Chinese has always been a handicap. Never was this more evident than at the dinner table.

Whenever my parents had to talk about something they didn’t want us kids to understand, they’d speak in Chinese. Many a meal occurred where my folks engaged in lengthy conversations while we kids ignorantly sat and ate. It wasn’t until I took 3 years of Chinese in college that, looking back, I realized what my folks were talking about.  I remember one memory in particular.

We were eating dinner on a quiet Saturday evening. After a full day of sunburned play, we kids were happy to be indoors, safe from a surprise summer storm. My mom had spent the afternoon working on the meal, and it was delicious.

During the dinner, Dad nudged Mom, pointed to me with his chopsticks, and said in Chinese, “that boy’s not right.”

“I know,” Mom murmured without looking up from her bowl, “he worries me too.”

At 11 years old, I was obsessed with astronomy.  I had suspended a solar system from my bedroom ceiling and spent hours contemplating whether life existed on other planets. I was determined to communicate with these extra-terrestrials.

“Why’s he wearing that thing on his head?” Dad asked.

My Kommunicator 2000 was a piece of high-tech wizardry built by hand. It was finely-tuned, designed  to capture any alien communication that might be travelling through space. In a wearable 2 foot tall hat, it had three antennas sticking out. It was made out of cardboard, misshapen coat hangers, tape, and lot and lots of aluminum foil.

“Damn kid’s going to get zapped by lightning in the storm. The hell’s wrong with him?” said Dad.

“I know, I know,” Mom said. “Grandma calls him a Chinese Helen Keller.”

“Wait, wait. My mom said that?!´ asked Dad.

“Yes. YOUR mom said that.”

“Wow, that’s offensive…”

“I know.”

“…to Helen Keller,” continued Dad.

“Exactly.”

They both burst out laughing and continued without stopping for a full 30 seconds. We kids kept eating. They eventually calmed down.

“Why does he have tennis balls hanging from his ceiling?” asked Dad.

“They’re supposed to be planets in our solar system.”

“But none of them are painted!? They’re all still green.”

“He refuses to paint them,” Mom said.

“And there are 20 of them. So he thinks our solar system is made up of 20 Earths?” asked Dad.

“That’s what I wondered. I asked him, ‘Where’s Mars? Where’s Venus? Where’s Uranus?’ He just proudly pointed to his butt.”

“Seriously? What planet does he live on?” said Dad. “Damn. I guess that rules out Cal Tech.”

“Please,” lamented Mom.  “I ruled Cal Tech out long ago, after I clocked him spending 1 hour playing with his belly button lint.”

“But didn’t you say he would one day grow up to be an astronaut?”

“Yes, but that’s only because when he was small, he’d be so engrossed in his play. He absolutely refused to take a break to pee or poop. He’d go right in his pants. Just like an astronaut. I was being sarcastic.”

“Damn,” cursed Dad again.  He sighed loudly. Mom also sighed and tried to wave off her disappointment.

Dad grabbed one of my antennas as if it were a microphone and continued in Chinese: “Hello? Hello? Hey ET, when you grow up, don’t phone home.”

Mom cracked up again. Dad followed, and we kids cluelessly joined in the infectious laughter.

After 3 minutes of uninterrupted laughter, I asked smiling, “What?! Dad! What? What’s so funny? Tell us! Tell us, Daddy!”

We quieted down, Dad wiped his eyes and said in English, “Oh it’s nothing. We were just talking about real estate and how now’s a good time to buy.”

Slamming the Door Gently

August 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Dear Sweet Baby,

First off, I love you so much. You are a new addition to our family, and we cherish you.

Secondly, you can be a true pain in the a**.

I mean that.  Literally and figuratively.

Literally because the amount of time and energy you require is so overwhelming. Seriously, the only time I have a moment to myself to relax and escape all the insanity is when I go poop. Sometimes I stay on the toilet too long. Then my hemorrhoids flare up. Bad for Daddy.

Figuratively because your arrival has completely turned our lives and schedules upside-down. Everything revolves around you, the feeding, burping, soothing, changing of diapers, pumping, napping schedules… it’s endless. There is no more daddy, mommy, or sibling time. Just YouTime.

The stress grinds on Mama and Daddy and we fight. And you’ve even changed how we do that. Before I’d yell some final words at Mama, storm across the room, and slam the door.

BOOM!

Satisfying. Very satisfying.

Now, I can’t even do that. Because it’ll wake you from your nap.

So we argue in whispers and when I’m ready to make my Grand Exit, I grab and pull the door knob forcefully. But just-before-the-door hits the door jamb, I whirl around to stop it before it makes a loud noise. (Yeah, I can do that because I’m fast, and have manly athletic prowess.)

Yep. You’ve changed our lives.

As you grow up, never forget point #1. And when I’m old and decrepit, I’ll be sure to remind you of #2.

Love, Daddy

My Baby’s an A**hole

August 5, 2013 3 comments

When my wife was 20 weeks pregnant, she loved to report the baby kicking. At first, I was thrilled to hear of the little guy moving around. Nice to know he’s doing ok. Wifie felt especially connected to the kid— she loved to feel his little limbs and body developing each day.

But after doing a little research, my excitement quickly morphed into concern and then deep worry. Began reading articles online talking about how babies that are active in the womb often turn out to be colicky and difficult. After reading this, I thought, “Great, my baby’s an a**hole.”

I’m sure of this because I come from a line of a**holes. I see it in myself, my dad, and my grandma. I call it the “Huang A**hole Gene”. I’m also positive those who preceded Grandma were a**holes as well. Probably spent the bulk of the day tilling the fertile soils of Taiwan and then coming home to spend evenings berating the spouse and kids. In short, a typical and productive day.

Grandma was a real gem. Though she loved her grandkids, it took little to piss her off. Doing something stupid like leaving straggling grains of rice in the bowl after a meal was sure to result in a scolding.  In her mind, the damn Japanese never left Taiwan, the war is still raging and food is being rationed. So don’t waste anything you spoiled American kids. But we were ok with her, because we knew she loved us in her own way. Plus Grandpa was super cool and spent a lot of time with us. Looking back, I realize it was mainly because he was terrified of Grandma.

So I worry that my baby’s an a**hole. He’s kicking and punching and treating Wifie’s kidneys like punching bags.  In the stillness of the night, I thought I heard the distant cries of a dog missing his master. Turns out to be my wife’s kidneys whimpering. I’ve contemplated disciplining him. Yes. I said discipline.  Because I believe good parenting starts early. Really early. Discipline-in-the-womb early. Gentle discipline, of course. But still discipline.

I wonder if it’s ok to put a little pressure on him, just to let him know who’s boss. You know, like gently squeeze my wife’s tummy to mash his face into her stomach. Or maybe do an ultrasound, have our doctor locate the baby’s head and then I tap him on his melon, just to put a check on his attitude. It’s kind of my way of saying, “Hey buddy, you think you’re the sh*t? Yeah, well, I’m waiting for you.”

I told my wife my plans. She just stared at me. “Are you insane?” she asked. “What kind of idiot would even think that?” “But I’m not gonna raise a kid who’s an a**hole.” I coolly reasoned. She retorted: “He’s just a baby!! He can’t help it! [KICK] You’re being ridiculous! [PUNCH] Ooh, that was a big one. [JAB, UPPER-CUT, ROUNDHOUSE] He’s really active. I have to lie down. Don’t be a**hole!” she said protectively grabbing her belly as she walked away.

I stood there impressed at the baby’s control of his mommy and the situation.

A**hole Baby: 1

Daddy: 0

Game on, Little Man. Game on.

Dent be gone

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Figured out how to cover the dings and dents on the back of my aging minivan: use  school bumper stickers. Problem is while my kid is bright, she’s not Student-of-the-Month every month bright. Hope those stickers come in poster size.

My little kids

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I do enjoy having little children.

They’re so low to the ground– they’re really good at finding money.

Went to the Reagan museum

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Went to the Reagan museum, and saw a schedule of a typical day. Everything scheduled literally down to the minute. Marveled at how his well-planned a president’s day was. Just like mine. Except he was trying to run a country, and I’m just trying to keep the kids from maiming each other or blowing up the house.

Life Lessons for Children: Competition

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s hard teaching kids about competition. There can only be one winner and that always causes sad feelings.

My kid was in a foot race and was just about to win when she stumbled because someone threw a half-eaten burrito at her back. Crestfallen, she finished 2nd. I was waiting for her at the end and gave her a big hug. I said she did her best, and was secretly glad I didn’t finish my lunch from Taco Bell.

There can only be one.

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