Archive for » January, 2011 «

My 10 year old’s entire 5th grade class participated in the NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. National Novel Writing Month happens every November. It is a wonderful nationwide program where they challenge and encourage writers young and old to write an entire novel within one month, and to help them publish it.

Last Sunday, the program directors hosted a reading event for the young writers from all over the Bay Area at Booksmith. Booksmith is a well established independent bookstore in the famed Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco. All but one of the 31 students in my child’s 5th grade class finished their novel in time. So, our 5th grade class was one of the few schools who received a special invitation to this reading event. My 10 year old was one of the three readers representing our Elementary school.

BookSmith in San Francisco


The event started at 4PM, by the time we arrived at 3:45PM, the entire back section of the book store was packed with aspiring young writers and their adoring fans and families. All the seats were taken, and we had to be content with standing behind rows of other people also without chairs.

Luckily there was a microphone for the readers, so all of the audience could hear the children’s highly imaginative and entertaining stories, which were sometimes funny, sometimes curiously absurd, and sometimes both. The children invited to this event ranged from Kindergarten to Junior High, and each child was alloted just a few minutes to read.

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Reading Event Intro


When my 10-year-old’s name was announced over the microphone by the program director, I managed to squeeze past to the front of the standing spectators for a peak, and I saw my 10 year old standing confidently in front of the mic, and announced with a loud and clear speaking voice:

“My Novel is called ‘An Unexpected Journey,’ and I am going to read you my second-favorite part of the story:

~Chapter Six~
Dinosaurs
Even the toy dinosaurs that trashed Trevor’s room couldn’t outnumber these. There were dinosaurs of every shape and size, every color and fierceness, herbivores and carnivores, and even omnivores. There were baby dinosaurs and grown dinosaurs, and some smaller some bigger. Bella stared in awe at the numerous pteranodons, triceratops, stegosauruses, T-rexes, brontosauruses, and other dinosaurs she recognized from Trevor’s long lectures on dinosaurs at the dinner table.
‘Wow,’ she breathed. She was so amazed. ‘What is this place?’ she squeaked when she could say anything other than ‘wow.’
Liliana looked at her. She didn’t seem very amazed about the dinosaur world. ‘I don’t really know,’ she said.
‘You brought me here!’ Bella exclaimed. ‘Can we go home now?’
‘Greetings, Creatures, and sorry if we are interrupting something. I think I may have seen your kinds before…I could have it written in my book…’ mumbled a timid voice behind them.
Bella’s eyes flashed. She clenched her fists, whirled around, and found herself face-to-face with…the smallest dinosaur she’d ever seen. It was some strange rat-sized butterfly-winged red dinosaur that had a tiny violin, a tiny quiver of tiny arrows, a tiny bow, and a tiny purple bag hanging off one arm. He was wearing a tiny steel armor and a tiny blue Trojan Hat. He had two tiny friends behind him, who were wearing the same steel armor, wore a red Trojan Hat, and had all the supplies he had except the violin. Behind them there were eight dinosaurs with no bags, violin, or Trojan Hat, only the bows and arrows. Bella thought a good name for them would be ‘The Army of Tiny Butterfly-Dinosaurs.’”

Presently, my 10 year old is preoccupied with formatting the 12000 word novel for publishing. And the kid is already thinking about ways to make money from this labor of love.

“Will you sell my book on AsianParent.com?” 10 year old asked.

“Can’t. Your book is in English.” me

“Translate it then! I saw you have bilingual books.” 10-year-old.

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“WHAT?! YOU snowboard?!”

When a friend found out that I went snowboarding over Christmas holiday, she immediately engaged in shocking disbelief.

“Do you REALLY?” friend.

“Yes. I do. I can go all day on Blue runs without falling down. Black runs are too steep for me. I don’t like Green runs, because too many beginners there, and sometimes they like to crash into me.” I dryly stated.

“Wow. I just can’t picture you snowboarding…” friend.

This is true. My friend’s limited imagination can only seem to cast me wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants doing a sport appropriate for Asians. This is the same gal that kept recruiting me to go play badminton with her. I kept informing her that I don’t play badminton, and have never owned any badminton equipment.

“YOU snowboard!…hmmmm” friend.

Seeing how she was still struggling with picturing me doing a cool sport, I developed a soft spot for her, and decided to let her in on the truth about me and snowboarding.

“Okay. This might make it easier on you. When I snowboard, I don’t look cool like the rest of them.” I volunteered.

“What do you mean?” she asked calmly. Finally, she took a break from her own drama.

“I have this pillow, about half the size of a regular pillow, that I stuff into my ski pants to pad my butt when I board.” me.

“……..” she had a blank look on her face. So, I continued….

“I wear a butt pillow on the slopes. To protect my tail bone! In case I fall.”I exclaimed. Then added, “I look like I have a HUGE butt.”

“So, you snowboard with a big butt?!” friend.

“Aha, ha, ha….” the image of me with an unnaturally protruding butt finally made it into her head.

“Hey! Big butts are sexy! Some men like big butts you know.” me.

“HHAAA…..HA, HA, HA….” friend.

WITCH!

When I got home later that day, I had this urgent motivation to go online and find professional padded snowboarding pants. Within minutes, I found and ordered padded pants on xportsprotective.com. It even had a cool name: Crash Pads 2200 Thermal Padded Pants.

I was really excited when my Crash Pads 2200 arrived a few days later. I immediately took it out of the box, and wiggled my way in.

I chuckled as I observed myself in my new armor in front of the mirror. The Crash Pads 2200 protects more than just the tail bone that my make-shift butt pillow once did. It features generous sized padding for hips, quads, knees, buttocks, and then the tail bone. My legs looked like they belonged to a professional athlete, who was perhaps abusing steroids.

Crash Pads 2200 Thermal Padded Pants


Well, maybe no one will notice once I hide my padded pants under my ski pants. I just hope the extra padding won’t hinder my movement and deliberately make me fall.

Later that night, my husband came home.

“My padded pants arrived today!” I announced.

“Cool, put it on. Let me see.” hubby.

“It is wet, I washed it earlier.” Of course, the Crash Pads 2200 required hand wash and line dry.

“That’s too bad. I was hoping you would model it for me.” hubby.

“Trust me. It is not a sexy look.” shaking my head.

“He, he.” he laughed knowingly.

Images of me on the slopes have never been sexy for this poor man.

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I was excited when I saw an article titled: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” featured on the Wall Street Journal’s website. I am a Chinese mother, and I would like to know why I am superior. To my dismay, the author’s idea of a superior mom sported a murderous appetite for terrorizing her children’s childhood. To make matter worse, the author took it upon herself to represent the rest of us Chinese mothers with her parenting style that she self proclaimed to be “superior.”

Asian mothers as a whole deserve some of our stereotypical reputation as parents. Yes, we do care about our children’s academic success a great deal. In practice, I don’t know any Chinese parents who subjected their children remotely close to the same rigorous regime subscribed to by the author–and I know a lot of ambitious Chinese mothers.

Superior parenting does not demand that our children achieve honors and awards to help us feel good about ourselves. Superior parenting is about love and selflessness. It’s a willingness to make huge sacrifices to ensure that our children can live better lives than the lives we had. Many Chinese parents are willing to make that sacrifice, making them truly deserving of “superior.”

I spent my early years in China, where my mother was a high school math teacher, a highly respected profession. And my father was a civil Engineer, having graduated from Tsinghua University, the equivalent of Harvard in China. Unfortunately, my parents failed to pass along their smart genes onto me. I was a happy, but dim-witted child. I wasn’t a bad student, just a solid “B” student throughout my grade-school academic career. This meant that I wasn’t going to get into the best junior high school in our city, and therefore I wasn’t going to get into the best high school, and I had no chance of going to college. At a tender age, my parents already saw that I was doomed to a life of blue collar abyss in China.

In the early 1980’s my parents moved the whole family to America. They were already both in their mid 40’s, and did not speak English. They quickly settled into blue-collar jobs themselves so that I and my sister could have the opportunity to go to universities in America.

My mother’s first job was working as a seamstress in a clothing factory in downtown Los Angeles. Except she wasn’t even a real seamstress, she wasn’t skilled in such work–she had been a math teacher. Her job was to use a pair of scissors, stand in rows and rows of freshly made clothes, and find and cut off any lingering threads the seamstresses left hanging at the end of their stitches.

My father found work at a skanky motel in a scary part of town in L.A. My father was a hardworking man, he didn’t just sit behind the supposedly bullet proof window to collect money from their motel guests, he also fixed anything that was broken at the motel, which was often. My father was handy and resourceful. In a matter of couple of years, the motel boss made my father a partner in the motel business, and in a matter of couple of years more, my father became a partner in three motels. Both of my parents worked in the motel business by then, and our financial situation improved. But I noted that their way of making a buck was very hard.

Their motels were frequented by druggies, prostitutes, and unfriendly policeman. One of the motel’s outside walls was painted with graffiti every night, and everyday, first thing in the morning, my father took a bucket of paint to paint over the graffiti. My parents had suffered a number of armed robberies and one dangerous episode of physical assault at their business over the years. But their shabby motel business provided for both me and my sister to graduate from University of California schools debt free in four years.

As I reflected back on my own parents, I wondered if the author of “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” would even consider giving up her awesome career if her children needed her help, given that her idea of a “superior” mother seemed completely self serving. The author felt entitled to deny her children their precious childhood in order to mold her children into the prodigies that she desired, because of the antiquated Chinese belief that the children owe the parents their life. Sure, I know two or three Chinese mothers in real life who share the notion that their children owe them their lives, and these mothers are all currently serving as some sorry souls’ much detested, evil mother-in-law!

I was never made to feel that I owe my parents my life, and I still don’t. Instead, they made me feel that I have been entitled to their sacrifices because I am their child. I am incredibly grateful to my parents, because I have the genuine superior Chinese parents, whose parental love is selfless.

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I was cleaning out my wallet this morning, thinning the load by tossing out all the expired membership cards and coupons etc. I came across my gym membership card, and it made me feel terribly guilty.

Club One Gym Membership Card


This membership card is brand new. I purchased it on November 30th, but I have not been to the gym once to workout. Not even once! I can’t decide if I feel more guilt over being lazy or being wasteful.

“I will just adopt an exercise routine as my New Year resolution!” I comforted myself out loud.

Lucky I caught myself, and quickly dismissed the idea. I recalled that I am not good at New Year’s resolutions. I gave up on making New Year’s resolutions a few years back, when I realized then that my New Year resolutions hadn’t made it past January.

It is best not to doom my brand-new gym membership completely with my New Year’s resolution jinx…especially since I signed a one-year membership.

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