Archive for » October, 2013 «

“Mom! Can you buy one hundred items this year?” the baby asked with an unusual amount of excitement and anticipation.

Eying the familiar Christmas catalog, I shoot back, “Don’t be crazy! I can’t use 100 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.”

Every year around this time, my kids come home from school with their holiday shopping catalogs, and approach me as if I am an ATM for their schools’ fall fund-raising events.

I do participate in these events every year, but I just buy a few items. This year was different. The baby had an all purposeful self-imposed goal of selling 100 items.

“Look!” the baby pointed to the award sheet, “If I can sell 100 items, I will win a portable refrigerator!!”

Fundraising catalog featuring SUPER prizes

“Cool.” 13-year-old, “We WANT a portable refrigerator!!”

The kids have long fantasized about owning a portable refrigerator. They think if they have their own refrigerator, they will be able to declare their independence on me.

“I will take your catalog to my school, and sell it to all my friends.” 13-year-old.

Good riddance! I am tired of buying Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas cookies from their catalog every year. I am happy that they are planning to find new customers.

A week went by, the 13-year-old sold a whopping 6 items. I refused the baby’s request to buy 94 more items.

Since our PTA required one check payment for all the items sold, I wrote the check for the total payment due, and told my 13 year-old to turn in all the cash payments to me.

I was dismayed to receive all the cash in the form of a messy stack of wrinkly one dollar bills, and a plastic bag of heavy quarters. (They also short changed me a dollar and fifty. I wasn’t disappointed. I feared worse.)

Dollar bills and coins payment

When you do business with kids, you get paid with piggy bank money.

The baby won 6 fake mustaches for selling 6 items.

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“So happy! We can have two lunches and two dinners together!! We must eat breakfast on Monday morning before you leave.” Dad.

Dad sounded thrilled as he measured my impending weekend visit with meals. His favorite hobby is eating.

I flew into Burbank airport last weekend. As promised, I was immediately whisked away, and driven to a restaurant in Monterey Park. Monterey Park better resembles a small city in China rather than an American city nested in the greater Los Angeles area.

Dad recruited family to join our lunch. At the table, there sat my 98 year-old grandmother, my parents, my uncle, two aunts, and Will.

Whenever I see my youngest aunt, I see my cousin Will. Whenever I sit down for a meal with Will, there will be roast duck or roast chicken, or both.

Cousin Will is in his early thirties, with a slightly stocky medium stature. He is blessed with a pair of enviable deep dimples, which makes his smiles quite handsome. Will smiles often.

If you sit down to chat with Will, you will first take note of Will’s strange accent, then rightly diagnose Will’s limited mental capacity.

Will was just two years old when he immigrated to America with his parents, along with my family.

Will’s father was a tyrant, and uncommonly foolish. He feared that his 2-year-old son wouldn’t master English with all of us Chinese speakers living under one roof. He forbid my aunt speaking to Will in Chinese, and only spoke to the young boy using English, HIS English. Will’s father spoke horrific English.

Poor Will never recovered from his father’s English. He speaks with a peculiar accent mixed in with odd speech patterns.

Will’s Chinese is even worse. He seems to understand the language, but speaks it with obvious difficulty, in broken and childish sentences. His Chinese accent is as if God had assigned him a Chinese face by mistake.

I am very fond of Will.

I can easily recall Will as a young boy. Our extended family had all lived together when we first arrived in America. He was a bright and happy child, full of energy and mischief.

Will, the smiling little boy looking at the camera. I am holding a baby.

I don’t think Will was born mentally challenged. I held a strong suspicion that Will’s retardation was the fault of his abusive father’s powerful hands.

Some cultures permit physical discipline against a child. But the practice of spanking typically lands on the buttocks. Will’s father’s thick hands landed on the back of his head frequently, with unchecked force.

I never shared this opinion with any of the family elders. The subject of Will’s condition is taboo among the family. No one talks about Will’s inability to meet life’s rudimentary mile stones, or how he be gotten such a limiting existence. The family was silenced then, and persisted in its silence today.

Dishes began to arrive at our lunch table. When big plates of duck and chicken arrived at our table, those who knew better will immediately steer clear of the lazy Susan. Will will spin the lazy Susan with dangerous speed, and stop abruptly to settle the duck or chicken in front of him. He will proceed to grab the pieces of meat with both bare hands, and devour them like a starved caveman.

I have only known Will to eat duck and chicken at Chinese restaurants. When my aunt and I tried to coax him into eating some vegetables, he shook his head violently.

As the meal winded down, the family traded in feverish eating for leisurely paced eating and friendly chats.

Just as we chatted happily, Will pushed a hand up in the air, and announced, “Can we get the check? I am done eating. I want to go home now.”

My father looked at him, and teased, “You want the check?Are you paying?”

Will’s face broke into a big smile, his dimples on full display, and sheepishly shook his head

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Mother’s Day Madness

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I was really mad with a bottle of ice tea!

For the past two days, I attacked at it like a frantic baboon…it refused to open.

I first took it to a local park with me to watch my kids’ volleyball practice. But instead of sipping tea and enjoying the games, I kept twisting at it with all my might, until my fingers were raw and pink. The cursed cap won’t budge. I grew ever more pissed off (and thirsty) during the volleyball practice.

Last night, just when I opened the fridge to start making dinner, I saw that bottle of ice tea sitting there, and wanted to drink it.

Stubborn fool!! (The bottle, not me.) My fingers turned raw and pink again. I shook my hand to ease the pain.

Then I remembered that I have this special lid opener tool.

Lid Opener

My husband had brought it for me about a year ago to compensate for my weak arms. At the time, I had chided him when he presented it to me. “I don’t need this! I know how to open bottles!” I had said defensively to him.

Well, last evening, I searched desperately for it, opening this and that drawer. I found it.

I strapped the belt on the cap, pulled to tighten it, and twisted the handle. Epic fail.

The cap is too small for the tool. The belt couldn’t fit around the cap tight enough to do the job.

Aaahhh… I stomped my foot and punched the air around my kitchen.

My unsympathetic 10-year-old giggled from the family room, and said, “You still can’t open it, huh.”

Then my 13-year-old just walked into the kitchen to raid the fridge. She took note of the two of us, and said, “What’s happening?”

“She still can’t open that bottle! It has been two days.” 10-year-old laughing.

The 13-year-old closed the fridge door, took the bottle, twisted it OPEN, put it down, said, “Here you go.”

10-year-old exploded into an obnoxious laughter. But I wasn’t laughing. I was in a state of shock.


How did this happen? I was the one who always twisted the bottles open for them.

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