Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dusting This Off

I guess it's been awhile - a little less than two years since my last post and I figured it would be good time to share my thoughts before the oldest child gets a year older.

Parenting is weird. Even after nearly 9 years of being a father, the very thought that I am an actual dad creeps me out. I have not one, but two people who actually look up to me and seek guidance and safety and wisdom from me.

The same guy that once did a full blown WWF style wrestling match for a talent show. The same person who had the worst stomach ache in the world because he thought it would be a good idea to eat a family size box of microwaved salisbury steaks. Yet these two girls will cuddle up with me when a crazy storm runs through or if they ask why the sky is blue.

I am responsible for their growth and well being. I have a lifelong commitment as a result of the best 4 minutes of my wife's night on some random weeknight. It's weird to think that one day you start becoming less immature and you're perusing the clearance aisle at Target for a nice pair of everyday khakis.

Today the Monster is one year from double digits. And having an extreme amount of parental bias, she really is the best kid. The youngest has some potential but the jury is still out on her. The Monster is challenging - she challenges us with random questions, thoughts, and perspective. She challenges herself to accomplish something new. She's absolutely headstrong - which is a trait neither of her parents' possess. There are times that I feel that I am holding her back - not intentionally, just out of sheer apathy and laziness. The first example that comes to mind is riding a bike. We delayed getting the Monster on two wheels and it's just because it's a chore to deal with her frustration. But just last week, over a span of two beautiful days, the Monster taught herself to ride a bike.

We offered guidance but she would refuse our help to hold the seat as she pedaled. And after every fall and scrape and wobbly journey to the pavement, she would pick herself up, yawp her frustration and get right back on it.

Her relationship with her sibling is similar to any other family I think. They fight one minute and are best friends the next. It's an endless loop of figuring out ways to push each other's buttons and then deflect blame when appropriate. Despite these fights, the Monster is a protective big sis. She'll keep an eye on her sister whenever they are together at our gym's daycare - to the point when the youngest said she'd rather play by herself. The Monster will begrudgingly tuck her sister in the middle of the night, or slice her strawberries.

Happy birthday to my favorite first born.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Countless clich├ęs come to mind when it comes to marriage.
  • "It's hard work."
  • "Marriage isn't easy."
  • "Marriage takes work."
Most of it's true. But I've found that marriage itself is easy. Being married makes life easier. Everything is split down the middle. Responsibilities, chores, blame, and success. Or maybe just being married to my wife makes my life easier.

We always joke about where we would be if we weren't married to each other. I imagine the Wifey living in some cute house near her work - but the inside littered with dirty clothes and unread magazines and every single cabinet door open along with every single light turned on. There would be half empty Diet Dr Peppers scattered throughout. Her pantry would be stocked with Nutella and bread and ice cream. Lots of ice cream. A mangled bottle of toothpaste in the center of a double vanity - one sick filled to the brim with makeup and stuff. And in the middle of it all, she'd be happy as a clam, shelling out 30 bucks a week for Candy Crush items.

My sky-rise apartment would be spotless, minus the pee around the toilet, but otherwise pretty clean and tidy. It would be simple and undecorated. Maybe a reclining chair and a television. Fridge would be well stocked, maybe even overstocked, and it would smell like Vietnamese food. And despite the appearance of orderliness, I would be unhappy.

I realized that my life needs some sort of chaos to function. And despite how crazy as it sounds, my wife just brings enough chaos to stabilize my life. And I know I bring the same type of chaos to her life, whether she likes it or not. Marriage is only hard if you make it hard. For the longest time (and still do at times) feel that success in marriage is about wins and losses. Winning arguments, winning fights, losing battles. But it's about respect - talking and listening to the things that make your ears bleed. All the things I hate doing. Because at the end of the day, marriage is about partnership. It's about splitting everything down the middle. It's about appreciating the chaos that comes with the stability.

Happy 10 years of marriage Wifey.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spelling Bee Blues

Our oldest was recently selected to compete in her school's spelling bee. She barely studied for the "qualifying" competition, just casually reading the words every so often. We pushed her to study a little harder, so she opted to make flash cards. And the next day we received pictures of her proudly wearing her medal around her neck at school.

Fast forward a month later (and after their holiday break) she barely studied. We even temporarily lost the sheet with the words she needed to know. The whole night before the spelling bee she kept telling us that she didn't care if she didn't win. Mostly because she was competing with 2nd and 3rd graders.

We tried to build her confidence up but not too much jus kt so she could bring in a level of competitiveness. But her attitude just seemed like she was just happy to be there with her best friend.

Every kid was dressed up in their Sunday's finest and the Monster comes rolling in wearing jeans and a Minecraft tshirt. And she didn't care one bit. The spelling bee moved quickly before the degree of difficulty picked. The Monster would casually walk up to the microphone with a smirk on her face. She held her hands behind her back and swayed back and forth, poorly concealing her nervousness.

I've only competed in the spelling bee so I never got to experience the crowd. There is a thousand times more anxiety in the crowd then with the competitors. I watched as parents mouthed the spelling of the words as their children stood up at the microphone. And with every misspelled word, came a flood of tears. There was even an official review (backed up by camera phone footage) of a child spelling their word correctly.

The Monster was eliminated on the word 'hitched' - which is a really easy word. She just didn't hear the announcer clearly - it's my fault for not going over her options. She walked off stage with a smile on her face but she was visibly upset. Despite all her pleas that she didn't think she would win and already accepting her fate - she was disappointed because she was eliminated on a word she knew how to spell but didn't know her rules.She spent the rest of the competition exclaiming at all the words she knew how to spell.

She whispered to her mother, "next year, I need to study more." I am glad she is already preparing herself. We ended up getting a celebratory dinner at her favorite restaurant - I know, we shouldn't reward for failure but she was a good sport. Some kids had to be carried out off the stage because they were so upset they can't spell.

Here's to next year and studying just a little bit more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Little Patience Goes A Long Way

I guess it's been awhile.

My entire life as a father has consisted of two philosophies: keep my children safe and teach them everything I can. I've done a fairly good job of keeping them safe; minor exception of my youngest being attacked by a swarm of hornets or when she fell off the couch and busted her head on the fireplace - which the panicked phone call to the Wifey consisted of  "Blood. So much blood," followed by silence.

The teaching part I am still learning. There are a lot of things that I have to defer to the internet and the powers of YouTube. There are also a lot of things that I defer to their mother. Mostly because she is better at explaining things and she exudes more patience.

In my 6 years of being a dad, being patient is something I always tell my daughters to do. They need things done immediately or they want to do something at this very moment and I will always respond with a sharp "just wait!" But patience is something that instead of teaching my daughters, I should ultimately learn from them.

I should learn from my oldest daughter as she takes her time reading each and every word, ingraining the spelling into her brain. I should watch her eyes and finger trace the outline of each letter, memorizing which way the belly sticks out on the letter b or d. I need to appreciate the sloth-like reaction when I tell my youngest she needs to get out of bed as she clings onto the sheets a little tighter.

I need to take a step back and appreciate everything - I am much too quick to take away their screen time or a treat because I am not instantly gratified. Maybe it's the old Asian in me where I just have such high expectations for them to act normally and appropriately. I fail to recognize that they are acting normally and appropriately: they are just being kids. Kids scream and yell and do crazy things and speak in a weird accent. I guess I haven't realized that in the thick of things, they both just want to do right by me; it just takes them a little longer than I want.

I could learn some patience from my children. It's something I need to exercise with my wife. I am so quick to get angry or be annoyed rather than take the time to appreciate the little things that she has done for myself and for our family. She just wants to do right by me and I just need the patience to appreciate everything.

This 2017 is about taking a step back and realizing it's okay to be a little late. It's ok to be a kid and it's always okay to love a little longer.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Duck Duck Goose and 2015

This past year didn't start off the way we wanted. Asian tradition says that if you don't spend any money on the first day of the new year, you will be very prosperous for the upcoming year.

Well we started off the year by fixing our roof, trimming our trees, and getting a new lawnmower.

But, looking back this year has been the best yet so far. We went to DisneyWorld - although it had it's challenges with the Monster, it was a memorable experience. We also finally have a kid free bed. The girls are in their own room, sleeping through the night, although Pillow is waking up at 5AM to play every day. But the girls are in bed by 8pm every night, which is insane considering the Monster would go to bed whenever she wanted.

School for the Monster has also helped her out in so many ways. The bullying is no longer an issue and I always smile when I see her walk to the car with her friends and they hug each other goodbye, We no longer need to convince her to play with her cousins - as soon as they see each other, we won't see them again until we're ready to leave. She even made friends with some random girl at the park. The two of them played duck duck goose but that quickly ended when they realized the chances of being the goose were 100%.

The Monster has been an amazing sister - willingly (sometimes) to help her sister out, teach her new things, good and bad. Even though the jealousy is starting to come up, she does a great job. Pillow will eat anything and the only time she gets upset is when she's hungry. She loves dancing and climbing and falling off the couch.

This upcoming year we plan on taking a real vacation of just me and the Wifey to Mexico. It'll be the longest we're away from our kids but it would be a much needed vacation.

2016 is going to have a lot new experiences for us and I just hope it's just as 2015.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Practically Clones

When I go through old photos, I can't help but notice how the girls are exact replicas of each other. It's deja vu when I look at Pillow and see her being mischievous  and flash her toothy smile. But besides their looks, they truly are two incredibly different souls.

Since the beginning, the Monster has always slept with her hands acting as her pillow. It's one of the cutest things ever. She still does it. She puts her palms together as if she's praying and then lies her face on her little hands and goes to sleep. Pillow is more of an arm crosser or she'll interlock her fingers. She's also really big on cuddling and has taken a liking to her Daisy doll.

Pillow is also more affectionate. She'll hug you if you're not feeling well and always provides a kiss before she goes to bed. The Monster, not so much.  The Monster keeps it real. You're not feeling well? Take some medicine. Your back hurts? Lie down. Everyone is being too loud and crazy? Ignore it.

But Pillow has zero patience. And she's a screamer about it. The Monster would take things as they come and just chill. If Pillow wants something, she'll scream her head off. All the way home. Even if it's a 45 minute car ride.

The Monster is also a fantastic sleeper. So fantastic that I could literally jump on the bed and she wouldn't budge. Pillow, on the other hand, will sit straight up if I even think about getting up. It's like that mattress commercial where they drop the bowling ball next to the wine, except the exact opposite.

All in all I am really enjoying watching the doppelgangers grow up.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Heartbreak and Everlasting Guilt

The Monster started school a couple of weeks ago and it's been a fairly tough transition...for me. By now, you've heard about her terrible, no good, good for nothing first day of school. Luckily, children are resilient and she wanted to go back to school.

Unfortunately, there seems to be another issue that the Wifey and I figured the Monster would eventually encounter; we just didn't think it would happen in kindergarten: the bully.

Now, we don't know if the Monster is being her typical, dramatic self but it is disconcerting to know that there is some child who was raised to believe that it is okay to say mean things. This bully, who will be simply called, "V", refuses to let her play with certain people. V has also told her that she isn't pretty. I know there are two sides of every story but I don't think it's in the Monster's nature to provoke anyone to tell her she isn't pretty or bar her from any friendships. V has even gotten the Monster in trouble with a teacher by claiming she was the one that pushed a student. V is a manipulative little B. The overprotective father in me just wants to see this V character and then dropkick her in the head.

You damn well better believe that V's parents will be getting the stink-eye if I ever I see them. The Wifey has done a really good job of coaching the Monster on what to do. Basically, she just ignores her. She doesn't give into V's bullying and continues on with her life. And ever since the Monster has learned to do that, we're hearing less and less about V.

But as a parent it's hard to hear the struggles that she goes through with her new school. She comes from a daycare where "Daycare Nana" would prepare a separate lunch than the other kids because the Monster wanted to eat something else. She is spoiled. But she is one of the sweetest girls I've ever met, if she can get past her timidity and shyness.

She told me that one time she went to recess and she couldn't find her friends, so she just went up and down the slide by herself until recess was finished.

In the mornings, I drop her off at school and have to watch her little body trudge to the door, with a backpack that's a little too big, and her hair in her mouth, her telltale sign that she is scared.

We've had to change our schedules around because the Monster despises her after school daycare at the local YMCA. We don't think anything bad has happened or she is being bullied; she seems to have made a lot of friends, she just doesn't like being there. When we asked her why she doesn't like the Y, she simply responded, "because I miss my sister."


Luckily, the Monster still wants to go to school. She's still excited to go everyday. I know things will get better and she won't even remember any of these events but for me and the Wifey, we just have to hope that Pillow fares better.