Friday, June 2, 2017

Countless clichés 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.