(Please forgive the "first-world problems" feel of this post.)
As my children have gotten older (they are now almost 10 and just a touch over 12), I have noticed a disturbing pattern that I may have been unaware in the past: specialization.
My daughter's into soccer. She plays in a youth sports group and they practice for about 1 hour once a week, play once a week and the season is only about 2 1/2 months long at a time. She plays probably 2-3 "seasons" a year. Though she is 12, most of the girls on her team are 10 and 11. They "play up". Playing up is based on the theory that if you raise the level of competition they will play to meet that challenge (or something like that).
Many of the girls on her team will probably leave in the next season or two to move into "club" soccer. Club soccer here is more . . . specialized. This is when teams practice 3-4 times a week for an hour or an hour and a half each practice and will play 2-3 games a weekend. They will also travel to surrounding areas (and in Texas that could mean 3+ hours of driving) and play in tournaments that go on for entire weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).
My son was participating in Tae Kwon Do and in tennis. A few months ago, he had to make a very difficult choice: he had to choose. He is 10 years old and he was being forced into specializing. As a 10 year old he would do tennis 2 times a week and then TKD 2 times a week and depending on visitation weekends, TKD sparring on Fridaysa and TKD tournament team on Saturdays or a tennis tournament. Tennis was 2 private lessons a week plus 'clinic' for a total of about 7 hours of tennis a week. This wasn't enough . . . his new schedule is tennis 4 days a week (about 10-12 hours a week) and an average of 2 tournaments a month (tournaments begin on Fridays and end on Sundays if you're playing well).
I look around and I see it amongst many of our friends: a 12 year old who plays club volleyball - tournaments are all weekend long and consist of many games per day, a 14 year old who is now home schooled so she can pratice tennis 8+ hours a day, and a 17 year old who has been taking tennis lessons for 12 years.
And this is just the sports side. I know children who practice piano 15-20 hours a week, a neighbor's child plays drums for school, church and 2 bands (he's 16) and on and on and on...
In all of these cases (and from personal experience) I have been told that kids HAVE to specialize if they want to remain competitive. Competitive for school, college, scholarships, professionally.
As parents we want what's best for our children.
We want opportunities for them that we didn't have.
I haven't read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom. Just the excerpt in the Wall Street Journal. But I got to thinking, what kind of parents did I have? My mom was pretty much out of the picture, so what kind of dad did I have? He certainly was not a Tiger Father.
My dad did not sit with me and drill me on math. He did not make me practice the piano or the violin. I never had to learn tennis. I don't think he even owns a tennis racket. He never asked me if I did my homework, or even if I had homework. I had no curfew. I consistently came home well past midnight on Fridays. I never had any lessons. I could do whatever I wanted to on the weekends. I watched TV, Korean dramas, and played video games. I was in the school musical.
Today was TEST DAY in Korea. Yikes. I first suspected something yesterday. There was an unusual amount of people out and about. And an even more noticeable amount of ambulances screeching through the streets. Something was up. The American me just didn't know what.
Luckily, my mom was around to enlighten me. She told me that today was Test Day. Well, she told me this yesterday so she actually said "Tomorrow is THE Korea Test Day." and she look at me. And I looked at her. And I had no idea what she meant. Did it mean they were going to have a nuclear test? Did it mean we were all going to be tested on something as one mass? This was getting interesting.
Summer vacation is upon us, and I'm sure a lot of you Kimchi Mamas
out there are looking for summer book selections for your little ones!
Luckily, I happen to be high school buddies withDr. Sarah Park, who recently sent me a
link to an online bibliography specializing in APA and AIAN literature.
It is calledTalk Storyand it seeks to help families foster a home environment
based on literacy and cultural awareness. Be still my beating heart!
The book lists are meticulously curated and span a wide variety of
cultures, subjects, and literacy levels. I started drooling while
perusing through theKorean and Korean American list, but
honestly, all the other cultures' selections are equally as enticing.
Talk Story: Sharing stories, sharing culture is a literacy
program that reaches out to Asian Pacific American (APA) and American
Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) children and their families. The program celebrates
and explores their stories through books, oral traditions, and art to provide
an interactive, enriching experience. Children and their families can
connect to rich cultural activities through Talk Story in
their homes, libraries, and communities. We welcome all ethnicities to
customize Talk Story as needed for your community
family literacy needs.
Sarah Park is an Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her
research interests include representations of the Korean diaspora in children’s
and young adult literature, youth services librarianship, social justice,
transracial adoption, and Korean diasporic history
I recently received an email from my friend Saebom, who is a Korean adoptee doing a research study on the experiences of Korean adoptees. This is such an under-studied topic, and I think it's so important that Korea adoptees are starting this research. Please help out if you can, and feel free to pass this information along!
- eliaday, who wants to help out a friend
We need your help if you are a Korean adoptee who is:
* Currently 20 years or older * Went to Korea at age 20 or older * Went to Korea and RETURNED to pre-Korea life
Some of these questions might seem personal, but the more open and
honest you can be the more helpful your responses will be for other
adoptees. Please know that your responses are generated anonymously.
Feel free to post this message on your own blog or copy, paste
and email it to anyone who might be interested in
participating. Or simply email us at 2curiouskads [at] gmail com, with
a list of emails, and we'll be happy to send out the information.
Here’s some info on us. We are Korean adoptees, 32
and 35 years old, who've been Korea 2-3 times. After we returned from
Korea last year we felt isolated. Displaced. Confused. Unable to ease
back into our pre-Korea lives. We wondered if other adoptees felt the
same way. More importantly, if they didn't, what had they done to
prevent these feelings from manifesting? What sort of foundations,
behaviors, life circumstances did they have in place that enabled them
to feel rooted and connected when they returned? And how could this
information offer support to other adoptees?
This is where you come in. If we get enough responses we will
develop the results into a presentation for the IKAA Gathering in Seoul
this summer so that your responses will help others just like you.
Much appreciation, Rae Anne and Saebom 2curiouskads [at] gmail com