parent of a ‘tween I found myself at the mall with my daughter the other day.
It was right after school and she was still in her all-girls school uniform.
walked by one of the kiosks, a young man stopped her and asked if she went to
ABC Private School – he recognized the uniform as the uniform of his all-boys
high school alma mater’s sister school. He was indeed correct – except my
daughter is in the sister school’s middle school.
it’s the “Asians don’t look their age” stereotype or maybe it’s because she was
in uniform or maybe because she’s tall for her age but as she said yes and I
gave my best KDS (Korean Death Stare) to this young man and gently guided her
down the hall, I had a mix of remembering the feelings of being mistaken as older at that age and what it may mean for my daughter..and me as her mom.
the faster-than-the-speed-of-light economic growth in China, and young people
flooding in from rural areas to the bustling cities in search of jobs and
opportunities, a saying has developed about this group of new-to-the-city young
women: The software doesn’t match the hardware. Kind of creepy when you think
about it. Here’s a young woman in search of opportunity and she has been
reduced to an electronic, a cliché, because she’s attractive but
in the United States are guilty of perpetuating some of that concept, too. Look
around: magazine covers, tv shows, music . . . Have you tried shopping for
“cute” girl clothes recently? Listened to the actual lyrics of some popular songs. Next
time you’re at the grocery store take the time to glance over the covers of magazines specifically designed for your teen!
fellow moms and I complain about the lack of appropriate clothing, the
pressures our girls face to wear make-up, shave their legs and have first
dates/first kisses, etc. And because many of these concepts were foreign to my
mother, the "right" way to navigate through them are in many ways foreign to me.
remember the first time you were mistaken as being older than you really were (as a 'tween/teen)?
Angie in Texas is practicing her KDS for all future boys...
this winter we celebrated warmer, spring-like days here in South Texas. There
was so much happiness and hope in our little family – the way spring is
supposed to be. What spring is supposed to mean. But as all South Texans know:
if you don’t like the weather: stick ‘round, it’ll change.
With a fierce, biting wind reminding me it was still winter, my world became
cold and barren.
the definition of a normal, modern, blended, American family. We struggle with
schedules, negotiate the school-work balance, commute to and from
extra-curricular activities, schedule social time among adolescent and adult
friends, cope with extended family matter dramas and move through our daily lives as
a family living alongside two ‘tweens.
had written off as normal ‘tween girl drama I can retroactively see now as
warning signs. Stereotypical signs, too! Tumbling grades (check!), increased
arguments with us, (check!), a new passion for fighting with her brother (check!),
yelling matches and hurling hurtful words (check!), periods of deafening total
hip, consciously-aware, educated, socially active mother (certainly not like
the old-school Korean mother I grew up with!) I knew and understood the stage of growing up she was
going through. She was in the
early stages of adolescent spring! The winter of child childhood fading. I could even empathize with the season of
adolescent spring: the bright sunlight moving from family to friends, chores and
homework to trips to the mall with friends and PG-13 movies in giggly, awkward groups.
here I was am trying to understand. I’ve Googled. I’ve
read. I’ve Tumblred. I've seen and read things that have broken my heart a million times into a million pieces. I’ve gone to see our family therapist. I’ve cried. I’ve begged. I’ve
pleaded. I’ve prayed. I’ve overdosed my daughter with “mommy and me” time(!) not
because I particularly enjoy spending countless hours talking about My Little
Pony, cats and watching Animal Planet, but because I’m too scared to leave her
alone. Too scared what I may find when I come back.
what I know about Koreans and depression; knowing what I know about my Korean
parents, depression and alcoholism; knowing what I know about my own struggles
with depression, alcoholism and addiction I wish I knew more about how to help
I think we are moving through this season of hurt, but then I am reminded of
the very meaning of seasons and that cutting isn’t just a one time thing, a one hundred
time thing, or even a one thousand time thing . . . it’s a lifetime thing.
Before the birth of our first child, our yellow lab Sherlock led the privileged life as the sole heir of a DINK couple. My husband fed him specially ordered never frozen raw meat. We often emerged from pet shops with $20 squeak toys that Sherlock shredded within minutes. During the week, a professional dog walker chauffeured him and a few other lucky hounds to Fort Funston, a dramatic cliffside beach on the west coast of San Francisco, where he pranced as happily as a prima ballerina. During our weekend walks in Noe Valley, we only frequented restaurants that could accommodate all of us, which usually limited us to a cozy French bistro with an illegal patio in the back.
Nothing has brought me closer to death than giving birth.
Before I had my son, I thought about death, but only occasionally, the way I assume most others do. It was there in the abstract, off in the distance, never threatening, never looming. Like a distant cousin, it reminded me of its existence every once in a while, when I happened to pass an accident on the freeway or read a novel with tragic ending, which in turn reminded me to live more purposefully, meaningfully. But apart from its occasional pep talk, it had little to do with me.
Back then, I didn't fear death. If anything, I felt cavalier. So what, I remember saying. What do I have to lose? My life was my own, and I was beholden to no one. If something were to happen to me, a few others may be sad or even devastated, but I didn't own their grief. I was the only one who could potentially suffer, but not really because wouldn't I be dead after all? Just make it quick and don't let me suffer too much, was my canned retort.
Yesterday, my son AJ (3 years old) did something that he does every once in a while. He spilled milk. All over his table. It was his high chair table, and there is a ridge, so none of it spilled out on to the floor or onto him. It was quite a bit though, about 1/3 of a cup?
Normally when the kids have a big spill, I get mad. I yell. I say “WHY DON’T YOU BE MORE CAREFUL?” Of course, it’s not really a question. I know it’s not their fault that they spill (ok, maybe a tiny bit?). That they are just young children and that their motor skills aren’t finely tuned yet. And that even adults spill. But it’s my default reaction… to get angry.
I grew up going to public bathhouses in Korea. We didn't have a room for bathing at home, so about once a week, my mom would take us to the bathhouse and we would pay a couple of bucks per person to use the facilities. (We did have an outhouse type of "room." It was a square cemented closet like room with a deep hole in the ground.) The bathhouse was kind of like a spa inside... except it wasn't a luxurious thing for us to go there but just a necessity. There was a tub full of hot water and cold water. Bunch of showers everywhere. Little short stools (looked like step stools) with a hole in the middle for us to sit on. The hole was so that water wouldn't pool.
We would soak in the hot water and then my mom would use a scrubber that looks like this to scrub us clean. It hurt like hell. Especially when she scrubbed my armpits.
Just the other day, I was taking a bath and was scrubbing myself with the above scrubber (except it was yellow), and I had a thought that I've had many times before. I wondered if White people ever scrub off 때. 때 is a Korean word for dead skin and other dirt that accumulate on your skin that comes off when you scrub your skin very hard after soaking in hot water.
And then I wondered, do White people HAVE 때? I am pretty sure they do because, I mean, most of the dust in a house is actually dead skin cells. Right?
And then I thought, I must blog about this.
I once heard that there are actually tourists who come to Korea to get scrubbed by the ladies who work at a bath house and whose jobs it is to scrub 때 off of people. I remember seeing them in the bath houses that we used to go as a child. We never used them because they cost like ten bucks.
I also vaguely recall some Hollywood Celebrity talking about a Korean spa and how she loved getting scrubbed by the Korean ladies there.
Anyway, this curious mind wants to know... are you White? Do you have 때? Do you scrub it off?
(The romanized pronounciation of 때 would maybe be something like tdae. The sound doesn't really exist in Enligsh, as far as I can tell.)
My husband gives the boys their baths most of the time but I did scrub the older boy once and remember thinking that he was relatively "clean." Or maybe he just hadn't soaked in the water long enough... or the water might have been too lukewarm. I'm gonna try scrubbing them sometime in the near future.
My kids have been out of school since Memorial Day Weekend but most local schools got out some time after. We have LOTS of summer plans: breakfast at 9:30 am, scoops of ice cream at 9 pm, overnight week-long camps for the kids (2 sessions) and mini-vacays for the adults, day camps with specific actvities (tennis, ASPCA, etc.), roller coasters, water parks, reading and math enrichment sessions, open camp fires, amusement parks, the beach (already been once so far), state parks, national parks, s'mores!, slumber parties, birthdays, "spa" days, swimming at the pool, neighborhood block parties, camping, the river(s), reading, visits with Ms. Beth at the library, arts and crafts, lakes, fishing, gardening, movies, at home movies and much, much more.
What are some of your summer plans?
And of course day trips to the parks and area lakes and rivers will include gimbap picnics and galbi bbq!
Angie in Texas LOVES summer! Not so much the Texas heat.