Tag Archive | parenting

“The Talk”

“They” say that you need to have “The Talk” with your children at around the age of ten these days!

Um… Eeeeeeek!

I’m pretty sure that I never had anyone give me “The Talk.” My “Talk” consisted of “Don’t do it. Until you’re married. Ever.” And that was is. What I learned about sex as an adolescent was anything that could be read in a Jackie Collins novel or learned in health class . It just wasn’t a topic that was talked about which seems to be the general consensus of most people around my age.

But as my oldest has reached that milestone of double digits, my husband and I are basically playing “rock, scissors, paper” to see who gets to have that conversation. I think he should have it because he’s the man and has the same “equipment” as my son, and he thinks I should have it because… let’s be honest, I’ll handle it better. Truthfully, neither of us want to have it and as two intelligent adults are being pretty squeamish about it. I’m not sure if it’s our own fear, awkwardness, or embarrassment or if it’s just that we want our son to remain young, sweet, and innocent forever. (I’m going with the first one)

We do know that the moment we walk through that door, there’s no turning back. Once he knows about where babies really come from, he’ll never see the world (or us) the same ever again. He may even be horrified at the mere thought of it, which would be quite fine with me.

What I really want to tell him that he’s entirely too young to think about anything other than baseball, Play Station, and sports, and then I don’t want to tell him anything else about it. I still want him to think that girls are “disgusting and stupid” and I want him to wrinkle his nose in disgust when we ask him if he likes any of the girls in school. Quite frankly, I’m not ready for him to grow up and  I don’t want to worry about those things yet.

I know that I don’t JUST want to talk to him about the sex part. I want to talk to him about love and that’s it not simply about touching a girl because he can. I want to tell him that his body is going to do weird stuff in the next couple of years, but “not to worry” and that it’s just part of growing up. Having “The Talk” means that sooner than later, I’ll have to worry about sexting, and porn, and inappropriate behavior. I’ll also have to worry about hormones, moodiness, and his sweet little voice getting deeper. I know  I’ll have to be diligent in identifying skanky little girls who want to move too fast, and be prepared to terrorize them when necessary, which I’ve been dreaming about ever since my boys were born (insert evil laugh here).

Even though it’s right around the corner I’m not ready for acne, and attitude, and being questioned about my level of intelligence by the child that I created in my own body. I’m just not ready and I’m so frustrated about it because ten years has just gone entirely too fast! It snuck up on me and I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon.

Dang it!

I can’t consider having this conversation with him until I accept that he’s growing up, and have I already said that I’m just not ready? Does it sound like I’m throwing a temper tantrum? Because I am! I’m too emotionally attached and even though I still have another eight years to go until high school graduation. I’m so disturbed that we are well past the midway point with him and that the youngest son is following closely behind.

I feel as though by the time I truly get to know them and understand them, they’ll be off to college starting a whole new world, becoming something else entirely. Then the person I’ve been for the past ten years is going to be hopelessly lost and yes, I’m already lamenting about having Empty Nest Syndrome with nearly a decade left. But look at how rapidly this decade has flown by!

I know… I know… I’m making having “The Talk” all about me when it’s clearly not, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s really about preparing my kiddo for the next phase in his life and it’s not his fault that his mom is a wimp.

What everything boils down to, is, that I’m just not ready to have “the talk” even though I’ve been giving myself pep talks for months. I thought I would be ready by the end of the summer and that I could do it before school starts, but school starts in two weeks and I haven’t worked up enough courage yet, but I’m working on it.

Being a parent means that you have to be brave… so I’m going to stop whining, pull up my big girl pants, and look for opportunities to start teaching my kiddos about the things that make me incredibly uncomfortable. Chances are, we’ll all be uncomfortable, but at least I’ll have done my job and hopefully my child will be benefit. He’s ten for goodness sake and just told us that he only weighs fifteen pounds when he’s sitting on the toilet, because little boys do silly things like that. He doesn’t take himself too seriously yet so neither will I. I’ll explain things to him like he’s ten and not twenty, and let him know that we’re here for questions and concerns. So hopefully when he starts morphing and his body becomes one big uncontrollable hormone, at least he’ll know that the lines of communication are open.

And by then, hopefully I’ll be over my tantrum and well over myself so I can be the adult parent that I’m supposed to be guiding my children and preparing them to understand themselves and make good decisions about their sexuality and their lives, no matter how freaked out it makes me.  For now I’ll just relax, and try to figure out how a ten year-old will understand  “the Birds & the Bees.”

I probably just need to have faith that I’ve done a pretty good job of explaining life to them this far and I’ll probably do this part just fine too. ūüėČ

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Racism-Black and White And A Little Yellow

A local news reporter said an incredibly stupid thing today on the morning broadcast, and in reading the tweets and Facebook posts, you would think she was the biggest racist on the planet. There are comments calling for her immediate termination, referring to her as a racist (or worse), and maligning her character. Maybe she is a racist, but it’s highly doubtful because by all accounts, she and her family are very good people who are not racist in any way. ¬†Although her comment was extremely ignorant, it doesn’t appear to be malicious or intentional, yet many tweet that it doesn’t matter.

I know I may draw some negative backlash for even saying that, but this called is called “Inside Jen’s Mind” so I’ll say what I think. And what I think is that racism is a funny thing, something we are always looking for in everything. It’s not funny-haha, but funny-strange, because it’s often¬†assumed but not always true, though it is always¬†divisive.

First let me tell you a bit about me. I was adopted from Korea when I was around the age of two. Abandoned by my own parents, I was adopted by a Caucasian couple who couldn’t have children of their own, neither of them having a racist bone in their body. My dad taught me that racism was stupid and that people of every race could be jerks, and he was right. I remember when I would come home after someone made fun of my race and instead of getting upset, Dad would say “They make fun of you because you can take it. If they’re picking on you, then they’re leaving someone else alone.” So I made that my mantra, knowing that I was strong enough to take it, even though I was a small little girl with slanted eyes and olive skin who didn’t look like anyone else I knew.

I went to school in an era when they were integrating the schools to ensure there was diversity. It didn’t matter much to me, because I had probably met two people in my entire lifetime that even slightly resembled me. So instead of going to school five minutes from my house to go to school with kids that didn’t look like me, I was bussed thirty minutes from my house to go to school with kids who didn’t look like me. Diversity didn’t mean much to me at that time. I was as diverse as it got, neither black, white, or hispanic and there were many times when I was out-of-place and felt very alone. I would love to tell you that all of my experiences were positive ones, but they just weren’t.

People were ugly, adults and children alike. A relative who I never really knew asked my mom if I was going to have surgery to ‘have my eyes fixed,’ and most of the time people just assumed I was “Chinese.” Often-times kids would make strange ignorant noises that were supposed to resemble Asian people speaking, and the questions like “What are you?” were asked often, even into adulthood. When I was little, I used to feel my eyes beginning to slant even more when faced with those situations, unable to hide the fact that I just didn’t look like everyone else. Today they call that “bullying” but back then it was just “kids being mean” and I knew I would have to face it all of my life because there was no surgery to made my eyes ‘less slanted.’

Looking back, I think Dad saw something in me that I had yet to see in myself, because I was strong enough to take it, and I did. Aside from elementary school, those events rarely drove me to tears, and most kids chose to pick on the girl with the lisp and the unibrow instead of the girl with the slanted eyes. As I grew older, kids weren’t as mean to me, and by that time I had made enough friends that I was usually left alone.

When I was growing up my family was white, my friends were a mixture of black, white, hispanic, Asian, and my best friend from seventh grade through high school was black. My race wasn’t important and it didn’t make me special, better, or worse, than anyone else. Nobody cared that I was Korean and I found myself finally fitting in and finding my place in the world.

But the world is very different now in countless ways. It’s more hypocritical and full of hatred which I think makes it difficult for us to look beyond our outward appearance, because our differences are constantly being highlighted in the media. The social climate is uptight and unforgiving, and nobody seems to be able to laugh at themselves and we are obligated to be offended by everything that happens in the world. We assume everything is meant to be offensive, so we oblige.¬†I realized the world was changing when it became taboo to call an Asian person ‘Oriental’ or when the term “politically correct” became gospel, rather than policy. ¬†Instead of coming together, we push apart, expecting and waiting to be pissed off about something… anything.

So says the Asian girl.

The scars of being teased and made fun of because I was different, certainly run deep. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have someone say horrible and ugly things to you just because of how you look, unless it’s actually happened to you. As a child and even as an adult, I’ve had people of all shapes, sizes, color, race, and nationality call me names, make ignorant comments, make gestures, assumptions, and even make their eyes slanted so they would look like me. But I call that ignorance and stupidity, and I refuse to let it change my heart or make me a prisoner. If you know me, you know that I’m not above telling someone to “screw off” if the situation calls for it, and I believe racism is one of those situations that certainly calls for it.

My youngest child came home from school after being “bullied” by another child, larger and older than him. My youngest, is my mini-me and not only looks identical to me when I was younger, but is just as stubborn and just as apt stand up for himself. What really broke my heart about the situation is that the other child jumped right to calling him a “little Chinese boy” as a way to put him down and told him to “Go back to China where he came from.” It brought back flashbacks from my childhood, but it also made me incredibly angry not just because my youngest is my baby, but because this other child obviously doesn’t know my son at all. My son is laugh-out-loud funny, irreverent, inappropriate, and incredibly charming. He’s the boy who will break the girls hearts because he won’t be tied down. He loves to play games, technology, and electronics of every kind, and did I mention that he’s funny as Hell? But this other boy just saw him as that “little Chinese boy” and I thought how sad it is that the world hasn’t really changed, after all.

Instead, we live in a world where not only are we still incredibly ignorant and say stupid, stupid things. Do I think that little boy is a racist? Absolutely not. I do¬†think he’s ignorant, and while I hope his parents set him straight, I’m also realistic and understand that he may get that from home. Yet, I’m not offended by the situation and we’ve talked about it with my son because I’m sure it’s not the last time he’ll ever hear something like that again. I’m not teaching him to be tolerant of ignorant behavior, but hopefully he’ll learn to just see things and people for what they are. Hopefully it will motivate him to be his best, regardless of the stupidity that may surround him.

I’m not naive and I know racism exists and is alive and well and toxic in our world. But I don’t believe that we live in a world where¬†everything and¬†everyone¬†is racially motivated.¬†I do believe we live in a world full of moronic, stupid, ignorant, idiots who say the most ridiculous things and I think it is important to differentiate between the two.

We are living in a world that lacks levity because we are entirely too sensitive, and all that ends up doing is dividing us and breeding contempt, and more hatred. As a society, we are always looking for a scapegoat, an answer to our problems but the easy answer isn’t always the right one. We need to stop and learn to see things for what they are. Racism isn’t always so obvious, isn’t always so black and white, and ¬†in simplified terms I think Webster’s still gets it right.

Racism-Webster’s dictionary

noun
1.
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Rodney King~”Can we all just get along?” ¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sONfxPCTU0

The Beatles~All You Need is Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydfH7iuLR0I

Marvin Gaye~What’s Going On¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydfH7iuLR0I

We’re Growing Up

I wondered when it would finally happen and I realize, it’s happening now.

My children are no longer “babies.”

They are growing into young men right before my very eyes which gives me such¬†mixed emotions. While part of me is happy to see them¬†thrive and grow, the other part mourns the loss of the babies I once held in my arms. I can’t believe how quickly the years have already gone, and I anticipate the ones to come will pass with equal swiftness. I¬†am not even remotely¬†ready to be the mother of teenagers, or to have them shun me with the contempt most¬†boys of that age feel for their parents. I’m not ready¬†for them to¬†believe¬†they have surpassed intellectually and in their knowledge of the world. I’m not prepared¬†for them to begin blaming me for my shortcomings as a parent or resenting me for doing too much of one thing, or not enough of another.

I already find that I miss the complete and utter adoration and admiration when in their eyes, I was perfect, amazing, and could do nothing wrong.

I realize the window on my motherly perfection is beginning to close and there is nothing I can do to keep it open. My boys are becoming more savvy in the ways of the world as it becomes bigger for them, day by day. I am happy and excited for their new experiences, but at the same time, I am fearful. Perhaps, less for them and more for myself.

Being a parent was easier when I could hold them in my arms when they cried and their tears would simply disappear simply¬†because I was near them. It was comforting to me when I could soothe their little pains or problems with kisses and hugs, or words of wisdom they would listen¬†to with big eyes and open ears. But as they get older and their problems get bigger I realize their ears won’t always be as open, their problems will get much larger, and I will no longer appear to be as¬†smart as I was when they were two. It’s great for your ego when you have two little people who hang on your every word and think that everything you say is the most important thing in the world. The narcissist in me will definitely miss that!

It makes me sad to anticipate the changes that are before me as a mother and them as brothers. I liked¬†when my kids thought I was¬†fun, smart, and cool. They still feel that way, but I can see the veil slowly starting to lift until I am revealed to be “just mom.” While being a mom to young children is exhausting, it is also incredibly wonderful for your ego. After all, is there ever another time in your life when you are ever so incredibly loved and adored as when your children are young? Sadly,¬†I also see the slow but sure separation between brothers as they find their own friends and interests, and the loss of closeness saddens me. We’ve raised them to look out for one another and I hope they will always find their way back to one another as first friends and as brothers.¬†As the next phase of motherhood is barreling upon me, I find that I am full of trepidation. Will I know what to do? Will I be able to help them with their bigger problems? Will I be as effective and patient? What do I know about ‘boy’ problems? Will they care what I have to say? Will I still be able to guide them into adulthood to be good men?

I know I¬†can’t stop them from growing up and I am excited for this next phase of their lives. The independence and confidence that shines within them is amazing and incredible, and I am proud of all of us for getting them to this point. I look at them and am in awe that a decade ago, they weren’t on the planet, and now here they are bringing happiness to my life every day. While I have such hopes and dreams for them, I can’t wait to find out what theirs will be and how to help them get there.

I’m growing up with them and¬†I can’t wait to continue growing old with them.

 

 

The Will to Win

I’ve become something I never imagined I would be… a Baseball Mom.

And I love it.

I love going to the baseball fields and watching the dirt fly from little cleats on a hot summer day. There is something magical that happens when you hear the crack of the bat or the smack of the ball in a mitt. And it’s a thing of sheer beauty when you watch your son slide with everything he has into Home Plate, and you see the smile on his face that refuses to go away. If you’re lucky, you get to go to every game with parents who love getting to be there just as much as you do. You become an unspoken community, cheering on each other’s kids with just as much heart, as you celebrate the wins and lament the losses. I’ve loved watching my boys grow as athletes.

To one of my boys it just comes naturally, to the other he has to work at it, each approaching their sport from very different perspectives.

The one who is natural is an emotional thinker, who approaches his game with passion and heart. His love for the game is deep, often compelling him to practice just for fun, without anyone telling him. The other child, approaches every at bat with a huge smile on his face, fearing nothing. He tells anyone who will listen that he is going to be baseball player when he grows up. He doesn’t realize that he is one now. When his bat connects with the ball, he runs the bases with such contagious joy that his fans smile with him as he takes his base with pride.

I love watching my boys grow in their skill as well as the way they connect with their teammates. I adore their love of the game, and now I also love the game, even when they’re not in it.

We’ve been fortunate to have wonderful families who parent the boys, on our teams, as well as the coaches (including my husband) who have led them with fairness, kindness and toughness. The reality of it is, that isn’t always the case in any kid’s sport. We hear it, we witness it, and we experience it as we send out boys into the world to compete against others who are far less fair or kind.

My oldest plays travel ball with a great group of kids in a competitive and selective league, which he had to try out for. During one of our most recent games, our kids were getting killed by a bigger and far more aggressive team. Despite our struggling performance, our kids did pull out moments of brilliance, which our parents loudly celebrated. When one of our boys made an amazing hit and was running toward first base, my husband who was the first base coach at the time heard their first baseman say “Why are those parents cheering? We’re killing them!”  My husband responded, ” They’re cheering because they are proud of their kids!” This other team, despite their very high score and our very low one, continued to steal bases, chant for reasons other than “rallying”, and run on our kids all the while driving their score up and our kids further into the dirt. (Parents of children athletes understand what I’m referring to here.)

I suppose one could take the above paragraph as whining, which certainly depends on perspective. But while I want my kids to win, I want so much more for them. Learning how to steal bases, take advantage of their situation, and taunt people aren’t necessarily lessons I want them to learn. It doesn’t teach them how to win or even understand what winning is about. I want my boys to have the will to win, but I don’t want them to win at the expense of others and their dignity or spirit. I sound like a girl, I know. But as I watch our coaches, they handle the boys with discipline but also with integrity. More importantly, they expect the same from them. They are taught accountability and sportsmanship, teamwork and grace. All of which will carry them through life and be far more valuable than the lessons we’ve seen other coaches teach their boys.

It’s highly unlikely that many of these boys we compete against, or even on our team, will make it to play college or professional baseball. Teaching boys to slide with their cleats out for 9U, or condoning and encouraging narcissistic chanting, is completely wasteful of the opportunity to shape young minds to win with heart and integrity. Parents and Coaches who propel and influence their children in this way, should look in the mirror and question their own motivation and purpose.

It’s not that I don’t want my boys to win. Of course we play to win! Winning is fun and it gives you a feeling of purpose and happiness that’s impossible to replicate. It’s why we have Play offs, the World Series, trophies, and MVPs. But the will to win comes from within, and winning tastes more divine when it’s done with excellence and sportsmanship. I’m no different than any parent who dreams of their sons playing professional sports one day. But I’m also realistic and understand that they just may not have what it takes. Regardless of where their path may take them, I do believe the lessons they learn in youth baseball will be imprinted on them for life.

The coaches who teach them to respect the other team, look out for their teammates, play fair, and not take advantage of others weaknesses, are instilling crucial values that will make them better men, husbands, and father’s.  And for this, I am far more thankful.

 

 

Being Mom

I never pictured myself being a mom, when I was a young girl. I didn’t think about being one when I was a teenager or even as a young adult in my twenties. I didn’t even know if I wanted to be one when I got married. Being a mom just wasn’t anything I considered, although I knew at some point I would have to figure it out.

The first time I held a baby, the poor thing cried because I was so nervous. It’s not that I didn’t like kids, in fact I loved them. I babysat, was a camp counselor, and spent a lot of time with my niece who was my favorite kid.

But fortunately being a mom got to be a conscious decision, for me. I knew it meant giving up a lot of who I was and the life I was accustomed to. I knew being a mom meant sleepless nights and lifelong commitment to people I didn’t yet know. Then one day, having children became something I wanted more than anything and I’ve never looked back. I LOVE being a mom. It’s fun, exciting, fulfilling, demanding and rewarding. In addition to loving and absolutely adoring them, I really LIKE my kids and I think they LIKE me, as well.

But when I was a younger mom, I forgot one major thing. Me. I was so caught up in the diapers, sleepless nights, and juggling new motherhood, family, and career, I completely and totally lost sight of myself. It’s a common phenomenon and every mom I’ve ever talked to experiences the same thing. After nearly a decade, I’m learning that being Mom doesn’t mean I have to cease being ‘Jen.’ Finally discovering that, makes me unbelievably happy. It’s not that I am not completely in love with my two crazy, beautiful children. But I also want to love and be proud of myself, too.

I’ve been able to find a way to do that through a love and passion, temporarily forgotten. Writing.

Writing has helped me in every aspect of my life, as I feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that I’ve been missing. It’s not that career, family, and motherhood haven’t been enough for me. They’ve been more than enough and to have all of those things in my life make me feel incredibly fortunate and blessed. But from a young age, I was always a writer. And getting to write again, has made having a career, family, and being a mother tremendously sweeter. It has opened my eyes to just how beautiful and fulfilling my life is, and it has made everything better.

While being Mom is without question, the most important role I have ever lived, getting to be ‘Jen the writer’ is a wonderful role as well. As a parent, we put themselves on the back burner, often forgetting ourselves completely. Whether it’s writing, crafting, an hour at the salon, a visit to a coffee shop, or a night out with girlfriends, it’s important we remember who we are and what makes us happy. It means we get to be more content for our children and ultimately, makes us better parents.

I’ve come to the realization that one of the greatest gifts I can give my children, is Me. I’m their protector, encourager, motivator, and teacher. But I’m also the person to teach them that following your path in life means being true to yourself. And even though I have boys, I’m hoping this lesson will sink in when they are fathers or they need to support and encourage their overwhelmed wives.

My life has nearly come full circle from a place I wasn’t happy to be in-a few years ago, to a place I am ecstatic to be in-now. I have everything I love; job, family, life, and my writing. I give myself permission to write and shut out the world, when I want to or even sometimes need to. Not because it’s something I’m able to ‘do’, but because it’s who I am; a dreamer and a story teller. Writing takes me back to my childhood where I was enthralled with myths and fairy tales. It thrills my imagination, excites my soul, and awakens my spirit. It’s the miracle of creating something from nothing, and blending creativity with tenacity, which is ironically how I’ve always regarded motherhood. And through it all, I realize the two go hand in hand.

Now I know now how amazing my life is, being Mom.