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Entries in asian parenting (12)

Friday
May042012

Oh, but Parenting is, in fact, "a Job" @betadad

In addition to being timely, dependable, a great dad and a rakishly handsome dead ringer for Sting, my friend Betadad is an excellent writer.

All that complimenting, of course, means I'm going to disagree with him. I was going to e-mail him, but then I thought, you know, why waste five hundred words on a one person audience when I can publicly disagree with him in front of tens of people by writing a whole post.

Okay, it's hundreds. Not tens. I do have my pride. 

In a post on Dadcentric that critiques what I agree is a stupid commercial aimed at getting people to purchase soap by propagating an idea of parenting and motherhood that would seem more at home in a Greek tragedy, Betadad dismisses the idea that parenting is a job, at all:

We could have a very long and pointless discussion about what makes a job "hard" or "dirty" or "bad" or even "rewarding," but that would be beside the point.  The thing is, parenting is not a job.  It has some things in common with a job, sure, but it's a whole different animal.  We don't get paid to parent.  We can't quit if we get pissed off.  We can't look around for better parenting gigs.  We can't sue our employer.  We don't have an employer.  We don't have the option of not taking our work home with us.  We generally don't receive any training, on-the-job or otherwise. 

Well. I don't know.

If we're talking about job in the sense of being paid, then, yes, unless hugs, smiles and poopy diapers count, we are not, in fact, paid. But the word "job" doesn't just include work that is paid. While this is certainly the primary definition, my dear friend the former English teacher and Sting look alike, I believe the informal usage of "job" can refer to general tasks, paid or not.

Being the parent of small children can make you either want to tear your hair out or it can make you think you got this parenting thing in the bag. Truth is, that give or take ten years, you've got another forty or so years before you're not that child's parent any more due to the whole heart not beating any more thing.  If your kids aren't teenagers yet, you're about one thirtieth of the way through.

Saying parenting is not a job when you're three years in feels premature.

And when it's stated that one cannot be fired from this job? Having fired a parent myself, I know this to be completely false. The parent I've fired is still and always will be my biological parent, but they will never, ever hold the trust that a parent deserves. My spiritual and cultural beliefs dictate that they are treated with courtesy and respect. But my heart fired them a long time ago.

They were fired because they quit. They were fired because they tried to find a better gig. They were fired because they went to far away places and never bothered to take their work with them.

So, Betadad, it's easy to say that this isn't a job when you didn't have someone quit on you.

Furthermore, I say, yes, this is a job. I work hard every day not to be the kind of parent that will be fired. I worry every day about dropping that ball, about unconsciously quitting, about slipping into a better gig without realizing it until its too late and I'm left wondering why those damned kids never call me. We don't get paid, that's true, but we can get fired. To me, that's enough to make me want to work very hard and do a good job of it.

Furthermore, I hold the people who do this job well in high regard and esteem because I know, from experience, that they absolutely have a choice even if they think they don't.

Now, is parenting the hardest job? I don't know about that. My understanding is that dumpsters have to be cleaned and scraped on a bi-annual basis. My vote is with the dumpster cleaners.

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Monday
Aug292011

Go Play. Away From Me.  Please.


I was a "latch key" kid.


Do people even use that term anymore?

Back then, there was a lot of discussion about kids coming home to empty houses and having to fend for themselves while horribly selfish, career driven mothers were off making money.

There was even a club for us at school.

They taught us the highly useful things in this club: don’t open the door for strangers, don’t tell people on the phone that you’re by yourself, don’t use the stove to make yourself something to eat, and, good God, you poor, miserable children, look how you brave you’re being by making peace with the fact that your mother is not at home like she’s supposed to be.

We did learn a few things on our own.  For example, this situation unequivocally taught me that wrapping a barbeque sauce laden hot dog in aluminum foil and sticking it the microwave in order to emulate a barbeque flavor is an extremely ill conceived plan.

Our system at home was unique.  Mom’s office was right next door to the house... she would walk over at random times to make sure we were okay or not blowing up the house with radioactive aluminum hot dog bombs.  We were instructed to call if we needed anything.

But, mostly? We were on our own.  Two kids, making their way through the hours of 3pm and 6pm with the world at our feet and all the television we wanted.  I learned a lot about the value of diversity and cultural negotiations between American rural values and the opulent wealth driven mores of Beverly Hills from Jed, Ellie May and their concrete swimming hole.

(That sounded obscene, didn't it?  Unplanned.  But too good to edit.)

I’m not sure if  being a latch key kid played into my decision to be the kind of mom who is always going to be home with her kids.  When I became a mother, something just made me decide that my kids were not going to learn about aluminum in the microwave on their own.

It sounds good on paper.  Be home when the kids are home... be there for them when they need you.  Be there for them... every... second... of... every... day.

But.

Kids need space, man.

This clicked for me the other day when, after we’d had a snack together, played on the computer together, watched TV together, did an art project together and, then, went on a bike ride together, both of my kids said something to the effect of, “What are WE going to do now...”

WE.

Not “I”.

WE.

Everything has become “we.”

“Go play on your own for a while,” I said trying to sound NOT irate.

“No.  That’s boring....” my daughter said.

"NOOO... DATS BO-WING," my son echoed.

Huh.  Imagine.  Being bored.  With YOURSELF.

Being extremely interesting myself, I have a hard time understanding this at all.

If my children were a food, I would eat them every day, three times a day, snack on them in between meals, nibble on them right before bed, and then keep them in the nightstand in case I woke up hungry.

I want to be here for them, and I crave their attention when I don't have it.

This isn’t about me, though, it really is about them.

Because you know what?

They really do need to figure out that sometimes the best company you can keep?

Is yourself.

***


Did you know that it's Ramadan?  Did you know I explained stuff about Ramadan in one of the episodes of the podcast that I host with my token Jewish friend Mike?  Go here to listen, it's like getting a degree in religious studies in thirty five minutes or less.

Credits may or may not transfer to actual universities.  You get what you pay for, people.




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Thursday
Apr072011

Out of Town

Tariq is out of town for work again.

In an uncharacteristically passive aggressive move, I preemptively blogged on Aiming Low about Tariq's bathroom habits in an attempt to exact vengeance for being left ALL alone for four WHOLE days.

I found Chex Mix in my sneakers yesterday morning AFTER I put them on, and we also had another Sprite incident last night.  N.'s telling me I'm not "acting like her mother these days because I say 'no' too much."

My children are (1) evil geniuses and, most upsetting, (2) outnumber me.

It's a good thing I pray a lot.

Call the National Guard if you don't hear from me in a few days.  These kids don't play around.

**


Have you listened to the Hey! That's My Hummus podcast, yet?  We talked about American civic ignorance, blood money and the gay kiss on Glee.

Tuesday
Feb222011

Just Say No... To Something.  Anything.

You may think it quite obvious, but I just had an epiphany.

It's okay to say, "No."

No, I won't drop off your dry cleaning.

No, I'm not cooking tonight.

No, I didn't have a chance to make that deposit.

No, I didn't e-mail them the pictures of the kids.

No, I didn't call.

No, I won't be coming over this weekend.

No, you've already watched a lot of television today.

No, we won't be able to make it to your party.

No, I don't feel like going out.

No, I don't feel like talking.

No, you cannot sleep in my bed.

No.

And not "no" because I'm busy doing other stuff for you, but, "no" because I don't want to.

I don't want to and I don't have to, and you should know that I love you even if I don't do whatever it is that you're asking me to do right now.

"No," because deep down inside I know that I do enough, more than enough, and deep down inside, you know it, too.

It's absolutely important to show people that you love them.  I feel as though, at least for me, a great deal of overemphasis is placed on showing you love someone by the way you act and the things you do for them.  Don't misunderstand me, this is a totally accurate and necessary measuring stick, but I think we should remember that it's not the only parameter used to evaluate love.

Think about this, if doing nice things for someone means that you love them, then does saying no to doing those things every single time they ask mean that you don't love them?  I don't think so.

Because I've realized this, I can not only now say, "No... I won't" (which, by the way, is different than "No I can't"), and I don't have to be mean about it in some effort to defend myself and my "no."

I love you, but, no, I think you can do that for yourself.

I love you, but I want to make this happen instead.  In order for me to do that, I'm going to say no to you.

It doesn't mean I don't love you any less than when I say yes.

It just means that today you will either have to do it yourself, wait for someone else to do it, or just make peace with the fact that it's not getting done.  Furthermore, please trust in the fact that if I thought you would utterly and completely fail without my yes, I would simply say yes.  Dare I further suggest that my "no" is also more than a vote for my own agenda, my "no" is a vote for your ability to take care of this yourself, too?

And, guess what else?  When you say "no" to me, I will remember all of what I've said here.  I'll remember that you love me even though you are saying no to me.  I'll remember all the times you have said yes.

In fact, I will remember all of the times you did things for me when I didn't have to ask at all.

Saying yes is one way of loving someone.

Love is also feeling, telling, being... not just doing and acting.

At times, telling someone you love them should actually be enough.
Thursday
Feb032011

Move Over Evil White Men, Now There's Something Browner 

I finally watched The Social Network last week and decided the whole thing needs a rewrite.

You can read about that here.