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bad mommy alert

The best description of what it is like to be a parent is a comment left by suesue on Merrilymarylee’s Weblog:

Having a child was deciding to have your heart walking around outside your body forever

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My oldest turned 12 this week.

12.

That is a full Zodiac Cycle. I am sure it means something.

I am lucky in the sense that I only have boys; boys mature much later both physically and emotionally than girls, as I was assured by many moms with preteen girls. Therefore we really have not hit the “preteen” stage until recently. Like, a month ago.

The heralding moment? Facebook. As in,

“Mom. Can I have a Facebook account? Why can’t I be on Facebook? EVERYBODY ELSE is on Facebook!”

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You should be scared. Very very scared when your parents are on Facebook...

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It took me one month to go through the entire grief cycle and I am finally calm and collected enough to talk about it without sobbing uncontrollably.

It all started when he came home one Friday afternoon when I happened to be working from home. He seemed a bit jumpy. Happy jumpy.

“Mom… Can I tell you something? Hmmm… Well… Something happened at school today… NO. Nothing bad… Hmmm. Uhhhh.”

“Would you like to IM me about it? Would it be easier for you to tell me?”

“Yes!” He ran to the family computer and Ping! <<Begin transmission>>

son: mom
so…
me: yup
what’s going on?
son: um
i didnt tell u b4 but
ive always kinda…
me: i am fat?
son: liked
[this girl]
and
me: ohhhhhh
sorry dude
son: 2day
she said she liked me 2
:)
me: awwww
son: happy
me: :-)
son: :)
yay
ok
bye <<end transmission>>

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The :-) from me was a big fat lie. Acting skills came in handy in motherhood I learned. All through the exchange I was screaming inside my head. Headless chicken running around. WTF? He’s only in 6th grade! Elementary school. Why is he liking girls already?! Ohhh WOE IS ME! WTF?! Take a deep breath. Try to stay calm. You don’t want to make any wrong move. ’cause if you startle the snakes, you’ll never catch them again…

Thus began the Grief Cycle…

Denial: “No. Not him. Not my son. The 6th grader. Wasn’t he just a baby not too long ago? Aren’t 6th graders supposed to be safe from these things?!! I thought he hated girls. What happened to ‘Ewww. Girls’?! I thought I had to wait until Junior High for this? What’s happening?!”

Unfortunately, this phase lasted about 5 minutes since later when I signed his weekly school report, I saw:

“Dear Parental Unit…The best part is that the most beautiful girl in the scholl like me! Awesomeness!!”

Anger: “WTF? Why is this girl ruining my life?! Why is HE ruining my life?!”

My Facebook status read: “[Son] just said he wants a Facebook account. Then he showed me just HOW MANY of his classmates are on Facebook. 6th graders? With hundreds of friends? Already? Seriously? WT[beep]?! What happened to my baby?! I need to seriously get those evil women away from him…”

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Ok. Maybe I won't be the worst mother-in-law in the world...

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Soon the anger was channeled towards my husband who dared to laugh out loud when I informed him of the blossoming puppy love.

Unfortunately, this phase lasted for the longest time. I was mad in advance at the cruelty of my children, forsaking me for THAT OTHER WOMAN in the future. In my most irrational moments, I even called him SOB in my head as in ME being the Biatch. I said I was being irrational… Yeah, I know. I am going to be the worst mother-in-law in history. I can tell already from the boiling blood inside my skull…

Bargaining: “If I am a better mother, maybe he will not become wayward like this.” “I wonder whether supplying him with more video games will help divert his attention away from girls.”

The bargaining goes both ways – Facebook time & privilege has now become a major ACE in my card deck when bargaining with my oldest. I can also threaten him with, “I am going to write on your wall!” <cue evil laughter>

Depression: “Fine. He’s going to leave anyway. He’s going to grow up. My baby….”

This phase actually started from the beginning as I alternated between cursing and sobbing, especially when I went through his baby pictures.

Acceptance: “It’s going to be ok. I can deal with this. We can do this. I will survive without killing anybody.”

By talking to people about their “OMG my child is on Facebook” experiences, I learned that there are ways to tame this monster to your own parental advantages. After some trial and errors, Facebook turned out to be not as evil cradle robber as I expected. I can now spy check on my son and see who he is talking to, and what.

All in all, reflecting on this agonizing month, I am glad that I bit my tongue and played it cool. Yes, at the beginning there were a lot of dramas that provided record-high number of WTF moments in one sitting. 6th graders? Lamenting about love lost? Say what? Not to mention the “F” letter scattered throughout the conversations, most of the time unnecessarily. Do you seriously need to use LMFAO? The initial excitement over the “declaration” has apparently worn off.  My son’s Facebook status now consists mainly of game score updates. THAT’s my boy.

As I said to my husband, I feel better that my baby still prefers video games to girls. I don’t mind if my boys are geeks. I am sure that Bill Gates’ mom didn’t mind at all. Not one bit.


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My mom and dad called last Friday. Actually my mom did. Mom’s always the one that calls. And she always calls around 9 pm when it is the absolutely most friggin’ chaotic in the house. And she always pleads innocence saying she cannot figure out the time difference. And she always asks, “Have you eaten yet?” even after I tell her “It is 9 pm here. Ma!”

“It is cold there now, right? It is freezing here.” My mom says. Every single time during the winter. Did I tell you that they live in Taiwan? A sub-tropical island? The temperature in Taipei was supposed to reach 69 °F that day (as opposed to 36 °F here in Chicago and actually considered to be warm since it is finally above friggin’ freezing…)

“Ma. Sigh. You do know that the weather there has nothing to do with the weather here, right?” I could not bite my tongue and just let this one go.

“But it is really cold here. I bet it feels colder here.” My mom is a “last-worder” too: that’s probably where I got it. Between my husband and myself, my kids are doomed both nature- and nurture-wise. “Do you want to talk to your dad? Oh wait. Your dad wants to talk to you. Actually, he asked me to call you.”

Pleasantly surprised since my dad never wanted to talk to me on the phone, not that he loves me less but because he’s a man, I screamed, “Ba!” (The Chinese word for “Dad”) when my mom handed him the receiver. At 80, my dad is hard of hearing nowadays.

“Have you eaten yet?” He said, without a beat.

Sigh. “Yes. I have.”

“Is it snowing in Chicago because it is really cold here.”

Sigh. “Actually it is warmer today because it is above freezing.”

“Really? That’s something.”

“So… what’s going on? What are you doing today?” I know better than to expect my 80-year-old father to tell me something exciting in his plan for the day.

“Nothing. Just watching TV…. You haven’t called home for a long time. Is your husband still out of the country?”

“Yeah. He’s in Spain this time.”

“That’s what I thought when you didn’t call home for a long time. You must be very busy with the kids then.”

As if on cue, my oldest came to stand by my side and whispered loudly, “Mom. Mom. Mom!”

I glared at him and pressed my point finger to my lips. Ignoring my gesture, he continued,

“Mom! My gum hurts because my tooth here,” he proceeded to open his mouth with both hands so I could see better, “See? It is coming out. My tooth! My gum hurts!”

I turned my back towards him. He did not give up and came around to the other side, “So I need to go see a dentist…”

“Dad. Hold on. Just a sec.” I switched to English to deal with the dental crisis that was not, “Can’t you see I am on the phone with my parents? We’ll talk about this later.”

As if he did not hear what I just said, he switched to a brand new subject, “Mom, we need to pick up my new glasses!”

“I will. Tomorrow! I need to bring you with when we pick up your glasses…” I gritted my teeth.

All this time, Mr. Monk was on the floor pouring sugar into a bowl so he could make crystals according to the science book that he got last November. He never showed interest in the darn book until I was on the phone. Now he was next to me as well,

“Mom. What is a saucer?… Is it this?” He pulled out the biggest pot to show me, making a loud clattering noise.

“NO! That is NOT a saucer. And why do you need a saucer NOW for god’s sake?!” I raised my voice.

Seriously. They were quietly reading at the kitchen table before the phone rang. It just seems that EVERY TIME when I am on the phone, all of a sudden they have urgent information to share, questions to ask, emergencies to deal with. The sky is falling! We need your attention NOW!

I could hear my dad on the other side of the phone line: “It sounds like your children need you. I just want to hear you voice. We’ll talk later.”

“No. Dad!” He hung up before I could protest further. I frantically tried to dial my parents’ phone number. I am not making this up: in order to call my folks, I need to dial 22 friggin’ numbers. That’s right. 22. After the third try, the call finally went through.

“Mom. Is dad there? Could I talk to him?”

“He hung up on you, didn’t he? That man. He always does that. I told him to give me the phone and he said you were busy! Here he is.”

“Dad. You didn’t have to hang up!”

“But you are busy. You should go tend to the children.”

Exasperated now. “No. They can wait. They are not babies any more. They need to learn to be respectful!”

Of course, all this was said in Chinese so my children did not get any benefits from this lecture which explained why at this exact moment, at the same time, my oldest decided to play on a laptop that ran out of power and was struggling to get the power cord out from behind a desk at the risk of toppling everything that was sitting on the desk, and my youngest decided to pour sugar solution (sugar:water 6:1) from a sauce pot into a shallow saucer.

I watched all of it unfold in slow motion, and I could feel myself boiling. I did not even bother to cover the receiver as I exploded.

“WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THAT I AM TALKING TO MY PARENTS? HOW OFTEN DO I GET TO TALK TO THEM? I AM ONLY ON THE PHONE FOR FIVE MINUTES! DID ANYBODY BLEED? IS ANYBODY DYING? NO? THEN DON’T INTERRUPT ME! NOTHING IS THAT URGENT! Go to your rooms NOW! No. Don’t touch anything. Leave that on the floor. Just GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

Switching to Chinese, “I am back. Dad, what were you saying?” I was expecting him to give me another lecture about being more lady-like.

“Whoa. You sounded just like my mother when we were little.” My dad commented.

My grandmother had 14 children. I have never met her, and my dad has not told me much about his mother, that is, he has never really reminisced about his childhood. When I was around, I was too young to ask these questions; now that I am old enough, I am not around enough.

Not sure whether this was something I should defend myself against, I defended my grandmother instead. “Well. There were so many of you. If she did not yell like that, she probably could not keep all of you in check.”

“That’s what I said. You sounded just like my mother.” He chuckled.  “That really reminds me of when I was a kid. We lived on a farm so she could yell like that without disturbing the neighbors.”

Maybe I was just imagining things, but he sounded like he had tears in his eyes when he said again, so quietly this time as if he weren’t talking to me,

“Wow. This really brings back childhood memories.”

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"Ma! There is nothing inside!"

"Ma! There is nothing inside!"



If not for the end of NaBloPoMo, I would not have been so eager to see December, in all honesty.

Who's your daddy?!

Who's your daddy?!



Sorry, December. It’s not you. On second thought, actually, it is you.

I am just remembering the things I need to accomplish before we get on the plane to DC for Christmas on December 20. I am too scared to start making the list. Christmas shopping is the least of my worry right now. (Hello! Walgreens and CVS!) Real Fear #1 is that I may need to send out a Christmas card, NOT with the adorable picture of my kids smiling after I yell “DAMN IT! SMILE NOW OR I WILL DO IT FOR YOU!” which sadly is an annual occurrence, BUT of a picture of James Garfield since it is extremely tempting AND it just seems so much easier than trying to capture the smiles of my kids in the midst of whining, grabassing and soon sobbing.

(Do we have an English teacher in the house? I am sure the above sentence is a prime example for teaching your students how to fix grammatic errors. You can use it for free. You are welcome).

Real Fear #2, or perhaps it is simply Annoyance #1: Advent Calendar. HOW TO FILL THAT SUCKER EVERY SINGLE DAY MORNING? Oh, and REMEMBER TO FILL IT EVERY MORNING. That would help.

I forget, the way I forget that “tooth fairy brings a coin the night you lost your tooth”, saved only by crawling under the bed and yelling, “Oh, honey, look! It is here all along. It just fell!”

An advice to you out there without an Advent Calendar but are considering it: Do NOT do it. But if you must, make sure you get the Advent Calendar with BIG spaces for the stuff. Ours has itzy bitzy spaces that are meant for the Lilliputians. I kid you not. It is a great source of stress for me every year, trying to figure out WHAT in the hell I can shove into that tiny hole, for TWO kids.

I decided on Quarters last year. I was so proud of myself: Who does not like cash?

Well, my kids don’t.

You think I can get pieces of coals that can fit in that box?

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Word of the Day: Disguise

November 21, 2009 no manual for parenting

Tweet “The secret agent is in disguise.”  The caption of the picture says. (No, I didn’t draw the picture. My 6 year old did). I thought I’d use this picture to comment on the following pictures: These pictures were meant for a post on how I was trying to be the Best Mom in the […]

26 comments

Finally, Bacon Vodka is no longer just a myth…

November 14, 2009 random

Tweet To those who have not heard about my temporary relapse of sanity that led me to embark on this dark and lonely road of trying to make my own bacon-flavored Vodka, I announced my Bacon Vodka experiment in August. Much to my own surprise, I actually followed through immediately and went to Walmart for the […]

4 comments

Forget glue guns: Metallic Permanent Pens are the only things you need…

November 10, 2009 no manual for parenting

Tweet This was the post I meant to compose this Saturday, right after I rushed the kids off to the Religious Education class kindly provided by the Catholic church.  Especially helpful since their mother is a Heathen.  As usual, we were late. But this year the teacher is nice. She never once gave me the […]

18 comments

Things I should be doing instead of agonizing over falling behind for NaBloPoMo…

November 8, 2009 random

Tweet I know myself only too well. I already missed the 8th post for this NaBloPoMo thing I decided to participate in. Deadline yesterday. But I am going to cheat by turning time backwards through the magic buttons on my blog dashboard. It is not because I am a religious person and I don’t believe […]

10 comments

“How you should behave when you grow up”: a primer for your kids

November 1, 2009 no manual for parenting

Tweet My 6 year-old, at the end of sugar high, launched into a campaign for something that he thinks my husband and I should offer to him and his older brother. “A program.  A program for ‘How you should be like when you grow up‘,” he said. “Mom.  I think you and daddy should give […]

4 comments

What bacons look like after you soaked them in Vodka for 4 weeks…

September 26, 2009 random

Tweet This post is Part 5 of a series of posts documenting an impromptu DIY project I took on when I done and gone nuts on one Sunday afternoon…  It is indeed very interesting that the whole thing started on a Sunday afternoon, don’t ya think, after I’d been alone with the kids for 2 […]

10 comments

“I want to be an artist so I can be rich!”

September 24, 2009 no manual for parenting

Tweet “Mom, what did you want to do when you grew up?” My 6 year-old asked innocently. This question stirs a lot of anxiety inside me, but that’s another post, if you are unlucky enough, I may indulge myself in one day… He’s been really concerned about his future lately. He has pondered on being […]

6 comments