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Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

Pick Me Up Please

05 Feb

My Mom works late. I wondered as a child if that was because she wanted to avoid us. It didn’t matter though, because she would work at home. By the time I was eight, I was lucky to get an hour with her at all.

My Dad works at home. He is a computer programmer. He was the one I saw when I got home. He was the one I ran to for comfort.

Both of them were guilty of doing things that never made sense to me. For example, when I was in fifth grade, they had me take the metro bus home because my Dad was away and my Mom didn’t want to pick me up. I had an after school program. The way she acted, she hated picking us up or even dealing with us. She refused to pick me up and since school was far, she had me take the bus.

I remember trying to figure out how the bus worked. I didn’t know how to make the bus stop. They never rode the bus with me. I had dreams for years after about not being able to get off the bus or overshooting my stop and not being able to get back. I was scared, but as usual, I was trying to feel stronger than I was. When I asked they said, “You’ll figure it out.”

My Dad always picked me up from the after school activity. He always went to the events with me. He supported me and gave me verbal support. He helped me with the design of the car I had to do for the after school project. My Mom was never there. The thing I remember her doing the most was sitting at her desk and reading. And then when she wasn’t doing that she was playing Tetris. I admit I still have bitterness at this.

My Mom outright refused to pick me up. She did the same to my brother. It took five minutes to pick us up and then take us home if we wanted it, but she always refused, pushing the responsibility on my Dad. I remember having to go to the bathroom really badly because the school bathrooms were locked and closed after school, when I was in Fifth grade in the dark, and riding on the metro bus, scared. By then, I knew I couldn’t ask her for favors in the back of my mind, but I sill couldn’t accept it.

Seventh grade, I did soccer–I admittedly sucked at it. I wasn’t that good. I liked it despite being horrible at it. I would over think the direction that the ball had to go. When one plays sports, one is supposed to have an empty mind. However, I didn’t.

My Mom later said she never went to the practices because I was terrible at soccer. My Dad went to a few games that were local and even went to pick me up from games. He picked me up from practice. Even if he was late, he was there.

I didn’t notice in Seventh grade or Eighth grade that my mom was never there for me. She always said work was more important. That’s where she put her responsibility.

It was in High School when my Dad had to work and travel that I began to notice how bad it was. My Dad was chronically late to pick me up. The coach would apologize and say he had to leave because my Dad was so leave. I had to swallow my embarrassment and tell the coach it was OK. In the car I would complain and say shouldn’t you be on time?

My Dad got better about it. My Mom was much worse. I remember once having a paper due the next day and her picking me up at 10:00 pm when it was dark, no one was at the school and I was sitting alone, in the dark and cold. Fall was coming. I could hear crickets. It was so bad sometimes people would see me and ask if I was OK.

I swallowed my embarrassment even more at having a parent not pick me up when I requested it. It was less than five minutes from my school to her work. She would complain to me.

She would say, “Why can’t you take the bus?”
I would say, “The buses stop running after that late. Can’t you just pick me up? It ends the same day, the schedule is on the calendar. You can see when the games are and when the practices are.”
“Why can’t you walk home?”
It was dark in the fall. I was 16 years old. Walking in the dark was not safe.

She would admonish me for not being willing to do it when my brother did. The difference between me and my brother though was that he gave up on her when he was little. He was five when he gave up on my mother saying, “I don’t like her.”
He decided to become independent and not rely on them. But I fruitlessly hoped that they would turn around. I wanted to be proven right for once.

I fought with her. She buried herself in her work while we fought, ignoring me. She never understood. She did it once or twice just because I fought with her. But I always felt hurt by her lack of understanding.

I stopped going to the orthodontist because of a similar incident where she refused to drop me off and show me where the office was. She left my dad to do it and said it was in “walking distance” which was 2 miles in the dark. I got there after they closed. I told her about it, and she ignored my complaint saying I should make another appointment. My Dad wasn’t around. I stopped going.

 
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Posted in Childhood, Parents

 

Let’s Play Dazzle

19 Feb

My mom liked to think that drugs cures all ills of the world when one is depressed and knows exactly why one is depressed. When I wouldn’t take her miracle drugs, just like her mother did, I needed a compromise. The exact words I thought over and over again was to buy time. I wanted to buy time to heal on my own.

I had recovered from the depths of teasing hell. I had recovered from understanding that maybe because I was Asian I wouldn’t get as much as my Adoptive parents would. I had found my own equilibrium and found who I was on my own. I had been listening to my subconscious since I was five years old. I had done amazing things that people didn’t really believe I had done. I had always rebounded. I saw this as a minor thing compared to the eight years of teasing. I had built my own personality, person, self esteem and everything inside of me by sheer force of will. Because I knew if I did not I would not be able to keep my sanity. And I always, always did it on my own.

I was still angry at my mom for thinking that quick fixes like drugs and not spending time with your daughter discussing what was wrong and the long list of denial in college, that I came up with the word psychologist. I came up with one of these words with a bit of meditation. I had learned how to do this in acting class. It really helps you focus on what’s inside of you.

When I surfaced with this, she got off my back and I was left with a psychologist. I really didn’t want the psychologist, and I didn’t really trust her either. What I wanted to do was to buy time. So I played a game with her. I call this defense dazzle. What’s worse is that I knew I was doing it. I was consciously doing it.

I had torn down my internal defenses forcefully in my senior year of High School. Since my parents would constantly bug me when I was meditating my way through problems and my Mom liked to put it down, I went out to the car. I lay down on the back seat, and I forcefully and consciously broke down all the walls I was aware of inside myself. I knew I had put them up a long time ago. It took too much work to keep those defenses up and I knew I was beginning to lie to myself which didn’t help me to attain the balance I wanted inside of myself.

Dazzle was a new defense that I knew I could take down easily later. It basically is this: You tell the person things that seem deep and dark, but you overload them with information. I call it Dazzle, because it reminds me of that salesman that shows up at your door and jabbers about how great a product is until you’re completely confused and have no way of sorting anything out.

I looked down at the psychologist for not being able to see through that simple defense mechanism. It is not a thing I am particularly proud of now, but it is a thing I knew would get me exactly the things I wanted at that time.

In turn, I took what she said as that I was mentally retarded. She didn’t understand why I couldn’t do straight memorization. She didn’t understand why I hated college so much. She didn’t understand the idea of conceptual learning. And because I hated college so vehemently at the time and she wouldn’t understand that, I played dazzle more and more. The more I played it, the more it worked.

Once I had through my own force of will sorted myself out, I ended up in California doing what I wanted to do. But it wasn’t because she helped me in the sense on things. It had just bought the right amount of time that I needed to get my mom off of my back. In addition, I think it let my mom truly believe she was not at fault. That all the things I’d been crying over and arguing with her about to let me go home from college were not true. And perhaps that explains the next major interaction I had with her.

 
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False Expectations

19 Feb

My mom would always worry when we went to her parent’s home. She would worry if we were clean enough. She would look at our shirts before we packed them and would vote down the ones with stains on them. We had to be clean.

With her parents it was always oppressive. She would say that we had to sit with them and do nothing, say nothing because they would appreciate it, that she would appreciate it too. I always felt more oppression from her to not be a child in those moments, but sometimes like I was a toy in a larger game. The game was called, “Don’t screw this up.”

There was once that we fought over me siting with her parents. The arguments were always, “Your brother did it.” Which is a fallacy. “It will make me happy.” Emotional appeal. She would bait us too, “You can write while you’re there.” As if sitting like an object in front of her parents was conducive to writing. How can anyone function when there is an air of silent of absolute obedience and you are the entertainment that says nothing. And I couldn’t help but think of all the times she complained that she had to sit around and do nothing in front of her grandparents. We had to be pretty little objects for her parents to admire. When I tried to assert my personality to them, my mom would half stop me in the middle either with, “They will argue with me.” or just a worried glare.

Her insecurities became mine. How to be pretty and not be a kid. How to sit still and do nothing. I argued that I was more like an object than a person. But she didn’t seem to care. It was about making sure her parents didn’t complain to her. The less I said, the better.

This was shattered at some point when I decided that I would assert myself. My mom objected to me wearing t-shirts and thought that the letters I sent my grandparents were pretty granddaughter letters. But what I was doing was showing I was not an object. It was not me versus them. I wanted to show I was not a doll, but someone human too. I had my faults like stains on my personality and they could embrace it. If they had objections, they could address and deal with them. I made them not the enemy.

It didn’t work. My grandfather died before my plan came into full effect. Rather my grandmother saw the effects of this. When I asserted who I was over what my mom wanted to be, I blossomed. My grandmother came to understand me. She saw me as not an exterior, but an person. She asked me questions, began to understand my likes and dislikes, what we shared, and even somewhat of a common experience. She opened up to me, and in many ways came to appreciate who I was. And I grew from it. I learned like the old adage that it was OK to be myself.

As for my mom, the expectations of me began to grow. The more I asserted myself, the less she seemed to trust me. She would sometimes tell me that this was who I was and would tell other people who I was to them too. I felt a little betrayed that she would talk about me, without letting me present myself as myself. I disliked being in a race against her.

When I dropped out of college, she was always asking me when I would go back, say things about how her friends would ask and argue for it. Her insecurities again became mine. Her expectations became everything I couldn’t be. Again, I was faced with the ghost of everything her child could have been. I wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t go to MIT. I didn’t go to a New York State college. Because what I was became more important than who I was.

When I went back to college, it was she who boasted in front of me to other people. I felt like an object again. Something to bend to her approval. I couldn’t say why I went back. I got upset at her. It reached an old wound and my own insecurities began to mound in the same place. I realized that I couldn’t be who she wanted to be, but somehow she would badger and try to get me to do it, and I would argue back that I needed to decide for myself who I was and where I needed to go.

Sometimes I dream of getting out of her grasp. I have a lot of frustration towards her. She badgers and often keeps at it until her insecurities become mine. I fight it tooth and nail, but in truth, I get tired of it. I get tired of trying to be someone who I am not. I bend because I love her and I don’t bend because I want to be myself. I don’t want her insecurities to be mine. I have enough to worry about in my own life and my own life decisions. Because I don’t care to impress her friends. Appearances are nothing to me. And it’s not always my fault.

 
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Me and Korea

19 Feb

My parents really thought it was enough to give us pale white dolls with Asian eyes and call them by our American names. Looking back, there is something ridiculous about dolls with stark white muslin with Asian eyes sewed into the head. It’s like a stereotype of an Asian come to life–they are really white–those Asians, they are the good ones. But I don’t think my parents were conscious of them. But because I couldn’t relate to these dolls, I never played with them. Neither did my brother.

They also had books about Korea that they never really read to us as children. I remember having children’s books about Korean numbers, Korean holidays, but my parents never really read them. When I asked about Korea, it was either, “I don’t know” or look it up. But there was nothing in the house to help me look it up. The paragraph on Korea in the encyclopedia was one paragraph long in each book.

I clung onto a travel video used for the Olympic games as my only source of information about Korea that wasn’t on the Korean war. I wanted to believe that Korea was not just defined by a war–which everyone else seemed to think when I said I was from Korea.

The Koreans that we saw didn’t really talk about Korea as it was. They talked about older arts and cultures. Like calligraphy and and how to wear a hanbok and Korean dance. They talked to us like we’d never been to Korea and were on a grand tour. But this, too, wasn’t what I was searching for. I didn’t know what I was really looking for until I found it.

I think what I really wanted to know was what every day life in Korea was like. What did the Average Korean person know that I didn’t know. What history was taught in the schools and what did I miss out on by not growing up in Korea. It was this ache that I really wanted to go away. I wanted to fill it with knowledge. I wanted to ebrace that culture, but no one was there to help me.

With no other Asian friends in the neighborhood–the only Asian I really knew growing up was my brother. This made it worse. And in truth, though my mother never kept me away from Korea in my childhood, she never helped me either. She was willing to help with the adoption aspects, out of duty, and took me to Korean culture groups, but when I asked a question, she wasn’t willing to help. Her duty stopped there–make the information available as much as she was willing, but that was it.

My mother became more and more distant the more that we actually learned about real Korean culture. More about every day life. More about the language. My dad never helped or showed interest in helping to know about Korea. But he never expressed himself. Maybe he knew something that we didn’t about his wife.

 
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My Parent’s Gifts

19 Feb

My parents gave up giving us real presents after we turned into teenagers. They said that they didn’t know what we wanted. Despite my interests pretty much staying the same–as in I always liked writing and drawing, they were at a loss as to what to get us.

They started asking what we would like for presents. They probably did this because my Mom started to agree it was easier after our grandparents started giving us checks. The excitement of unwrapping presents fell away and my Mom stopped really celebrating Hannukah.

For my birthday I asked for a camera. I thought it would be cool to get a camera. One with an automatic zoom to replace the older camera that no longer worked that my Mom had given to me when I was young.

They agreed to get a camera. This was shortly before we went to New York City to visit my Aunt who lived there. They got the present, granted, late, but they still got it. My Mom asked if I was bringing my camera. I said yes–because I always brought my camera before.

I learned later that she didn’t bring hers. She blamed me when I didn’t want other people taking pictures with the camera. I didn’t see it as my fault for her not bringing her camera. Apparently, they had bought the camera, with the idea that they could use it too. I was pissed off. I was also a teenager.

In my eyes, it was a present that they gave me as a present, as such I could do with it as I wished. After we got back my parents and I got into a fight. I still remember my mom sitting on the brown rocking chair with her stiff posture and crossed legs. She would glance over at my Dad for support. He wouldn’t say anything, but support her.

My Mom argued that it was a “family” camera. It was a present to me. How was it a family camera? Since she bought it with her money, they should be able to use it too.

We finally agreed I would buy the film which was a forced compromise between my Dad and me.

That was the first time I noticed she used the word, “We.”

 
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Posted in Childhood, Parents

 

Positive Memory About My Mom

19 Feb

I have good memories about my Mom too. She wasn’t nurturing, but I do remember one of the things she did.

She would do experiments with us being a scientist. We once set up an experiment from a book that entirely failed twice, baffling her to my utter amusement. I don’ remember what age I was exactly, but I think I was about 8?

The experiment was to track time from a window using a shadow and a piece of paper, wait about an hour and then with the edge of the shadow, trace on the paper how much time had passed. The principle as I now understand it, is like a sundial. However after an hour, the light on the paper had moved dramatically off of the paper. We did this twice from the same window and it was a nice sunny day.

I remember my Mom looking entirely baffled both times we did it and saying, “It shouldn’t be that way.” She was so serious about it. I asked if the earth was moving faster.

Even though my brother gave up, I tried it until the sun went down with the same results giggling and laughing that the world was different from what a book had said it was. I don’t think we ever figured out why for that one day the sun seemed to move faster across the sky.

 
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Hard Day

19 Feb

I am a pretty good cook. I can make almost anything after the third try. My rate of success is usually 99%. Sometimes, however, I utterly fail at a dish.

I am the kind of cook that makes things from what’s on hand. I like making complex things too.

This was a week my dad wasn’t home. I had decided to make dinner. My parents complained that I didn’t put in enough green vegetables. I thought this was ridiculous. Dinner is not the only meal on can have vegetables, and they had put it all out on me that they weren’t getting enough.

So I decided to make fresh spinach pasta. I started at noon and thought I was being nice. The green pasta in the stores don’t have any actual added nutrition. I started at noon, thinking I was being nice. I unfroze the spinach, but didn’t understand that one should chop or puree the spinach before putting it into the pasta. I also made spaghetti sauce from scratch.

My brother got home and was hungry. So I was making the spinach pasta, but it was too wet and wasn’t cutting in the machine.

My mom got home, cranky over something that had happened at work. She didn’t help us.

My brother and I finished but very late. I think my brother knew that my mom was getting upset. However, I was focused on making the food. I’d been on my feet for nine hours without a break. I hadn’t eaten yet and I was tired.

I physically couldn’t clean the kitchen. My feet hurt.

My mom yelled at me that I couldn’t eat dinner until the kitchen was clean. I was resentful. I had gone to the trouble of making a square meal and spent my free time–some nine hours to do it and she still yelled at me.

I told her how long it had taken to make, how I was tired. She ignored me and started to complain about things that had nothing to do with me. Her lab, her work, how all of the world was out to get her, and yelled at me about these things. They had nothing to do with me, but she still yelled at me about them.

She said that I should be the only person to clean the kitchen. I argued that Michael had made some of the mess too. I wanted to split the labor in cleaning the kitchen. She continued to ignore what I was trying to say. She ignored everything I said to insist on her position.

She argued that I should be the only one to do it because I did nothing all day. This made me even more mad. I yelled at her that I had started dinner early and that it wasn’t easy. I told her that I made a mistake and miscalculated time. She could not let it go.

My brother disappeared after that with his dinner into his bedroom. I don’t think my Mom noticed.

She wouldn’t accept anything I said. She saw it in black and white. She wouldn’t take any compromises I offered her. She did a back-handed complement. She yelled at me that she understand and appreciate what I had done. But she wasn’t going to do the cleaning because she had a hard day at work.

The argument ended with her cleaning part of the kitchen with a “you owe me” look on her face. I didn’t get to eat until eleven o’clock. My pasta sauce never tasted so bland.

 
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Fight About College

19 Feb

My mom and I got into another fight. I’d been vocal about my displeasure since I was thirteen. Thirteen was when I woke up and began to find myself. It’s also when the teasing finally stopped and adults stood up for me for the first time. Maybe that’s also when I peaked into a world where my parents’ behavior was no normal.

This fight was about college. She kept bugging me and bugging me about it until I snapped in the kitchen.

She’d been saying, “College was the best time of my life.” “You can find men in college.” She used phrases that talked about herself, in such a way that it imposed her life decisions on me.

I heard from her tone, “Why did you fail?” and “Be like me.” But I knew I couldn’t. I knew abiding to someone else’s life wishes could make me miserable and depressed. I hated that she wasn’t taking responsibility for her actions.

She couldn’t stop needling me after I said it hurt. She asked me why. So I snapped.

I yelled at her. All of my emotions flowed out of feeling so betrayed by my own family. How upset and hurt I was over calling her every day and complaining and complaining, but she signed me up for another semester anyway. Then she said it was non-refundable. After I said this, she said not to shout so loud.

I was hurt that being upset wasn’t enough. She went into her usual stance and said I couldn’t go to another college. They weren’t all the same. She ignored my hurt and wanted a “better” explanation.

I said, “I was sooo depressed.” but that too also fell on deaf ears. It was not her fault that she wouldn’t listen to me. It was Dad’s and in fact, I had never told her. “You never told me. You may have told dad, but you never told me.”

I thought she would stop after that, but she didn’t. She couldn’t stop. I started to stop believing in her after that. It took me a long time to heal and seven years to go back to college.

 
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Is this Normal?

19 Feb

I called my Mom to ask if it was normal that my boyfriend wanted me to trail behind him like he did. I was starting to feel swallowed whole. I complained about it. But it was like she didn’t really listen, though she heard what I had to say. Instead, she ignored my words and said, “What are you going to do if you come home then?”

She took this as a point to complain about my Dad and talk about fantasizing about divorcing him. That shocked me out of my own troubles.

Sadness and anger welled up in me as I hung up the phone. All I had to do was endure it. It had to be normal since she took no exception to it. I had no strength at this point to get out on my own without someone to say it was alright to leave. My own self and emotions were swallowed whole.

This is the point I realized in part, at least subconsciously, that I could not rely on her and all she really did was leave the sour taste of disappointment when I even tried to rely on her just a little.

 
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Posted in Love Life, Parenting, Parents

 

Reunion

19 Feb

I’m the kind of person that if I’m invited to a party, I’ll go. I have no problem with being around other people, and I have no problem with being alone with myself.

By this point in time, my parents had forgotten my brother’s birthday one year and then forgotten my birthday the next year. We tested them by swearing not to tell each other’s birthdays for that year to see if they would remember. They didn’t. They entirely forgot despite both of us giving them presents for their birthdays.

But I wanted t go to my High School Reunion. I thought I could visit my grandmother who was getting more and more old and frail at the time and see how some of my old classmates were doing. I’m kind of the type that people would think would be introverted in all things, but then you’d find out that I love exploring things and touching base with my past.

So I made arrangements to go to my home city. I had to book the plane tickets, myself, I asked my parents for permission, I coordinated it all. Maybe I could visit them too.

We got to the airport at our destination. Last minute I was told by my Dad to take a taxi. So I took a taxi with my ex-boyfriend in tow. I told the cabby my parent’s home address.

My dad said they would not be there, so I should have a number code ready, which I did. I used this code to open the keybox. My boyfriend, as usual was jabbering away his anxieties, but I kept quiet and finished opening the door.

I entered to a completely dead house. There is a difference between someone has just left and living there, to a house that echoes because no one has been there in a while.

Not phased, I moved my own luggage up to my ex-bedroom, which they’d always used as a guest room, kicking me out every time they had a guest.

I looked on my Mom’s desk. They had left the car keys and some contact information. My boyfriend was surprised to find out they were in Scotland. I was not. They chronically did these kinds of things. They had left a contact phone number.

I showed the house to my boyfriend, got some food–most of which was rotting already because they never clean out the refrigerator on their own unless it’s 2 months past its expiration date, and then pittered around the internet, brushed my teeth and went to bed.

In the morning, we went to the car because there is a restaurant I like and I wanted to go there. They have some excellent chili cheese fries. The car didn’t start. Through some earlier genius, my Mom had thrown away my driver’s license renewal, meaning it would cost a lot of money and tons of hassle to get a new one in my new state. I’d asked her to turn it in, stamped it and just asked her t turn itinto the post Office. She threw it out.

I couldn’t drive legally, so that left my ex-boyfriend to do it–I don’t think he would be the type to let me drive anyhow. The car wouldn’t start. This left me in a panic. What should I do? My reunion was scheduled to be that same day. So I tried to call my parents, but I didn’t have their phone number correct because they had neglected to leave a country code. I was forced to call the operator. The operator connected me to another operator. But they’d left me the wrong number, so I was forced to ask that operator for a legit phone number. I left a message with the desk clerk to call me back.

We walked our way to the lunch place and my boyfriend bitched all the way there about walking at all and about my parents, and so on. I like making the best of things. If situation calls for you to walk, see it as good exercise. It wasn’t that far. I’d walked five miles in the snow and cold before, anyhow because of similar situations.

So we finally got to the restaurant and I try calling again. “Yes, we got your message.” And they didn’t call me back. Oh great. They knew that the car was having starter troubles, but had left the keys there for us anyhow. My boyfriend could drive stick sift, which was on the other car.

Since they were trying to ping pong me back and forth I just had them talk to each other. We ended up having to rent a car, but *surprise* Even Enterprise wouldn’t pick us up. We had to take a taxi back to the airport, get a car and come back. I ended up going to my reunion after it was done, and meeting about three of my former classmates, none of which were really close friends in High School.

But then my boyfriend decided t do laundry. You know, for the trip back. It turned out that the dryer wasn’t working. That was also missing from the note. Fast forward through another series of complicated long distance phone calls, and it turns out that they knew the dryer wasn’t working. So we ended up going to a laundry mat to dry the clothes.

I was apologizing profusely for my parents’ behavior by now, but not saying things like, “They aren’t usually like this.” I was used to this kind of behavior by now that it didn’t phase me.

After the clothes were dry and we got some Jamaican food, we went back on an airplane to the other hell hole.

The irony of this is that my boyfriend said to me later that I wasn’t grateful to my parents enough. But this incident made me unholy mad at both of them. It was hardly what they’d been trying to drill into my head about responsibility, even as they had none. Later on they both laughed my anger away saying they knew.

 
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Posted in Love Life, Parents

 
 
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