When Failure Means Progress

For all of us in the U.S. (except for the lovely states of Hawaii and Arizona), there’s this wonderful day in March where we lose an hour of sleep every single year. And every single year, I—along with every parent in the country—dread this day. Well, actually most of us also dread the day we gain an hour each year because that means earlier wake-up times for the kiddos. (And all of us wonder if whoever started Daylight Saving Time had kids because no parent in their right mind would have thought this was a good idea! LOL) Anyhow, this year I wasn’t the only one dreading the time change; C was too.

Who else agrees?! LOL

For the first time in her life, she understood the logical consequences of DST. Specifically, that by losing an hour of sleep, she had to wake up an hour earlier … and if she couldn’t wake up at the right time, then she wouldn’t have enough time to do all the things she did in the morning before school and—BAM!—the world would end. (Where she gets this “all or nothing” way of thinking, I don’t know, cough cough!) The bottom line was: She had to wake up on time—or else! (To show how punctual she likes to be, let me tell you that she actually arrived on her due date, which supposedly only 5% of babies do.)

I tried to calm her fears by telling her that it wasn’t the first time she’d gone through DST. She’s had 7 years of experience losing an hour of sleep and everything turned out all right. And because DST starts at 2AM on Sunday, we have a day to practice getting up earlier. And most of all, everyone is tired and cranky after DST happens, so it’d be understandable if she was late to school on Monday.

Did my logical reasons convince her not to panic? Of course … not! 😛 So, like a lot of the time in life, I just had to let her face the problem and help her through it.

The morning after DST, she promptly announced, “I failed! I woke up late!” to which I replied, “It’s okay! You’re adjusting! It’ll get better. It takes a few days.”

This back-and-forth exchange happened every day this week, even today. But thankfully, the defeated tone in her voice has lessened little by little, day by day. As her mama, I hope and pray she’s learning that the world will not in fact end because things don’t go exactly the way she wants them to. That failure means progress, because you can always try again (and improve!). And that change and growth take time to produce. Most of all, I hope she takes this small lesson and applies it to the other hurdles she will face in life … especially next year when we’ll need to lose an hour of sleep again. 😉

I don’t think there’s any song out there about kids dealing with DST, but here’s one that’s literally for the children, New Kids On the Block’s “This One’s for the Children”.

How do you help yourself or your kiddos deal with change?

How a Blogger Respects Her Kid’s Wish for Privacy

One of my munchkins (who shall remain anonymous) told me recently, “I don’t want you to write about me or even say that you have a son.”

Aiya.

My response? “Okay. (Sigh) I won’t anymore from now on.”

Image courtesy of http://www.symbols-n-emoticons.com/2012/09/zipping-mouth-shut.html

So in case you wonder why I won’t be mentioning my firstborn child from now on in my blogs or anywhere on social media, you’ll know why. 🙂

I always knew the day would come when I’d have to respect my kids’ privacy online. I get it, especially since the child I’m talking about is an introvert like me. Even if he weren’t, I’d still understand why he doesn’t want his mom talking about him to the entire world. ‘Cause let’s face it, having a blog means everything you post is accessible to anyone and everyone on the planet. I respect his need to keep some things (actually, most things) about himself for himself.

This is specifically the reason why I don’t post pictures of my kids’ faces on this blog, but I do realize now that the stories I write about them—however cute and funny and sweet they may be—are as personal and identifiable as their photos are. And even though these stories often times impact me as their mom, they belong to them. These are their stories to tell.

So, what does this mean for this mama who loves to blog about her munchkins? Well, I’ll still be sharing about my experiences and lessons learned as a mom, just more in general terms. And more importantly, when I do want to write about my munchkins, I’ll ask for permission first.

How do you feel about sharing photos and stories about your kids on social media? 

Here’s a really creative rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by Kurt Hugo Schneider and Amazon Echo that the kids may (or may not) have enjoyed watching. 😉

When Your Kids Surpass You

There’s been a word tossed around the house a lot this week between the hubby and E. It’s only two syllables long, but when announced in a challenging tone, it’s powerful enough to get your adrenaline pumping. What’s the word?

Rematch!

Yup, every evening at dinnertime, either hubby or E will say, “Rematch!” And after dinner the two of them will get out the chess set and go to battle. 🙂

In the past, especially when E first started learning how to play chess, it came as no surprise that hubby would win most (if not all) of the games. These days, however, the playing field has been leveled. There are more cries of, “No way!”, “What?!”, and “I can’t believe it!” from poor hubby. Because it’s finally happened. Our 10 year old son can beat him at chess now. Here’s the photographic evidence. (To be fair, I missed the game where hubby beat him.) 😉

Amid hubby’s groans of shock and disappointment, I couldn’t help but smile. I gently commented, “But don’t we want our kids to be better than us?”

His answer? “Yes, but not this soon!”

LOL. 🙂

I get his point. I already got his point a year ago when E beat me at chess. I was okay accepting defeat, however, because chess isn’t my strong suit. But if E or C were to start correcting my grammar, that would be another story. 😉

But the funny thing about being a parent is that our job is to make sure our kids succeed. And succeeding often times means surpassing.

I, for one, hope my kids surpass me. I hope they have more confidence than me, will speak up for themselves and others more than me, and have a greater positive influence on the world around them. I don’t mind if they’re smarter, kinder, more generous and loving than both hubby and me. In fact, I want them to be the most awesome people they can be, even if that means we’re (slightly) less awesome than they are. 😉

Because then we’ll know we’ve done our job as parents well.

Here’s a song, “Believe” by Shawn Mendes, that talks about believing in people. May our belief in our kids help them to believe in themselves.

In what ways have you surpassed your parents? In what ways do you hope your kids will surpass you?

The Benefits of Crying

When the munchkins were younger, there was a lot of crying in our house. Actually, there was a lot of crying outside the house and in the car, too. Let’s just say that if we had collected all those tears they shed (as well as the ones I shed during their tantrums and meltdowns!), we could’ve helped out our drought-stricken state of California. 😉 Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past weeks to fill up those reservoirs and the kids are able to process their emotions a little more calmly these days.

I personally have a hard time staying calm when E or C gets upset, but hubby has the patience of a saint. Not only will he look at their red, open-mouthed faces with adoration, he’ll also tell them, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Just cry?! (Does that include me, too? LOL!)

But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years as a parent, it’s that one, kids cry a lot, and two, crying can be helpful.

Having been raised by my strict, no-funny-business grandma, however, I learned not to cry. I learned it was safer to stuff my emotions inside rather than show them. Which is why I struggle so much when the kids need to cry. And I use the word need because sometimes we just need to cry.

If you Google “benefits of crying”, you’ll find countless articles (here’s one) touting the physical and emotional benefits of tears. Crying releases toxins, helps you deal with stress, and makes you more mindful of your emotions and experiences. Moreover, shedding tears in front of people you feel safe with helps build your connection with them. So it’s a good thing to cry by yourself and with others! Crazy idea, huh?

But boy, does it feel good to turn on the waterworks once in a while, especially if you tend to be more of an uptight and anxious person (if you are, welcome! you’re in good company here). 😉 The thing with crying though is that if you don’t allow yourself to do it regularly, you can get out of practice. And no amount of sheer willpower can force the tears to fall (unless maybe you’re an actor). What do you do then? Watch a sad movie or TV show or read a sad story or listen to a sad song. I stumbled upon this solution recently when I started watching NBC’s This Is Us. If you haven’t heard of this show, you need to check it out. I guarantee you will shed a few (or more) tears each and every episode. Just make sure you don’t watch it right before you have to pick up the kiddos from school—I learned this lesson the hard way! 😉 This show is now my regular “therapy session” where I tell myself, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Because it is so okay to cry. Crying is good for our body, mind and soul. So give it a go sometime soon. And take comfort in the fact that your tears do not go unnoticed. As it says in Psalm 56:8,

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

This song gets me every time. Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Heaven is the Face” is a song about the passing of his daughter, but it also speaks of our hope in God to one day be with Him in a place where we’ll no longer have a need to cry.

What were you taught about crying? What do you believe about it now?

When You Can’t Take Things Too Personally as a Parent

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We artistic types can be a little sensitive. Here’s a visual of what that looks like (and a throwback to one of my favorite shows from my twenties, haha). 😉

Meme courtesy of https://memegenerator.net/Dawson-Crying

This is the first meme I ever made! (Meme courtesy of https://memegenerator.net/Dawson-Crying)

I think there’s a logical explanation for this. Creative people—whether they be artists, writers, actors, singers or dancers—feel a lot and what they feel comes out in their various forms of art. That’s why when we hear a catchy song, watch a moving performance, or read a beautiful piece of writing, it touches something within us and makes us feel, too. And to make someone feel something you feel takes a bit of talent and hard work, of course, but most of all it requires a sensitive soul.

That’s why artists can be a little too sensitive sometimes for their own good. Take for example the author who got hung up over the fact that during her last free book promotion, she discovered not one, but TWO people had returned her book, even though it had been free. FREE, I tell you! Who returns something they got for free?! Either someone who accidentally downloaded it twice (totally wishful thinking here) or someone who disliked the story THAT much. (Insert Dawson’s crying face here! :P)

Well, I’ve had a few days to have my #authorpityparty and commiserate with other authors who had the same thing happen to them. (I’m sooo glad it’s not just me!) And the one thing I’ve learned? You just can’t take things too personally sometimes, even if you’re an artist.

But this applies even more when you’re a parent.

Have you heard of the saying, “Your child is not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time“? Take a minute and let that soak in because they’re some wise words every parent needs to remember all the time. If I could rewind back to when my first munchkin was born, I’d print that statement out in big, bold letters and post it in every room of the house. And the car. And maybe even on my kids’ shirts, so that every time they did something that made me want to pull my hair out and cry, I would’ve remembered to not take it so personally. Because honestly, so much about parenting has to do with them and not us.

When they have a meltdown in the middle of the store, it’s not because they want to make you look and feel like a bad parent, it’s more likely because they’re tired or hungry or bored. When they huff and puff and storm off to their room and slam the door, it’s not because they want to undermine your authority (okay, maybe a little?), it’s because they’re frustrated and angry and overwhelmed by their emotions. In short, they’re having a hard time, not trying to give you a hard time.

During my kids’ hard times, I often have to remind myself to step outside of the situation and see things from their perspective. I find that I parent better when I don’t take their behavior personally. When I try to figure out what they’re having a hard time with, I respond with less anger and yelling and more patience and understanding. It’s no longer a case of me versus them, it’s me with them. And when you’re on the same side as your child, it’s easier to listen and love them.

Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t have your #parentpityparty afterwards. Parents have feelings, too, and we need to take care of ourselves, especially when we’ve been investing our energy into little people. So what can you do with all the emotions you have? Hmm. Maybe try something artsy? Just be forewarned … us artistic types can be a little sensitive. 😉

I’m loving this group I discovered on YouTube recently, the Gardiner Sisters. Take a listen to their lovely cover of Dan + Shay’s song, “Lately”.

How do you not take things too personally in your personal or professional lives?

The Things You Do For Your Kids

Several years ago, our family (along with my lil sis) ventured down to Southern California to visit my relatives. Since they live about an hour away from Anaheim, we decided to stop by Disneyland. When I say “stop by”, that was about as much as we could do with a clingy toddler and a waddling pregnant woman (moi!) in tow. E had also brought along his beloved Winnie the Pooh plush toy that he loved with all the heartfelt affection of a two year old (translation: it never left his side).

Isn't he cute? He's even carrying a backpack.

Isn’t he cute? He’s even carrying a backpack.

We hit up a couple of the calm rides (ie. It’s a Small World) and then got in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean. Hubby had reservations about how our highly sensitive munchkin would react to the one-eyed buccaneers, but I was determined (aka. stubborn) to go on my favorite ride, which I hadn’t been on since high school. When we finally made it to the front of the line, we hopped aboard our little boat and set off for the great unknown.

Great unknown was right.

Thirty seconds into the ride, I started regretting my stubbornness. Poor E was huddled next to hubby, his little body cringing at all the strange sights and scary sounds around him. Those fun plunges down the waterfalls that I’d been looking forward to didn’t seem so fun anymore, especially when 7 months pregnant (hm, maybe that’s why C is so feisty?)! We were all more than relieved when the ride ended, and we quickly got off, with not even a backward glance.

It wasn’t until we were a good thirty feet away did E realize we’d forgotten something back in the Caribbean. Yup, we’d left Pooh with the pirates!

Poor E was distraught, his big brown eyes filling up with tears. Hubby ran back to the ride as we waddled after him, but before we made it, he met us with a sad, weary look on his face. We spent the rest of the evening at the Lost and Found, hoping someone would find E’s toy and turn it in. Suffice it to say, Disneyland was not the happiest place on earth for us that day.

After E went to sleep that night, hubby and I racked our brains for some way to console our dear son. If we could have, we’d have rushed out to buy him another Pooh Bear (maybe 2!). But as life would have it, his Pooh Bear had been a gift from a friend who lives in Europe and didn’t exist on our continent. So, I did what any desperate parent would do, I turned to eBay.

Thank you, eBay!

Amazingly, we found the ONLY listing with the EXACT SAME Pooh Bear being sold by someone in the UK. The catch? They would only ship to UK buyers. So, I did what any stubborn parent would do at one o’clock in the morning, I sent the seller a message of our epic, tragic tale. I even offered to pay extra for them to ship it to the US. They replied with a gracious message agreeing to the transaction and voila—we were the proud owners of E’s Pooh Bear (again).

A week later when we were back at home, a package arrived in the mail from the UK. I promptly brought it to E and opened it with him. When he took Pooh Bear out of the brown paper bag, he eyed it carefully, then eyed me, waiting for a reasonable explanation as to how we managed to find his toy.

“Mickey Mouse found him and mailed him to us!” I declared with what I hoped was enough conviction and enthusiasm.

E seemed to buy my story, but to be honest, he didn’t treat that Pooh Bear the same way he treated the first one. 🙁

Just last week I was cleaning out C’s room and stumbled upon Pooh Bear (the second) whom she had inherited from E and couldn’t bear (pun intended, heehee) to give it away. I turned to E and asked him, “Remember this? You used to love him.”

In his no-nonsense way, he replied, “Didn’t you say someone found it, but you bought it?”

Yes, dear son, that is the simple explanation of the story. But it leaves out all the emotions we as your parents experienced that night. Guilt for dragging you on a ride you weren’t ready for. Angst at the sight of your sweet, sad face when you realized your prized possession was gone. Determination to make things right again in your world. And finally, joy when we found the elusive pirate’s booty (obtained in our case by legal means) and presented it to you.

Even if neither you nor C treasure Pooh Bear anymore, I think I’ll hold onto it. It helps remind me of all the crazy, roll-your-eyes things that parents do for their kids. Why? Because we love them.

Hm. Maybe it is a simple explanation after all. 🙂

I couldn’t find a song to go with this post, but I did find a funny, very stereotypical video by Wong Fu Productions about the things Asian parents say to show they love their kids. 😉

What are some crazy or cool things you’ve done to show your love to your kids (or your parents did for you)?

Dear Son (A letter about puppy love)

Dear Firstborn Munchkin,

When I dropped you off at school today, I got a glimpse of some budding puppy love. I recognized that delighted, somewhat mischievous smile on your face, the one you have when you purposefully do something to bug your little sister—except this time, it wasn’t C that you annoyed, but a cute girl in your class.

Right away, I realized what was going on and my heart cringed in my chest. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. But now that it’s here, let’s have a little chat … about love.

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re sensitive like me, you probably feel a lot of emotions and will end up being a hopeless romantic. You’ll notice things about the opposite sex and will discover a little quirk about someone—a certain laugh or look—that will catch your eye. You’ll experience butterflies in your stomach whenever you hear her voice, and if she looks your way, it will be like one of those Matrix moments when time slows down … waaaay down.

If you’re a ladies man like your Baba was, you won’t have trouble catching a girl’s eye. You’ll know how to strike up a conversation by asking good questions and making just the right amount of eye contact so you come across as interested, but not creepy. You’ll do all the gentlemanly things, like opening doors or giving her your jacket when she’s cold, that will have her falling faster for you than the bullets that drop to the ground when those Matrix slo-mo moments are over.

Okay, enough with the stalling (and movie references). 😉 I guess what I’m trying to say is that love is a tricky thing. All the emotions you’re feeling are normal and a part of life. But don’t give your heart away just yet. The feelings you have now are sweet and special, but they will likely change. Someone new may catch your eye next year or the year after that. Like I always tell you and C, hold your horses! Be patient. You’ve got a long ways to go.

It will probably take another decade or two to find the girl of your dreams. In the meantime, keep growing and improving yourself. Make friends and develop those friendships. Guard your heart from liking the wrong girls, the ones who don’t appreciate you for exactly who you are. Pick yourself up when you do fall for the wrong ones, and learn from your mistakes. Save up your dreams and hopes for the woman who’ll be worth waiting for.

And come talk to me and Baba anytime. As hard as it is to believe, we were young once, too. We’ve got a lot of life experiences to share from (most of which we will not tell you about in specifics). 😉 We do remember what it feels like to fall in love, but more importantly, we know what it’s like to work hard to stay in love. We’ll do our best to help you navigate through the crazy, but wonderful, journey, too.

Love,

Your Mama

P.S. Baba says your tactic is one he would’ve used when he was your age, but he didn’t care about the opposite sex that early. Hm. Seems like you got a bit of both of our genes. 😉

Take a listen to JR Aquino’s song, “By Chance (You & I)”, a super cute and catchy song about falling in love. 🙂

Do you remember your first experience with puppy love?

Dear Struggling Mama

Dear Struggling Mama,

I see you. Yes, you, the one hiding in the bathroom with her head in her hands. I know you just endured 40 minutes in mama hell as your little one had (yet another) homework meltdown. I heard her screaming and crying and saw her face turn tomato red as she released her frustration with clenched fists and kicking feet. I felt your frustration as you tried to explain the assignment to her (in between her gulps for air) and give examples of how to answer the questions. I sensed the effort you made to stay calm—count to 10, take deep breaths, and pray—and be sympathetic because you remembered losing your patience last time and how much you regretted it. I know how with each passing minute, your ears began hurting and you just wanted to run away and hide because the situation seemed hopeless. You felt hopeless. Beaten up. Exhausted. Just. Plain. Defeated.

No one ever told you it’d be this hard. How there would be moments, days even, when you didn’t like being a mama. Days when you couldn’t see past the endless crying, the long nights, the sore arms and back from the non-stop carrying, the power struggles with someone half your size, the feeling of having lost yourself. Days when you couldn’t see past your own tears.

I get why your kids say you go to the bathroom a lot ’cause that’s one of the few places you can hide. Even for just a minute to sob and breathe and splash cool water on your red-rimmed eyes. To let yourself fall apart before you need to pull yourself together again. To remove yourself from the situation because it is just that—a situation. An experience to struggle through and to learn from. Because this mamahood journey has a lot of !@#$% hard situations, and there’s still so much to learn about being a good parent.

You didn’t think it’d be so hard to love your kids. But it is. Not because they aren’t lovable (they are so lovable when they’re sleeping!), but because you’re human. You only have so much energy, attention, and patience to give. That’s why you struggle. But remember this: your child is struggling, too.

She is struggling to grow into her own skin. He is struggling to manage his emotions, his fears and frustrations at feeling helpless in this great big world. They are struggling to learn words, facts, and theories. They are struggling to feel accepted, valued, and loved—especially when they are not acting lovable.

And they are looking to you to help them.

Okay, so that’s not what you wanted to hear. But it’s the truth. You play one of the most important roles in your kid’s life. You’re their mama. The one who gets to witness their tantrums and meltdowns. The one who has more gray hair and wrinkles (and a secret stash of chocolate) than the other parent in the house. You are the one whom they trust enough to bare the darkest, scariest and craziest parts of themselves to.

You’re also the one who got a letter slipped through the crack of the bathroom door the day of the 40 minute meltdown. A letter written from the heart of your little one that made you cry and almost made the craziness you endured worth it.

IMG_4345

There are not enough words to describe how hard parenting is. But there are also not enough words to express how humbling, amazing, and fulfilling it is, too.

So don’t give up. Hang in there, mama. You’re doing all right. Someone even thinks you’re the best. 🙂

Yours truly,

A Struggling Mama (on a good day)

P.S. Do yourself a favor, frame this letter and hang it up in the bathroom for the next time (oh, yep, there will be a next time) you find yourself hiding there. And some chocolate, too. 😉

Here’s Adele’s song, “Remedy”, covered by Sara Marathas. These lyrics remind me of being a mom: “When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool, I promise you will see that I will be, I will be your remedy.”

Who do you trust to bare the darkest, scariest, and craziest parts of yourself to?

Conversations with My 6 Year Old About Growing Up

There are so many children’s books out there in the world; some are strange, many are funny, but only one has had the power to move me to tears. That book is called “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch.

To be honest though, the first time I read it, I thought the author was a little nuts. Let me tell you why. In a nutshell (pun intended, haha), the book follows the journey of a mother and her baby from the time he is born until he is a father himself. Every evening the mother rocks her son to sleep and sings a sweet song that goes:

“I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.”

And when I say she does this every evening, I mean every evening. Even when her son is a 6 foot tall, hairy man living across town, she drives over to his house in the middle of the night. She takes the super long ladder she strapped to the roof of her car and climbs up to his bedroom on the second floor, makes sure he is fully asleep, and takes him in her (very strong) arms and rocks him to this song.

LoveYouForever2

Yup. The counselor part of me totally had a field day psychoanalyzing this scene. 😉 My initial thoughts were: This mom is so codependent, overly attached and unable to let go of her kid. Where are her boundaries?!

It was about nine years ago when I first saw this book at the library. Since then, every time I see it on a shelf, I bypass it because of its “dysfunctional” message. But recently, I finally understood what the author was saying (and now know that he was not nuts when he wrote the book). 🙂

The other day C and I were talking about her upcoming trip to the dentist to have 2 (stubborn) baby teeth pulled. I attempted to allay her fears by going over the procedure and answering her questions. The conversation was going well, and she was staying calm and looking thoughtful when she said something that made my heart drop.

C: “You can stay outside.”

Me: “What?”

C: “You can stay outside. You don’t have to come with me.”

It took a minute for me to register that C was saying she didn’t want me to go into the dentist’s office with her during the procedure. I was supposed to stay outside in the waiting room.

Me: “Are you sure?”

C: “Yes. Stay outside.”

Me: “Aw, my baby’s growing up!”

C: “Mo-om!”

Me: “NOOOOOOO! Okay, I’ll wait outside.”

And that’s when the story of “Love You Forever” came to mind. Because with every ounce of blood pumping in me, as long as I’m living, my babies will always be my babies. I may not be as crazy (or brave) as the mom in the book to break into my kids’ homes when they’re adults and rock them to sleep, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to. (Actually, hubby would probably beat me to it!) But in my heart of hearts, I will always remember E and C as the cute, chunky babies who challenged and inspired me, and ultimately, grew me into the mom I am today.

So, yes, sweet daughter, I know you (and your brother) are growing up and don’t need me as much as before. I just need a little while to catch up to this new reality, so be patient with me. But I (and your Baba) would really appreciate it if you could do us a favor and choose a one story house when you grow up. 😉

Here’s a link to where you can hear “Love You Forever” read to you and view the illustrations as well. (Get the tissues out!)

And we’ll end with Mariah Carey’s song, “Always Be My Baby”. 🙂

When did you realize you (or your kids) were growing up?

Lessons on Letting My Kids Face Challenges

When I met C outside school a few weeks ago, I noticed she wasn’t her usual peppy self. She dragged her feet along the sidewalk like she was trudging through mud, and plopped down on the concrete bench next to me with the weight of the world on her small shoulders. I tried to ask what was wrong, but she only answered me with a pout. It wasn’t until half an hour after we got home that she handed me a note detailing her woes:

IMG_3974

In case you aren’t familiar with first-gradernese, it reads: “I want to change schools before Thursday or skip Friday please. The jacket, it is bad because K said me and L are twins. Thanks, Mei (little sister).”

We proceeded to have a very long (according to E who was patiently waiting for me to help with homework) discussion about the two issues she wrote about. First, she didn’t want to go to school Friday because her class was having a Thanksgiving/Heritage Day potluck, and her teacher said the kids would need to introduce their dishes using the language of their cultural heritage. Keep in mind, C’s first language was Mandarin and she was speaking 11 word sentences by the time she was 18 months old. And I was only planning on making fried rice, which is only 2 words long. But, it’s been a while (sigh!) since either one of the munchkins have spoken Mandarin fluently, so she was pretty anxious about speaking it in front of her teacher, her classmates and their parents.

Now, the second issue involved a new fuzzy purple jacket I bought for her … which happened to be the same fuzzy purple jacket as another girl, L, in her class. As a result, one of her friends, K, started teasing her that she and L were twins, and refused to sit with C at lunch.

Aiya, right?

I thanked C for telling me what was on her mind, and we started troubleshooting the problems one by one. The first one was fairly simple; we practiced saying the words …

Chao Fan (aka. Fried Rice)

Chao Fan (aka. Fried Rice)

throughout the week until she was comfortable with them. It turned out, she didn’t even need to say the dish in Chinese, but it was a good mini lesson anyway. 😉

The latter issue, however, was much more troublesome and worrisome (or rather, trouble-most and worri-most because honestly, it troubled and worried me a lot!). When C told me about K (and also T) not wanting to sit with her, my heart fell. I could only think about the times I was bullied or felt left out as a kid. I absolutely did NOT want C to go through that. My initial reaction (and also hubby’s when I told him about this) was to say, “We’ll get you a new jacket!” Getting a new non-fuzzy non-purple jacket was sure to solve the problem, right? Actually, not right. It might make things better temporarily, but rescuing C from this conflict wouldn’t help her in the long run … especially when she faced another situation like this again.

Sigh. Double SIGH. (This was one of those times I wished some over-protective parent out there would invent a kid-sized bubble cause I’d be the first one to buy it.)

Even though I desperately wanted to take the easy way out to protect my little girl, I took a deep breath and put on my big girl pants. I told C to sit with her other friends for now, and that K would likely stop teasing her after a while. I tried going the logical route and said, “She’s being silly. Doesn’t she know you all wear the same clothes (uniforms) already?” She replied with an even more logical answer, “Yeah, how can we be twins? We don’t even look the same.” (No kidding, L is blonde!)

LOL. You go, girl! 🙂

This was when I knew she would be okay. Fuzzy purple jacket aside, C is learning how to think for herself and to stand strong in the face of  challenges. It’s definitely not pleasant for me to watch her experience these growing pains, but I’m thankful I can walk alongside her and help her through them. ‘Cause that’s what my job as her mom is about. I can’t put her in a bubble or prevent her from getting scraped and bruised. But I can be there to sit with her, tend to her wounds, and nudge her back into the world … loved and lifted up and stronger than before.

I love the passion in this song by Demi Lovato, “Skyscraper”. It’s all about rising above our circumstances and standing strong in the face of challenges.

Who or what has helped you stand strong in the face of challenges?