Category: Parenting

Alexa: 18 Months Update

My darling daughter, you’ve grown so much since the last update I wrote for you 10 months ago.

During this time, your personality has truly blossomed and I love learning more about who you are.

Mostly, you are exceedingly sweet and gentle. You love to give me the snuggles that I craved from Max when he was your age. You will crawl into my lap and just lie there while I can stroke you.

You have the softest smile, accompanied by your tinkling, wind-chime giggle.

And nothing could have prepared me for just how girly you are turning out to be! It wasn’t until I had two children – a boy and a girl – that I understood how gender differences can be so innate.

I also can’t look at you without seeing myself – both the good and the bad.

Your dad and I are often in disbelief by how similar you are to me. Especially when he sees your attitude. We’re lucky that your dad loves seeing the baby “me!”

Anyway, you have my petite bone structure, high forehead, fine hair, and small features. Incredibly, our teeth structure is identical – two large central incisors (i.e. buck teeth) with small lateral incisors and large, needle-sharp canines.

The good is, you will always look younger than you are. You’ll hate it, at first, but come to appreciate it after college. It takes awhile for it to become a good thing.

The bad is, you have my fierce temper. On the outside, you might look sweet and innocent but you have one of those tempers where you don’t give a crap about anything when you’re mad.  This is also something that improves as you get older – if you want to have friends and to get married, that is.

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Race: Lessons from a Three-Year Old

It all started innocuously enough.

I was doing work on my laptop while Max played nearby. I am an attorney so I had to search for a law firm’s contact information. After a quick Google search, I found the firm’s website. I clicked on the link and was immediately greeted by a row of middle-aged white men in suits with big smiles, one of them cradling a distinction award of some kind.

I couldn’t help but mutter, “Well, that’s a lot of white men.”

Max, being three years old and inquisitive about literally every damn thing, perked up and asked, “What white men?”

Crap.

On the other hand, I realized, this is the perfect teachable moment!

I think we can all agree that we live in tumultuous times, whichever side of the political spectrum you may fall. And race can’t help but be in the forefront of my thoughts these days, with all the talks about the Muslim ban and Mexico border wall. You see, I am Asian-American. And in America, that means I have always been a minority.

So race matters.

I sometimes forget about race, living in NYC, one of the most diverse areas of the county. There are even places where I look around and everyone is Asian or Asian-American. But travel outside the metropolitan area and I become far more race-conscious, by necessity.

As a minority, I have to be even more acutely aware of the importance of raising tolerant children that embrace diversity and multiculturalism.

So back to Max. I had him sit on my lap while I Googled some images for race + diversity where I come across a picture collage featuring people of all different races, genders, ages, and orientation.

The entire time, I am secretly patting myself on the back for using this as an opportunity to introduce him to the concept of race.

I pointed to the following picture:

And I asked, “Which of these people do you think looks most like you?”

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Color Has No Gender

max-color-has-no-gender

A few weeks ago, I was at a birthday party for a friend’s daughter. It was held indoors with games and activities for all of the kids. As part of the festivities, the party organizer started handing out different colored feather boas to the children, ages ranging from 2-4. When she approached Max, with a stream of bright-colored boas, she asked Max what color he wanted. He told her purple, at which point, she responded, “You can’t have purple. That’s a girl’s color.”

Luckily, a close friend within earshot (I was not) told the organizer that my son loves purple. Ultimately, and reluctantly, she conceded and handed him a purple feather boa.

Max ran merrily off, oblivious to her discrimination.

What the party organizer does not know is that I have suspected that Max loved purple since before he could speak when he consistently favored his purple-colored toys. And what the party organizer does not know is that as soon as he could say the word purple, he has always told us that his favorite color is, in fact, purple.

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Lessons from Daniel the Tiger

lessons-from-daniel-the-tiger

As any parent with more than one kid knows, sharing can be a big issue among siblings.

Max is fickle when it comes to sharing with Alexa. Some days he’s great, other days not so much.

Well, the other day, we were watching an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood about Daniel the Tiger having issues sharing with his baby sister, Margaret. Dad Tiger comes over and explains to Daniel that he should try sharing with his sister because they might have more fun by playing together. Dad Tiger explains it by singing, “Sharing with you is fun for me too.

I thought it was the perfect jingle to remind Max to share with his sister. So I had everyone sing it a few times.

I secretly patted myself on the back for being an awesome mom at teaching life lessons.

A few hours later, we all went out to the supermarket. I bought myself a box of chocolate Belvitas for breakfast. Max must have been eyeing it the entire way because, the second we arrived home, he grabbed the box and demanded to have some.

I told him absolutely not! It was close to his dinner time and I never planned on giving him any of my Belvitas in the first place.

So Max comes up to me and puts a hand on my shoulder (I’m squatting down to put away the groceries). He looks at me all wide-eyed and with a very earnest expression on his face. I have no idea what’s about to hit me. Then he opens his mouth and starts to sing, “Sharing with you is fun for me too. Sharing with you is fun for me too. Sharing with you is fun for me too.”

Let’s just say, he got the Belvitas.

6 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Adjust to a New Sibling

Ways to Help Your Firstborn Adjust to a New SiblingOne of the main reasons I wanted to have two kids close in age is because I hope Max and Alexa grow up to be the best of friends. Of course I know that closeness in age is no guarantee of a close relationship. So I also try to do everything in my power to help ease the transition for Max from being an only child to having a sibling.

Prior to giving birth to Alexa, I asked everyone I met who had a younger sibling (both my husband and I are the youngest in our family so we have no concept of being an older sibling): How should I treat Max so that he has minimal resentment when Alexa is born?

1. Be Mindful of Fairness

The prevailing answer was to treat them both fairly. There is a natural tendency to protect the younger and “weaker” child, the baby.

However, after Alexa was born, we were always mindful that the same rules we have for Max apply to Alexa as well. Of course she doesn’t understand what we are saying but we make it a point to tell her things like:

  • Alexa, don’t hit your brother, say sorry!
  • Don’t put your feet up on the table!
  • We just got home, time to wash your hands!

I have noticed that Max is very observant as to how we treat Alexa and I can tell that it’s helped him to know that she has to follow the same house rules.

6 Tips on Helping Your Firstborn Adjust to a New Sibling-2

2. Teach Responsibility

We incorporate Max, whenever possible, into helping take care of Alexa. During diaper changes, he loves to bring us her diaper, wipes, and lotion. When Alexa gets upset during car rides, we ask him to sing songs or hand toys to her to help calm her down.

We always tell Max that he is the older brother and it’s his job to protect and take care of his younger sister. But when Alexa is old enough, we will let them both know that it’s their job as siblings to take care of and protect each other.

6 Tips on Helping Your Firstborn Adjust to a New Sibling

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