Philadelphia Heartbreak – It Starts Early

Big has a plan to keep Shorty close to home even when he’s grown.  He’s been sitting him down and teaching him how to love our local sports teams.  He figures if he gets Shorty hooked he’ll never want to move too far from us.

This year seemed like the prime time to really get Shorty started.  He’s five now and better able to understand what’s actually happening when he watches the games.  Plus this was supposed to be the year when one of our teams was going to win it all.  Back in the spring the Philadelphia Phillies were called the Dream Team.  Nothing was going to stop them this year.

Big took Shorty to his first live sporting event in July to see that Dream Team.  Shorty loved it!  He couldn’t stop talking about the Phillies and their mascot the Phanatic.  Big and Shorty had fun watching our Phils all season.  Big went all out a few weeks ago and spend a small fortune on fourth row seats right down the third base line.  Shorty got to meet Becca the Ball Girl.  She even gave him a signed baseball card.  The Phillies won the game that night to become the NL East Champs.  It was a grand night.

The Phils won 102 games and finished first.  Things were looking great.  But as anyone who is a Philadelphia sports fan can tell you all that means nothing once the playoffs start.

We had high hopes.  The Phils were supposed to sweep the Cardinals.  But the unthinkable happened.  The Phillies lost game five and their dream season came to an ugly end.

And that’s when it happened … Shorty lost it.  He cried and started throwing things.  He was kicking and punching and was so disappointed.  It took a long time for Big to calm him down.  When Shorty finally calmed down he was so exhausted he fell right to sleep.

Big and I were a little surprised by his reaction.  We had no idea he was taking this whole Phillies thing so seriously.  But I should have known.  When Shorty loves something he throws all of himself into it.  He is a very emotional child and his feelings run very deep.  He had rooted for the Phillies.  They were HIS team.  He took their loss hard.

As if that’s not bad enough the Eagles (the other team they were calling the dream team) are 1-4 and playing like crap.  Shorty is really getting a dose of what it’s like to be a sports fan in this town.  I can only hope his skin grows tougher or it’s going to be a long, disappointing life for him (and us) …

Either that or Big’s plan is going to blow up in his face.  Shorty might get sick of the heartbreak and move some place where the sports teams win more than once every 25 years.

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School Form Update

I want to thank all the people who gave me advice and opinions regarding the question asking us to numerically label my child’s racial category on the Kindergarten registration forms.  After reading all that everyone had to say I see things from the school’s side a little better than I did before.  This is not to say I’m any less annoyed by the numbering thing, but I am ready to look at it less emotionally.

I did call the school and ask why they want us to number the order in which we want the races to be entered.  The person I talked to had no idea for the reasoning behind it.  I decided to just let it drop rather than ask to speak to someone else who might know.  She did mentioned that if I leave it blank they will probably have to choose one to enter first.

Big and I talked about it.  He’s not as upset by this question as I am.  But then again I find he gets less upset than I by the few incidences regarding race that our family has encountered.  He believes that his skin has gotten tougher due to years of dealing with race issues while I am still a newbie at it all.  He probably has a valid point.  It could also be that I am a far more emotional person than he and tend to vent my frustrations, disappointments, and disbelief more openly than Big.

In any case, here is what we decided to do.  I checked off Asian and white but did not number them.  I asked one more time about this when I went to turn the papers in.  I was told to leave it the way I put it and write a little note stating that I prefer not to number the races since Shorty is equally both.  I was told they would call me if there was a problem with that.  So far I have heard nothing.

When Big and I discussed this topic we decided that if we had to choose one of the races to be listed first, at least in this instance, we would list Asian first.  Why Asian some of you might be wondering?  If, as we suspect, the numbering is to help determine demographics and funding for the district then marking Shorty as Asian may help our district get more minority funding or possibly programs for children who may need it.  That’s not a bad thing.  Also, in case they track the demographics for several years to determine educational programs that might be beneficial for the students we figure having Shorty marked as Asian could help lead to future classes in Mandarin or Asian cultural studies.  With China becoming the next world Superpower classes in Mandarin could benefit all the students in our district.

I’m not sure how valid any of our reasons truly are or how misguided they may be but that’s what we decided.  So, maybe I’ll get a call from the school and maybe I won’t.  I have a suspicion that someone will just choose for us without letting us know the choice.  I also suspect that they may choose Asian since it is listed first both on the form and alphabetically and because many people still feel that if a person is mixed you categorize them in the minority race.  Since Big and I would have chosen Asian first anyway I’m okay with that.  But by not numbering Shorty’s race and leaving the little note on the form I am hoping that it will at least trigger something in the school district that leads to a discussion of how they can improve upon racially categorizing their mixed students.  Or at least I can hope that is the case.

Posted in Children, Family, Multiculturalism, Parenting, Race, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Race – Now It’s Gone Too Far

Maybe it’s me but does anyone else feel like all the racial categorizing in this country has gone too far?  Yesterday I encountered another taste of what those who are biracial have to deal with in a world that is far too obsessed with labeling everyone according to the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes.

Shorty will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.  Our school system has its registration week coming up in early March.  I’ve begun filling out the pages and pages of information that the school requires so my son can sit in one of their classrooms and get his education.  Right there on page one I was faced with the most ridiculous question I have ever seen.  (Or at least it seems to me.)

It started out innocently enough.  The question had to do with race.  “Please check all that apply.”  Okay, I have no problem with that.  I’ll be checking Asian and White because, well, that’s what Shorty is.  I understand the logic behind allowing people to choose more than one race as we now have so many who come from more than one racial background.

But then I read this:  “Please number in the order you would like them entered.”  (Them being the race(s) checked off.)   So, I now have to choose whether I consider my son more Asian or more white.  Excuse my language but … WHAT THE FUCK?!!!  My son is 50% Asian and 50% white.  Do I toss a coin and place the number one next to the race that wins the coin toss?

I’m rather perplexed and offended by this part of the form.  How does one who is equally bi-racial choose which of their identity to place first?  My son is not even five.  He doesn’t really even understand race past the point that some people have darker skin than others.  He certainly shouldn’t have to choose which race he identifies with at this time in his life (or ever for that matter if he doesn’t want.)  As his mother I shouldn’t be forced to choose which of his racial backgrounds I want to be listed first on some stupid form.  If I put white in the number one position my husband could say he is offended.  If I put Asian in the first position then I might will be offended.  Besides why oh why (unless it’s for medical purposes) does anyone have to be labeled by their race?

I should think asking people to list all their racial categories would be sufficient enough.  Making people choose which of those categories they think comes first is insulting.  To me that’s like asking our family whether we think more highly of the Asian side or the white side of our families.  Yes, people may look at my child, especially white people, and think he looks more Asian than white but that does not mean his white side is any less on the number scale than his Asian side.  To mark Asian as the race that should be entered first on some form simply because some people might think my son looks more Asian is like saying my genes don’t count.  Besides, I’m sure if you were to ask any Asian person who saw my son and had no idea who his parents were they would easily tell you that this child is absolutely a mix because his hair, skin, and some of his features obviously have white genes in them.  But to mark white as the number one race would be equally ludicrous.  So, I guess one could say my son doesn’t fall more or less into either race depending on whom you ask.

Why this need then on this form to force parents to number the race they want to be listed first?  Is it because the computer program being used won’t make exceptions and insists on ordering things?  (Then change the program being used please.)  Is it because somewhere down the line if my child should qualify for scholarships or some other program he will only qualify if one or the other race is listed as his first race?  Or is it just that this stupid world of ours still can’t accept that people don’t always fit nicely into categories but some people can’t accept that and insist we choose a category anyway?

I’m so annoyed by this that I haven’t numbered either race.  I’m seriously considering calling the school to complain.  The only thing stopping me is because I don’t want my son to be known as the kid whose mom made a big stink about the Kindergarten registrations forms before he even has a chance to make his own impression and be known for something all his own.

Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?  Should I just toss that coin and number the race categories?  As the mother of a child who is half another race am I the one who is just being sensitive?  Is it because deep in my heart I know that in our predominantly white district my kid is probably going to be seen by most as more Asian and maybe a part of me is feeling sad that others don’t identify the child I carried in my body the same as me?

This one stupid question has opened a whole can of worms for me.  It’s just another thing in my journey of motherhood that I never expected to have to think about.  I’m wondering if there are other mothers out their who are filling out forms just like this one and having the same negative reaction to being asked to number their child’s racial identity in this way.

I’ll put the question out there to all of you … do you think I’m crazy for getting so bent out of shape for being asked to number the order in which my son is racially categorized when he is 50% one race and 50% another race?  Do you feel asking parents to number the order in which they want their child’s race to be entered even necessary, especially since the form already asks us to check off all the races that apply?

Posted in Children, Family, Multiculturalism, Parenting, Race, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

The Final Answer Is …

Nope, we’re not going to China.  It’s a long, complicated story.  Things got ugly.  I won’t go into details.  Trust me you don’t want to know anyway.  The end result is we’re staying in the United States.

Last week was a bad week all the way around.  Trouble with the kid, trouble with the spouse.  I’d like to forget last week even existed.

In other news … headaches.  I’ve had one EVERY DAY for about four weeks now, maybe longer.  I want to rip my head off and throw it away.

But hey look the sun’s finally out and we’re experiencing warmer weather here on the east coast.  I can actually see some grass and my bushes are no longer covered with snow.  I guess that means I had better go defrock aforementioned bushes of Christmas lights.  Yes, folks, you read that correctly.  We still have our Christmas lights on the bushes.  Do I feel bad … nope.  Know why?  Because the neighbors across the street, the ones who are on the schedule that everyone else follows, still have their lights on, the garland still on the porch railings, and candy canes lining the walkway.  I know you all  have those neighbors too; the ones who put their lights up the day after Christmas and take them down on January 1st.  So, if THEY still have Christmas decorations out I can’t possibly feel bad about my lights still being on the bushes.  I did take the wreaths out of our windows at least.

And so now I have officially wasted enough time telling you pretty much nothing.  I will drag myself to the cleaning caddy and start cleaning this filthy house.

Posted in China, Random Thoughts, This and That | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Under Construction

I’m once again changing the theme on my blog.  Please excuse me while I spend the next few days playing around and changing the look.  Some things I normally have on my side bars may be missing until I have the time to replace them, update them, etc.  It’ll all sort itself out in a bit.  Until then don’t mind the chaos.

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What Would You Do?

Today’s dilemma … If it’s not completely clear that my spouse will garner any career gains from working in China, is giving my child a better education and possibly a more global outlook on life a good enough reason to move the whole clan to Shanghai?

It’s all a mystery.  At this time the move to China would be a lateral move for my husband’s career.  He’s not gaining a better salary or position and there is no guarantee that after two years he will gain those things.  He might, but then again he might not.  It can’t hurt his career but it may not do anything to improve upon it.

Moving to China would very likely mean that my child would get an education in an International school which would equate to sending him to a high-end private school here and my husband’s company would be helping to pay part of the tuition  (which would not happen if he went to school here).  He’d also get to go to school in a place where only half the children are American.  This would mean he would get to meet people from around the world who, like us, took a chance on living in China.  He’d also learn Mandarin and as anyone who hasn’t had their heads buried in the sand knows China seems to be poised to become possibly the next Superpower.  Speaking Mandarin and learning China’s culture by living there could be a huge advantage for my son later in life when he is competing with the world for a job.

Certainly, the transition would be grueling and there is always the chance that we could hate it there and be stuck for two years.  We’d miss family terribly (me more than anyone I suspect).  Of course, once we get over the initial cultural shock it might turn out to be an exciting adventure that could enrich our lives on a personal level.  Who knows?  As I said it’s all a mystery.  So many unknowns.  So much to be scared of.

So my question to you is this … would you take the risk if you had no idea that this would improve your life professionally or personally?  Would you move to Shanghai if you thought it had the potential to give your child a future advantage in life?

Discuss.

Posted in Changes, China, Family, Parenting, Relocating | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

China, Really?

Okay folks so some exciting things going on here and I’m a jumble of anxious panic.  (I know, what else is new right?)

So yesterday I turned the big 4-0.  (Yikes!)  That should be drama and anxiety-ridden enough for anyone, right?  But of course, life is never what we expect.  My husband was in Germany.  Yes, that’s right my husband was not even home on my fortieth.  (Yeah, it sucked but nothing we haven’t adapted to with his current work life.  And yes, he more than made up for it with his gift.  Can you say sparkly things for my ears?)  But being in Germany was not the dramatic part.  At 7:30am he called me to not only wish me a happy birthday but to warn me not to panic when I checked my phone and saw his text messages.  (Now you’re really curious, aren’t you?)

Of course I had to run to get my phone to see what I shouldn’t panic about.  Ready?

From Big:  I think I can set myself up for major opportunities in China …  Long story short, major need in China … key stakeholders here … It would be a major setup on the other side if we actually went through with it … I’ll call you later to fill you in whether this is real or talk.

From me:  Simple question – would we have to move to China or would you just be traveling there?

From Big:  dunno, likely two year assignment with contract that allows return.

Now do you understand why my fortieth birthday was more anxiety-ridden and filled with drama than I anticipated?  He spoke briefly with the region owner as well as with someone whose position is just under the board and is driving the whole China intiative and basically they want him there.  Next week he has a meeting to learn more about the prospects and logistics.

In the meantime, he’s trying really hard to convince me that this would be a great experience and I’m trying my best to not completely breakdown.  I am in no way prepared for two years of living in China.  I do not speak the language.  I love Chinese food but both my son and I have bodily system revolts after only a few days of a steady diet of Chinese food ( I know this from visiting my in-laws).  My son is supposed to be starting kindergarten this fall.  I have no idea how a move like this would effect that.  This would be a monumental cultural change.

Of course, I’ve already been online to do some research.  Of all the things I’ve read here’s what I can’t keep my mind from lingering on:

1.  They drive like crazy maniacs.  There are frequent accidents that often result in angry (sometimes violent) arguments in the street while those involved haggle over monetary recompense.  Foreigners often lose these arguments and are taken for lots of cash.  There are no seat belts in the back of their vehicles and pretty much no one uses child safety seats.  (Hello, my son is four and only weighs 35 lbs.)

2.  Child abduction (especially of boys) can be common in certain areas.  There is little help from law enforcement if your child is abducted.

3.  All the incidences of low quality, untested, black market (and often not black mark), possibly lead contaminated items that have come out China have me worried about the safety of anything we might purchase while living there.

4.  There are all these things over there that I might do that I have no idea are illegal because I can’t read, write, or speak the language and if I’m arrested there is little the American government can do to help me.

5.  Healthcare – what kind of healthcare are we going to get if one of us gets hurt or really sick.  You know since there are all these car accidents with no seat belts and child seats it might be good to know what our chances of finding good medical care is.

6.  Pollution in China is horrible.

Now couple that with my anxieties over:

1.  Being in a strange country with no family or friends (Dudes, I live an hour and a half from my parents and closest friends and I already hate the distance.) while not being able to communicate.

2.  How in God’s name will education work for my child?  What will it cost?  How will he handle the strange environment?  When the two years are over how will he handle re-assimilating back into our cultural and educational system?  Will he fit in anywhere?

3.  What the hell am I going to do with this house and all our possessions for two years?  Sell the house (in a really horrific market that might take forever to sell and we might not get a great price)?  Keep it, leave it uninhabited and hope no one robs us blind?  Keep it, and rent it out and hope the people renting don’t destroy it?  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

4.  And what about my family?  My grandmother is going to be 90 in a month.  What if she dies while I’m in China?  My dad will be 70 this summer and my mom65.  What if they need help?  Not to mention my brother gives them enough to worry about without them worrying about me too.

5.  Then there is me.  What the hell am I going to do in China?  What if I hate it and am lonely?  It’s not like I will be able to just leave and come home to the states with a kid in school.

I’m trying to be supportive of Big’s possible career changing opportunity but really isn’t there another way to really get him set up for bigger and better things?  Why China?

I’m trying not to get too freaked out. (I know, you would never know that by everything I’ve written so far.)  Anyone know anything about China?  Can you put a more positive spin on this for me?  Please, pretty please.

Posted in Changes, Family, Husband, Relocating | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments