Parenting 101

Kidding. There is no ‘Parenting 101’. If parenting was written like a manual – if that were even remotely possible – it would not only be the easiest job/role to do in the world, but it would also probably lack in how rewarding the experience would be.

There’s no manual, no instructions and most advice will not work outside the ‘this is how you test if the bath temperature isn’t too hot’ – mainly, it’s about a lot of listening, thinking, communicating and using one’s gut instincts to navigate around obstacles and much growing pains (for both child and parent alike).

Personally, I also rely on my own experience. I try, really, really try (with many failed attempts along the way) to remember what it was like to be my daughter’s age. Ahh… it’s so not as easy as it sounds. Believe me I get more non-parents who think they have the answers of ‘how they would do it’ but until one becomes a parent, they do not realize many answers are not as black and white as they appear. And being an aunt/uncle does not count. Most parents I know understand this – and all they can do is nod with empathy. They may share their own story if they have a similar one to whatever problem I may be facing but it comes with the unspoken words, ‘take what you can get from my story… and good luck!’

Being a parent of a teen girl – and never having the experience of raising a teen – I’ve REALLY had to search back down memory lane to remember all the emotions I went through as a teen. What I have discovered is that being a teen is a bitch. I’ve triggered so many emotions – a roller coaster of them. Oh I am so glad being a teen is just one phase in my life. While I do have some great memories, there are many other eras of my life I’d rather live through again (all of them being past my teen years).

An area I am treading carefully with at the moment, well… is a teen’s love life. I recall how strict my parents were with me. First, I was not allowed to have a boyfriend until I was at least 18 years old.

So what did I do? I had a boyfriend at 14, 15 and 17. They didn’t know any of them because I knew they would not approve.

Then as I approached 18 and was about to prepare myself to tell them about my then boyfriend, I was told I had to wait until I was in university. Seriously?

So what did I do next? I would sneak out at 2am to meet my secret boyfriend.

My mom also told me not to have sex until I was married.

Yeah, well… that wasn’t going to take. While I was still technically a virgin, I definitely was sexually active. I lost my virginity in my early 20’s.

One thing I learned from my own experience growing up as a teen – there’s just such things a parent can not control. We can place rules, curfews and expectations (which really amount to teaching our daughter what team work involves in our household – we all pull our own weight). But to tell them not to have a boyfriend/girlfriend is like asking them to never have a crush or attraction. To tell them when they can be sexually active is like us trying to control their bodies.

My daughter’s friends have extremely strict parents. For example, one of them is not allowed to invite boys over. EVER. Even while the parents are home. So, the daughter does not invite any boys over. However, her parents probably have no idea she has had a boyfriend for most the school year. Even I know who he is (my daughter tells me everything in confidence). I mind my own business. There you have it though. I would prefer not only to know my daughter has a boyfriend – but also have him come over to our house so I can meet him and get to know him. Home advantage is an advantage for a reason.

I am not stupid – I see the stubbornness in my daughter. She comes by it honestly from both my husband and myself. She is strong-minded and she’s going to make her own decisions as she sees fit.

And so I decided to do whatever I can to keep the communication open – I figured so long as she’s aware of the risks she is taking when she decides to have a serious boyfriend, when she decides to be sexually active, etc., she will hopefully make the best decision for her. Much of it in then end involves a bit of faith. And maybe a prayer or two.

As a parent, it’s not even about worrying whether or not she will practice safer sex. My hope is for her emotions to be protected. I want her to be doing it purely for herself and I hope her first time will not be regretted in anyway. Sure I’d rather her wait – isn’t it ideal to wait until one is in love with their partner? It’s not necessary – but personally, it’s what is preferred.

But… I can’t control her future. Just like my parents could not control mine.

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Love and Death – my ramblings

We’ve recently lost a very dear family friend of ours. She was like a second grandmother to me while growing up. Her two daughters, both being fantastic artists, created a beautiful memorial page for their beloved mother.

While reading the words they wrote about her mother’s life, I was reminded how she knew her husband for almost 50 years before she lost him to cancer. 18 years later (this past December) she was diagnosed with cancer herself.

Eighteen years. To be with one’s true love for decades and then have to live the last couple of decades without him.

On a daily basis, I do not think of this, of course. However, unfortunately, it’s times like these where I wonder if I could have the strength she had after losing her husband who she loved dearly.

Sure, my husband can drive me crazy with his little quirks (as I’m sure I drive him crazy with my own quirks), but I will say, without hesitation, I love him with all my heart. He is my best friend, my anchor and my lover through and through. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with anyone else.

The family friend of ours missed him every single day of her life after her husband passed on but she did not give up the will to live. She continued to dance, to travel, to spend time with her daughters and grandchildren. She stayed active!

Honestly, I pray I will half half her strength should I ever find myself in the same situation as her later in life.

K-Pop Idols Interacting With One Another and Our Fascination with Being a Witness

As a k-pop fan, one obvious behavior I have been following is our fascination with watching how k-pop idols interact with other k-pop idols outside of their group. It’s not exactly too hard to be a witness to these interactions from a very light-surface level.

YouTube alone has a crazy upload of fan-made clips. Obviously, these are small moments caught on camera, usually at award shows – whether it be a small gesture as a handshake or something more where two idols appear to be engaged in a deep conversation on the side. Everything is not only caught on film but analyzed to death by k-pop fans. Fans will draw their own conclusion of what is going on which I find amusing – because none of us really know what’s going on. None of us have a clue if it’s all for show or for real.

Never-the-less, the fascination-part from fans is interesting to me and made me question why we want these interactions to mean something more than what they probably really are.

For one, I think it’s just very human nature for us to gossip. This nature of ours probably stems from us wanting to belong to the bigger community. Which is a secondary emotion for feeling secure, stemming from our survival instincts (‘greater in numbers’). This is not something that is uncommon across any fan-base of favorite celebrities. And to us, this fantasy-like gossiping feels safer than gossiping about real life people. It’s a way for us to drive our need to gossip at a safe level.

Is it safe, though? I think it could be if we keep it light and off-line. We need to understand we have no idea what is really going on. And if we’re ‘shipping’ idols together and then causing rumors they are dating, this can go viral extremely quickly. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with this phenomenon because once put online, rumors spread rapidly and I believe there’s too much risk of it hurting the idol. Talk among the privacy with friends of ‘what if’ and ‘imagine this’ but keep it off the public platform – that would be the safest bet!

I also think our connection with k-pop idols is more intimate than connections between the usual celebrity to fan-base. I won’t go into this further because I believe that is a whole different discussion. There is a dark side to what I have seen with the vicious cycle created by the k-pop industry for their idols to connect with their fans and for their fans to reciprocate back to the idols.

I will, however, focus on the positive side for now. When this intimate connection is done in a more moderate, balanced and healthier way, I see the fan-base worrying about their idols.

We worry why they fainted. We worry if they are getting enough rest. We worry they are losing too much weight and going on dangerous diets. We worry about their self-esteem. We worry about their level of happiness. We worry they are depressed or lonely or overly stressed and anxious. These are nothing to be ashamed about. Worrying for another human being, regardless of whether we actually know them or not, is never a bad thing. If we do not have compassion in us, we would be fucked on a much global scale.

And so I think we take comfort in seeing them interact with those outside of their own group and company. There’s still a bit of sadness they might not have much of a choice to make/keep friends outside the industry but to see them at least creating friendships at some level is better than nothing.

Variety shows and talk shows often have more than one k-pop idol as guests. It’s no wonder why these shows are so popular – they know what they want. And it gives fans a glimpse of what their idol life is like, especially if a talk show is able to get the idols to discuss and compare similarities of living with their members. The clip about RM and Suho comparing leadership stories on Problematic Men comes to mind (with bonus clip of how Suho nags Sehun like a mom):

As for variety shows, my favorite was watching Jooheon (MONSTA X) and Jackson Wang (GOT7) on Celeb Bros. There were several parts over two separate meet-ups but I’ll embed just the few I think is most significant at showing their budding friendship:

And then sometime later, they meet up again and we get to see a different comfort level between the two. This had me cracking up so bad! They argue like an old married couple! :p

So are these ‘bromance’ all an act or are they real? I don’t know – it’s not easy to say how scripted they are or not.

I do recall during end of MONSTA X-ray Season 1, all members were given 2 hours of free time so long as they went off on their own. Jooheon hopped in a cab and immediately asked to be taken to JYP Studios. On the way there, he was trying to call Jackson Wang.

For their sake, I hope these friendships are real.

Stir Fry of Emotions – Fighting the Stigma

stigma

I was on a business trip not long ago. We had a 3.5 day annual company conference filled with key-note speakers, company information and team building.

One of the team building was quite emotional. We broke out into small groups of 8-10 people and had to discuss our highest and lowest moments of our lives.

Ouch. Not easy. It’s sometimes difficult to even come clean with friends and family. But to be vulnerable in front of co-workers is a different level all together.

Yet, I decided to go first… I told my group, with a quick apology of not-so-pleasant news I was about to disperse, of my suicidal state a few years ago.

There’s one thing I have learned, dealing with anxiety disorder and depression – it’s a battle to break through the stigma on a daily basis. And it’s so easy not to realize the person next to you is suffering mental illness. I just read 2 of the 3 main symptoms of depression can not be seen so most people are walking around with no support, no treatment and at the risk of falling deeper into the hole.

It is NOT easy to talk about myself out in the open.

So what pushed me?

Knowing if I can open up and just not care of what will be said behind my back (should that happen it would be out of my control), will help one person who is suffering alone hear what I have to say, which may lead to that person getting help, well, it’s worth it.

I not only talked about what I went through – but about how I got help. And while it did not get rid of my anxiety and depression, as there are triggers everywhere which will not cease in my lifetime, I at least know how to get help now. I was able to talk about something extremely important:

HOPE.

It’s not as easy as I’m painting it. But should my words give even a glimmer of hope to the one suffering beside me, isn’t the vulnerability worth it?

It’s Official – I’ve Lost My Mind

 

Oh. My. GOD!!!

So I just emailed this private dance studio not far from my work place. I’ve been searching for hip-hop classes for my daughter and I’ve found a lot of these private dance studios that not only do hip-hop but dabble in k-pop hip-hop.

The only challenge was finding most places create ‘teams’ for actual amateur dance competitions.

Heeeell NO!!! So not what she is looking for! She just wants to do this for fun.

This studio has a drop-in class schedule with classes ranging from Level 0 to Level 2. Obviously, Level 0 meant for beginners. Though I have an inkling it’s not going to be filled with beginners. As always, you’re going to find a class filled with a variety of levels depending how long people have been dropping in on said class. Still, you can either pay as you go ($15 per class) or buy 12, 24, 48 classes per card, thereby saving more money in the end. I’m sure there’s a time limit. For example, all 12 classes must be taken within a 6 month period. It’s still promising though – there’s at least 2 or 3 beginner classes each week to choose from. And it allows some flexibility with our schedule.

It peaked my curiosity, alright? And you know what they say. Curiosity killed the Cat.

I’m not saying I’m going to die. But my body is not like what it used to be so. So yeah. I’ve decided I’m going to do this with my daughter.

I’m both excited and nervous. More excited than nervous. I mean, if history should repeat itself, I’ve often been able to catch on with new choreography. The nervousness is just based on the fact I have not taken any dance classes for so long. The last time I did was to learn Latin Ballroom.

Of course, I’ll update my progress here but – wish me luck! My daughter will not have time to do this until after her science project is done and she really wants us to do this together! I think it will be fun. 🙂