The Ballad of No Baby Brother (#274)

I have a lot of relatives with Asperger’s and Adult Residual Asperger’s. Same for my Chinese-American husband. I was prepared for our child to be, at the very least, a little introverted.

Baby D was not. Baby D craved human interaction. He never liked playing with toys by himself. He was fascinated by other children. Once he was mobile, he enjoyed swim classes with other kids, playdates, and even Childwatch at the local YMCA.

When I hovered while dropping him off at his first day of preschool, my three-year-old waved a dismissive hand and said, “You go now, Mommy.”

Baby D’s favorite kids were the older kids on the block. These kids were anywhere from 3-6 years older than Baby D, but he was immediately welcomed into their group. Block Leader A was thrilled to have another player to flesh out imaginary worlds, while Baby D embraced his roles as head of security/ sheriff/ stormtrooper (anything that gave him a weapon).

Baby D loved his neighborhood friends more than anything. The minute he heard them outside, he clamored to join them.

“But we’re about to have dessert,” I’d say. “Don’t you want chocolate cake?”

“My friends are the best dessert!” Baby D declared—to the utter befuddlement of his foodie parents. We would have no peace until he was charging down the block to play “Town” or film videos.

Some of the worst temper tantrums Baby D ever threw were when we had to drag him home for bed while other kids were still playing.

As much as he loved other kids, we shouldn’t have been surprised when four-year-old Baby D announced, “I want a brother.”

I said, “Hahaha, I just got some of my life back and you start kindergarten next year, NO.”

Baby D said, “Please, Mommy?”

“Sweetie, a baby brother is not like you think. He wouldn’t be able to play with you for years. And he would take up all Mommy and Daddy’s attention, just like you once did.”

“I want a Baby Brother. I don’t care.”

“Trust me, you would care. You would have to share everything, including your room.”

“I will share! I will share my I soft blankey with him. And I will share all my stuffed animals, and I will save him if there is a fire and, and, and I will share soft blankey with him.”

Andy asked, “What if it’s a girl?”

“It won’t be a girl.”

“It might be.”

“It won’t be!” Baby D insisted. “Right, Mommy?”

“Right,” I agreed. “It would be another boy, contrary and energetic and non-napping and exhausting, just like you, which is why we are not giving you a baby brother.”

Baby D harangued us about a brother for months. Until his Redheaded Baby Cousin came to visit.

Redheaded Baby Cousin was about six months old, daughter of my youngest, most infamous Boyfriend-Stealing Sister and her new California Husband. They were visiting her in-laws and came by for an afternoon with us.

Since I was absolutely, positively done with babies unless their parents needed me to hold them while they ate, I hired Baby D’s Favorite Teen Babysitter. We adults went out to dinner. We adults had a lovely time.

Baby D did not. Our four-year-old was fuming when we returned. His favorite sitter turned out to be a total baby hog. She carried the baby everywhere, cooing. Her games with Baby D were half-hearted. She outlawed the usual Nerf Wars, lest the infant get injured.

Once our relatives and the sitter left (with one last coo), I asked Baby D how he liked his cousin.

“I do not like her! She is noisy! She is noisy all the time! And obnoxious! She can’t do anything! And she got all the attention! I do not like Redheaded Baby!” he ranted. Before I could point out the obvious, Baby declared, “I do not want a baby brother!”

Andy, smothering laughter, could not resist asking, “You sure?”

“Yes! I do not want a baby brother!” he reiterated, with a glare at his father. “I want a cat!”

Good call, Baby D.

Felines & Persuasion (#273)

My child was always fascinated by cats.

My cats were only fascinated by my child when he was an immobile source of warmth. The minute he developed enough motor control to grab their fur, the cats were out.

Bat Cat and Commando Cat had been my pampered bachelorette cats. They grudgingly adapted to both husband and rescue dogs. But small fingers pulling fur? Hell no. They hid up in their scratching posts or heated cat bed.

Baby D had a boy-loving rescue dog who would have happily played chase or keep away with him for hours. But Baby D was contrary. He scorned the in-your-face, I-love-you-so-much creatures. He wanted the ones that were hard to get.

“This,” I told my husband, “does not bode well for his future dating life.” Continue reading Felines & Persuasion (#273)

Taste Test (#268)

I am a picky eater. Take onions. I’ve hated onions with a passion since biting into my first McDonald’s burger and recoiling in horror over the raw, diced bites of bitterness wrecking my burger.

Unfortunately, onions are everywhere. No burger, sauce, or burrito is safe.

I’m normally a people-pleaser. Not when it comes to onions. I will quiz the wait staff before ordering a new dish. I will send that dish back if an onion shows up (very nicely and apologetically). And then I am NEVER going back to that restaurant.

My Chinese-American husband can and does eat anything. Animal brains? Check. Animal testicles? Check. Bitter melon? Check. Fish eyeballs, jellyfish, chicken feet? Bring it. The guy could have killed it on Fear Factor. Continue reading Taste Test (#268)

The Hard Way: East & West Parenting Manual (#265)

When Baby D was an infant, my husband thought he was the easiest baby. Baby D was content to nap on Andy’s chest while Andy lay on the couch and watched TV. Entire seasons were binge watched during his family leave.

Once Baby D figured out how to move, it was a different ballgame. Baby D learned to crawl–solely for the purpose of cat-chasing.

Baby D learned to walk at 10 months. For five seconds. After his first three steps, he ran.

This was a rough learning curve for Andy. His once-lazy weekends were now about chasing his son, usually with food or band-aids. When Baby D wasn’t running, he was probably arguing. Continue reading The Hard Way: East & West Parenting Manual (#265)

Fun Dad (#264)

I was primary caregiver to our son. This meant that I was also primary disciplinarian, Sayer of “No,” Destroyer of Fun.

It’s no picnic parenting a headstrong, contrary child. Ideally a parent can redirect a toddler to a non-destructive activity. But sometimes, you just gotta say no. Then you have to back it up with consequences. Otherwise, you’re raising a privileged monster who flouts the rule of law and does whatever the hell he wants. (You know, your basic born affluent white man.) Continue reading Fun Dad (#264)

Parental Expectations: East vs. West (#263)

My husband had Chinese-American parents. Mine were white, uptight, and Anglo-Saxon Protestant/ Atheist.

Andy was expected to obey his parents without question. If his parents said his curfew was 10 PM, Andy was home at 10 PM. If Andy’s father wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV, Andy could forget about participating in Little League or any other sport.

I was expected to obey, but not without question. My mom was an attorney. Dinner table discussions in her house ranged from abortion to capital punishment. Everyone was encouraged to express their own opinions and defend them. If I could present a good argument for a curfew change or pierced ears, these items might be considered. (Lost on curfew, won on pierced ears.) Continue reading Parental Expectations: East vs. West (#263)

Don’t Whine, Ditch That White Boy (#259)

There’s plenty of whining on social media.

My favorite GOP whine, which I find hilarious as a former Washingtonian, comes from current Trump/ Republican staffers in D.C. The Trumpers complained that they are harassed and ostracized by locals; instead of touting their proximity to power as Obama staffers did, they vaguely mumble about working for the government when asked about their jobs. (I love you, D.C.!)

A similarly entertaining whine comes from the 62% of white American males who voted for Trump: women hate them. Women won’t date them. Women will actually ditch them in the middle of a date, upon learning that they are GOP supporters. Women have divorced husbands who voted for Trump.

Meanwhile, on Twitter and Instagram, my fellow white women are also whining, especially those who are college-educated and have advanced degrees. It’s apparently quite hard to find a white partner who is educated, motivated, unthreatened by a woman’s success, shares domestic chores, and doesn’t cheat.

That squares with what I remember back when I was dating.

It also squares with what I’ve heard from other Mom-friends at book clubs or playdates: their white husbands suck. Continue reading Don’t Whine, Ditch That White Boy (#259)

The Good Dad (#255)

When Andy and I were skirmishing negotiating over having a child, I extracted certain concessions. First, my husband would have to take Family Leave for 12 weeks and help take care of Baby D. Since California only covers 6 weeks of paid leave (a partial rate), we’d use my saving to pay the bills.

The idea of not saving money was almost physically painful for the son of Chinese immigrants. Dipping into savings might as well have been a mortal wound. (He never did fess up to his parents.) But I was adamant. Andy reluctantly agreed. We had no helpful grandparents to rock babies, make dinners, or do laundry within thousands of miles.

Besides, if Andy wanted the baby, he was not going to saunter off to work and leave me covered in poop and spit-up. He was gonna help. Continue reading The Good Dad (#255)

To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)

I’ve never been fragile. Born into a large family of semi-feral children, I learned to guard my food and my stuffed animals early. I mowed lawns, lifted weights, and fought dirty with siblings when necessary (also when unnecessary).

Sympathy and coddling were in short supply. Like most young women, I powered through feeling like crap when I had cramps, headaches, and nausea.

The “I can endure misery” mindset was helpful when I was pregnant. I continued working out and playing volleyball, since the endorphins helped me not puke all the time. I still walked my rescue dogs for miles. My only concession to pregnancy was lighter weights and no squats.

This astounded people.

Continue reading To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)