Not a Tiger Mom 11

I am grateful that my mom was not a “Tiger Mom,” and just for the record neither is my mother-in-law.  I’ve told you stories about my dad, so today is a tribute to my mom.  Unlike my dad she did not grow up in the country, with animals.  Therefore, life with my dad was an adjustment for her.  Still, my petite four-foot, eleven inch, mom would put a lead rope on our horses when they broke through a fence until it could be repaired.

My mom was the one who read to us, who sung to us and who took us to the small town five and dime to buy the occasional toy with money we earned from doing chores.  She taught all of us how to cook, sew on buttons, hem our pants, and do basic household chores.

Mom knew how to let us be kids too.  She let us have mulberry fights in the summer as long as we put on old clothes.  She encouraged us to have water battles with squirt bottles when we had no squirt guns.  She packed coolers full of food to take to weekend boating and camping trips at the lake during the spring and summer.

Then when school started back, we frequently came home to the smell of fresh-baked sugar cookies or brownies after school.  She helped us with all of our homework except math.  Math was Dad’s job.  She taught us other things too, like respect for nature.  She knew the names of all of the flowers and birds we saw and she could imitate the bird songs.  She loved going outside to look at the nighttime sky and she could name all of the constellations which amazed me.  I still need someone else to point them out to me.  Planetarium anyone!

Kung Hey Fat Choy 2011 7

Welcome the Year of the Rabbit!

LionHawaii’s population is approximately one third Chinese according to one of the writers for Examiner.com although that number includes those who are of mixed race like my children.  Therefore, like many homes in the islands we celebrate Chinese New Year.  Three years ago I even learned to make gau, a sticky brown sugar sweet treat made with rice flour to bring sweetness to the new year and help the family to stick together.  My mother-in-law makes the jai , a Chinese vegetarian dish for celebration of  the new lunar year.   

I am grateful for my multicultural family and that we live in Hawaii where children grow up respecting multiple cultures.  The Lion belongs to my son.  My children used to pretend to perform a lion dance and ask for money from us when they were younger.  Traditionally feeding the lion money is supposed to bring one luck and wealth.  Now our lion is mostly for decoration although my two still like getting money.  Lia see is the custom of giving lucky money in special red envelops to unwed children as a symbol of good luck and wealth.  For more about symbolism and Chinese New Year celebrations you may read: Symbolism holds sway for Chinese New Year – Hawaii Features – Staradvertiser.com.  And/or Life is Good| Changing Times blog, staradvertiser.com | Honolulu, Hawaii.

May you and yours have a year of harmony, joy, health, and prosperity!

Blogging for a Mission 22

I have been reading others’ posts about the reason they started blogging.  Blogging is not without risks since it involves sharing with the world.  The risks for my family are even greater because a few years ago my daughter was targeted by people she knew shortly after she was diagnosed.

That is when my mission started.  I quit work, I read every book on sensory sensitivity and Asperger’s that I could find.  I bought books on bullying that I read cover to cover, and I talked to the local contact at BullyPolice.org.  I explored the local bookstores to see what tween girls were reading.  I set my TiVo wish list to include autism, bullying, and Asperger’s Syndrome.  I attended conferences and I googled and read more.

Next, I wrote our true story, and then reality hit me like a ton of bricks.  I couldn’t use our story!  The story had to be fiction to protect my daughter and to protect those who harmed her too ironically.  Still, I did not want to trivialize the facts, so it is fiction with all events and all characters changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent.   The feelings from the misunderstandings, the love shared between the characters, and the effects of the bullying are real.

I will never knowingly do anything to hurt my family or anyone else for that matter.  Yet, I ultimately want this story disseminated to more people; therefore, my publisher suggested that I start a blog.  Previously, public forums were off-limits to me.  However, getting the message out that the world needs to change to a place of tolerance of differences and hopefully to acceptance of differences is my mission.  The question of how to do this while remaining anonymous came up from the day I took on this task.  Not an easy thing to do in this age of technology as I am sure many of you know.

Ultimately, my daughter agreed to my writing a blog, as long as I am careful about sharing too many personal stories about her.  She and I have come to the decision that it is not possible to remain completely anonymous and promote the message.  Still, I am very protective of her and of the rest of my family, and I will not apologize for this.  If this makes me appear untrustworthy to some, so be it.  If including information about my book, written to promote this message, makes others think this blog is just about self promotion, so be it.

Blogging has brought me to even more information and greater understanding, as I have read many of your thoughts and stories and I have commented on some.  Many of you have welcomed me into this blogging community, and I am so grateful to you.  I hope you know who you are even if I do not always comment on your blogs.  Others are not as welcoming to those they consider to be outsiders, but I cannot waste time worrying about them.

I have made a decision.  I will no longer allow other people to define who I am or who my daughter is.  I am her mother and she is my amazing, talented, brave daughter who I will fight to the death to protect.  I will do the same for my son, my husband, my close friends, and all of my family.

How about you?  What steps do you take to protect your family?  What would you do if someone targeted your loved one?

Bravery in the Family 16

There are three people I love dearly who have all shown unbelievable bravery in their lives. The first one is my dad who fought in WWII and Korea, but that is not what made him brave to me. The other two are my own children.

The first time I personally witnessed bravery was when I was a little girl. I awoke to a loud banging noise that would not stop, and then I heard my parents’ voices. My mom was begging my dad not to go outside. I got out of bed to see what was going on. Mom was crying and Dad was saying, “Lock the door behind me and call the police,” as he stepped out the door closing it firmly behind him.

Mom locked the door and opened her arms wide as I ran to her. I hugged my mom as she dialed the phone and I heard Dad yell through the door to Mom, “Tell them someone has been badly beaten and is bleeding.” Next I heard my dad telling someone on the other side of the door, “I can’t let you into my house because I have young children, but my wife is calling the police to get help, and I will stay here with you until they come. Whoever did this seems to have left. I saw a car speed away when I opened the door.”

Later I asked my dad why he risked his own life by opening the door. He replied, “Sue, if I were injured wouldn’t you want someone to help me? A long time ago a friend helped me and the only repayment he would accept was a promise that I would help someone else.”

Over the years I observed my dad helping others including repairing their cars when they came off our exit on the freeway only to learn that the nearest station was another eight miles away. He never accepted payment for doing this even when he had to drive somewhere to get auto parts. He always told them the same thing, “Just help someone else one day.” My dad did this his whole life and what better way to teach your children kindness than by being kind yourself. How I wish everyone in this world were like this!

I do not know if I have set as good of an example for my children, but I am trying and I think for the most part I am doing a good job of raising them. I will tell you a little about them and you can decide.

My daughter gave me permission to write Delightfully Different to help others as long I made it a work of fiction. I think this is very brave because I know how hard it was for her.

My son who observed everything that happened to his sister refused to be mean to another boy at school when a group of boys he has known since kindergarten started being mean to this boy. The boy told them my son is his friend and when the “bullies” asked my son if this is true, he replied, “Yes.” Some of these boys have picked on him as a result, but my son has kept his integrity which I think is way more important than remaining friends with mean kids.

Let me know what you think. Do you teach kindness to your children despite what other parents do?

Addendum: Much has changed since I originally posted this. My daughter left the school of her dreams due to their failures, but not before she made the brave decision to tell the high school dean her decision herself. She had the dean in tears, but this did not change the outcome.

That dean has since left the school and the former headmaster has too. We tried to get an apology for my daughter that we want placed in her permanent record to explain that the failures were not hers. The new headmaster refused.

In fact, after agreeing to meet with me, he tried to throw me out of his office ten minutes into our conversation because I showed him a happy smiling self-portrait my daughter drew when she first entered kindergarten before the bullying almost destroyed her. I still managed to converse with him for fifty minutes, but I did not see any indication that he was empathetic.

He did not even offer me a tissue when my eyes were clearly tearing and I had to dig into my purse to find one. He did promise to read everything I left with him including a school newspaper where the bullies called my daughter a reject. (No they did not mention her name, but the whole grade knew who was interviewed and she was the only one who had been excluded from that group. The paper went to every child from kindergarten through twelfth grade and it was on-line until I pointed it out to school the year we finally left them.

My daughter blogged her heart out and became #15 on Babble.com’s top autism blogs. She has since stopped blogging and worked hard to overcome the long-term effects of bullying.