Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Potpourri - A Little Bit of This & That

My Baby Girl Turns 8 Today

Today, my youngest daughter turned 8. She is a Jewish girl with a Christmas Eve birthday. As is our tradition, we begin the celebration the night before. She asked for a chocolate ice cream cake with Hershey Kisses.

We eased the "8" candle into the frosting and added two extra candles. One for my darling girl to grow on. One as a way for her to honor her first mother, her Korean mother. "Before you make a wish for you, make a special wish to her because she is thinking of you, too."

Unlike my son who is my deep thinker and often ponders the circumstances of his Korean family and his adoption, my little girl lives very much in the present. She is the ultimate believer in "Be Here Now." I wait for the big questions, but they don't seem to be much on her mind. I gently encourage the big questions with books or teachable moments from TV, but nope, just not on her mind.

How different our children are as they find their respective paths to self and self-awareness. Okay, I say. I'm here when you're ready.


The Rules of Otherness

I found this on one of the multiracial Jewish listgroups I belong to. (Jewish and non-white and adopted can make for a major load of "otherness.") I like 'em as they reflect much of my own beliefs. Call them Rules of Thumb Governing "Otherness" when it comes to our special families. They refer to school, neighborhood, religious institutions and community at large.

1. I don't want us EVER to be the only Jewish family.

I could be one of a handful, but not the only. When I was first married to my ex-husband, we looked for places to live. Charles County, MD in 1977, close to my husband's work and with cheaper rents, didn't have a single synagogue. We took a pass.

2. I don't want us EVER to be the only multi-racial family.

Our kids need to see themselves and their families reflected in the larger world outside.

3. There has to be diversity already. My children can never BE the diversity.

I think this is the most important rule of all. Asking our children to carry this responsibility is unfair and burdensome. Childhood is hard enough without having to play ambassador, too. Race matters and love is not enough. Period.

None of this is easy. It means evaluating job offers/transfers, schools and neighborhoods in a way you may have never thought about before. It means asking your church or synagogue about the diversity of the congregation. With all of this, we as parents still risk "not getting it" or "getting it wrong." But try we must.


Why wishing me "Merry Christmas" is fine, but "Happy Holidays" is better.

So much discussion online, in the newspapers and TV about the "Happy Holidays" vs "Merry Christmas" wars. I have no idea why the more inclusive "Happy Holidays" somehow undercuts someone else's personal observance of whatever he or she may celebrate, but there you go. To my mind, "Happy Holidays" includes New Year's so I'm thinking no matter what, I'm wishing somebody something good in December.

Doesn't that count? :=)

As Hanukkah (mercifully!) concludes this evening and Christmas begins, I'm wishing you and yours "something good" -- enjoy this fun and festive Christmas song video from from Korea. Cute tune, cute kids.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Have A Little Dreidel ...

Since our first born was old enough to have a little friend or two, we've always made the first night of Hanukkah a night for the kids and their non-Jewish friends. It's fun, festive, and gives the non-Jewish kids a chance to experience a different kind of holiday.

This evening, our oldest had 1 friend, our son 2 friends, and our youngest daughter also had 2 friends. Hubby made latkes (potato pancakes), we served doughnuts (fried food is the centerpiece of the holiday) and played Dreidel with chocolate coins in gold foil.

Now you have to appreciate the mix in my house: couple of white kids, couple of East Asian kids, and a couple of Korean kids. Some Christian, some Hindu, some Jewish. I listened and watched them all play Dreidel using the hebrew names for each spin.

Say what you will, I love this country :=)

I found this on YouTube. Wishing you and yours a swinging, rocking Hanukkah!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When Did We Stop Caring About Children Not Our Own? Bus Stops & Mom Behaviors

I turn 52 next month. I've been a parent for over 14 years now. I've spent the last 10 walking my kids to and from the elementary school bus stop. Where we used to live, I was one of two parents who made the daily trip. In our new community, I am one of half-a-dozen or so parents who escort their little cherubs on and off the bus.

Yet, I remain the only parent who "parents" the kids whose parents aren't there. I'm the mom who reminds a child to zip a jacket or ask him where his jacket is when the weather turns cold. (Sometimes I even do the zipping.) I'm the mom who yells, "Nobody move until the bus stops completely" before the kids start swarming the morning bus. And I'm the mom who tells the kids, including my own, to get off the neighbor's lawn so he'll have something green come Spring.

The other moms are nice people. I enjoy speaking with them. But they don't engage anyone else's child but their own. (I even heard one mom mutter, "I don't care. He's not mine.")

There's no question in my mind that my behavior is rooted in my 1950s/1960s upbringing where every mom on my block parented every child on the block. That's what grown-ups did back then. It was part of the job.

But not today, not anymore. I suppose I do this a little out of fear. G-d forbid a child should slide under a bus wheel while on my "watch" -- how could I live with myself if that were to happen? Tell the cops it wasn't my job since it wasn't my kid?

So, I've accepted that this job is simply part of my overall karma. I am the bus stop monitor who zips jackets, and wipes noses, and keeps kids off the neighbor's grass. I will be out there, rain or shine, until my youngest no longer rides the elementary school bus. That's 3 years from now.

Will there be another mom to take my place when my job concludes? You tell me.