Step by Step

She cried, remembering the pain of the dream.

Her first waking sense was the smell of her own tousled hair, and the damp, wrinkled cotton on her face.  It was only then that she felt more than saw the white light of morning.

Her nights were shot with dreams - of chases, abandonments, of her lover just beyond her reach.  He was leaving her and he was cold to her, oblivious to the gnawing, churning inside of her, the pleading that refused to come out of her, locked inside, choking her.

He came in gently to raise her, as he always did.  "I had a bad dream," she whispered.  Then she cried, remembering.  He sat, silent, sympathy on his face but not understanding.  He knew about her dreams, and how she would cry 3 and 4 tissues' worth, even after she was awake and knew it had only been a dream.

"Don't leave me," she begged.
He chuckled, "I'm not planning on it, sweetie."

It was a phrase that never sat right with her, never comforted her in the way she wanted to be.  This time, this time, she challenged him, "I know you're not planning on it, but will you?" she asked with emphasis on the verbs.

He was silent.  His shoulders twitched as it always did when he was uncomfortable.  He was the kind of man, like many men, who felt disingenuous talking about his feelings.  But that discomfort could sometimes look like a person caught in a lie.  Slowly, as if confessing something embarrassing, he said, "Well, it takes steps."  He paused.  "Those things don't just happen."

And in that moment, she understood everything he was trying to tell her:

"I'll never leave you," is the phrase young women want to hear, a romantic ideal of someone's emotional response, eschewing the inevitabilities the future will bring.   "I"m not planning on it," acknowledges the real world temptations but says "I'm committed to you and I will keep my vow to you no matter what I face."

And in that moment, she was comforted in the way she needed to be.


Crossing the Line

Germans are known for their sense of orderliness.
Hispanics for their passion.
American for their "frontier" spirit.

In my last post, I shared that my mother advised me against marrying a Japanese man.  She actually preferred I marry an "American," meaning White, of course, over a Korean man.  This is pretty amazing for back in the day.  She believed that Americans had a more egalitarian view of women than their East Asian counterparts.

Clearly not every white American man treats their wives well.  But there is some cultural understanding and acceptance in America of what constitutes a good or bad husband. Roses on your anniversary, doing the dinner dishes, rubbing your wife's feet: Good.   Having a mistress, going out with an escort, being a couch potato: Bad.  We can name philandering politicians, and we ran to the side of Diana when we found out about Camilla.  There are other cultures whose determination of a Good Husband and Bad Husband differ from ours, right?

When you make an informed characterization of a people, considering their history, age, class, and/or ethnicity, you make generalities, right? whether you're a blogging mom or a Cultural Anthropologist.

When does a sociological characteristic of a peoples turn into prejudice?

Nobody wants to be considered liars, or adulterers, right?  But there are cultures that consider side-stepping to be the correct and appropriate behavior.  There are cultures that consider mistresses a part of male behavior, or even, a right. Is that calling a Spade a Spade, or Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

Everyone knows Asians are good at math, right?  Is that racist?  As a culture, East Asians are good at math.  There are tests of school children to prove it.  My own personal experience indicates that East Asians are much more math literate than their American peers, and this has been confirmed in a book pointing to this alarming condition called Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy & It's Consequences.

So that can't be prejudice, can it?  What's bad about being considered smart?

When does a sociological characteristic of a culture turn into prejudice?

I thinking you cross the line when you take one tendency, good or bad, and apply it to every person of that group.  Conversely, when your observation of one person (or two or three or ten,) in a certain time, a certain place, of a certain class and group and turn it into an observation about the whole ethnic group.

I'm thinking it's when you white-wash an entire group, when you can no longer see, or are no longer willing to see the individual, to consider the person in front of you.  Whether being smart or lazy, precise or dull, that individual is dehumanized, cast in plaster, and made into something of your own imagining.


Things My Mother Told Me

"Dress better than everyone in the room; as a minority, you will always be looked down on."

"Do everything properly; never part way."

"It's better to be small breasted; they won't sag when you're old."

"It's better to marry a lazy smart man than a hard-working dumb man.  A smart man, even if he's lazy, will be able to figure his way out."

"I want my sons to marry Korean women, and my daughter to marry an American man."  (You got your wish, mom!)

"You can marry a Chinese man, but don't marry a Japanese.  They are the worst toward women."

"You have to give men hell every once in awhile."

"You can love a rich man just as much as a poor man, so you might as well marry a rich man."

{By the way, the proper response is to chuckle,slightly shocked, but not offended.}


The Final Sunrise

"The hours go slowly but the years go swiftly."

or something like that.

Each day, often filled with the drudgery of responsibilities - being at the office, going to meetings, shuttling your kids around, picking up toys, weeding.  Somewhere in there you rest, relax, enjoy the family.  Then you flop down into bed.

Only to find at each birthday, each anniversary, each milestone, that the years have gone by.  Your 2-year old is now 9, 18, 24.  I love watching Boo grow, I love seeing the person he is, the person he is growing into.  But I also feel a sadness as I watch him.  Why?

I am also a  bit sad as my husband and I mark our anniversaries.  I know that one day, one of us will be left here without the other.  Will the remaining one find another to fill the days?  I don't know; I can't say.  I know now though that I never tire of him, he is my best friend and confidante.  I can't imagine finding anyone else to be with.

We mark each hour.  The days go marching by.  Then it's a year gone by.  Then 5.  Then 10.  Why the wistfulness at life going by?  Are we mourning the coming of the end of our story?  Do we have a longing in us to be eternal?  Is that why men build monuments?  leave a legacy?  I never felt this way when I was young.  Is it that as we age, we crest the hill and see in the horizon our Final Sunset? 

Do we not enjoy the beauty of the sunset, only because we know there is a sunrise?

Am I not wistful and sad because we were never meant to see the end?

Death Be Not Proud
Death is the Enemy

What if after the Final Sunset, we knew there was an eternal Sunrise?  Here in the quiet hours, as I have faith that there is a tomorrow, and the sun will rise again, would I continue to mourn at each passing year if I knew there were more years to come?  That I could live eternally?

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that
whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have everlasting life."



A Player

Boo is an enthusiastic player.  I mean, that boy knows how to play.  Anything and everything.  I am so grateful.  I've had parents tell me they had a second, third or fourth child so the kids would have playmates.  I assume there was more to it than just that.  As an Only, I can't help but feel that parents pity him a bit, pity me a bit.

We were told by his foster family that even as an infant, he loved the water and being outdoors.  Neighbors may see him in our yard, playing with sticks and stones and water and running through the grass, making piles of dirt and collecting bugs. At the pool, he is busy pretending and making up games, swimming and squirming like an otter.

Although not particularly athletic, he has great balance and we took off his training wheels before his fifth birthday.  We are not a particularly athletic family, preferring the outdoors, the arts and culture.  On the other hand, he never showed much interest in sports until recently.

I saw other families spend much of their free time running from one activity to another, giving up much of their weekends to sports teams and tournaments.  There's even a recent book called Until It Hurts: American's Obsession with Youth Sports & How it Harms our Kids.  I heard an interview on NPR with the author who was a "soccer dad" type and how he drove his kids to perform.  There was a time when kids didn't start sports until they were maybe 11, 12.  Now of course, you start at 5 with tee ball.  That is not the life I wanted for us.  Given Boo's history, we wanted as much family time, relational time and bonding time as possible.

I also wanted him to "be a kid," like we were when we were young.  Not out of mere nostalgia but because of the rich benefits we derived from wandering around, feeling different textures, smelling all the smells, discovering God's handiwork.  And yes, even sometimes, getting bored.  It turns out that our brains develop from all the sensory input by being around nature.

Because of how our culture has become, it is a natural question to ask if Boo is involved in sports.  I find myself explaining, almost apologizing for not, as if I were a bad mother.  It's not that I think they are judging me; they are just making friendly conversation.  But I do get that question a lot and I haven't been able to find a gracious way of replying, without apologizing, without explaining all of Boo's neurological weaknesses, without sounding righteous.


Strawberry Fields Forever

One of our favorite things to do - a sure sign of summer: pick-your-own strawberries.  There's an organic farm over the river and through the woods that we go to.  With Boo traipsing through the rows and eating right off the plants, I'm glad they're pesticide free.  He might end up eating a bug or two, but, eh!  Even the Husband went, but I didn't get any pics of him.

[There is just no way to be stylish when going to the farm.]


I love children's art.  Of course I have a special interest in Boo's development.  He is adding to his understanding of the subtleties of perspectival drawing; showing wall thickness, interior walls, objects within.  He'll be 9 next month.  *proud*