She was in a combined Kindergarten/1st grade which is a tough curriculum challenge as is, given the range of abilities at that age, but her teacher had a serious illness that went in and out of remission. The result was a lot of absenteeism. We’re talking substitutes for substitutes. It was not good!
By the time a long term substitute was hired, May flowers were in bloom and my child was behind. Waaay behind! It took 2 1/2 years to identify the holes to catch her up and I went crazy trying to figure out the best phonics system, home school math curriculum, etc. Luckily I had a lot of mom friends who were educators and they helped me enormously.
This blog was born from these efforts. From that bad year, the lesson that I learned is that it’s my job to make sure my child learns whether her education happens at home, through a tutor or supplemental class, or at school. Yep, the buck stops here. I accept that. (Of course, getting wonderful teachers makes my job easier and I’m very lucky most years!).
Rule #1 to myself: I am responsible for my children’s education not their teachers or their school.
What is strange is that I don’t live in an inner city. In fact I live in the #3 best places to live in the United States according to CNN.money: “Residents rave about the top-ranked schools, and parents are excited for the new high school opening this fall… It should be: The school cost $197 million…”
So the corollary is: no matter how great your child’s school or teacher is, you still need to monitor progress and do some heavy lifting at home.
Another thing happened to me that caused this blog to be birthed.
I love Newbery award winning books. One day after reading Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (one of my very favorite books in the world) with said oldest, I handed her another DiCamillo Newbery Honor Book, The Tiger Rising. How was I to know this book was depressingly sad akin to The Grapes of Wrath but in a slim book with large-ish font size? Oops! Sorry, kid! And yes, you don’t have to read it. This prompted another valuable lesson to myself.
Rule #2 to myself: Read the book before I hand it to my child. Or get a recommendation from her peers, teacher or librarian.
It sparked a realization that I love children’s literature more than adult fiction and now I had an excuse to indulge!
With three kids and a very helpful hands-on husband, I am able to chronicle our journey called parenting though my blog which focuses on education, parenting, and children’s literature.
And so my blog is born from lemons squeezed painfully into lemonade.
education: from my oldest child’s bad first grade year.
parenting: from 3 kids now about to enter 7th, 4th, and 2nd grade.
children’s literature: from handing over the wrong book to my kid and rediscovering my love of KidLit.
I am a Tiger Mom Failure.
I am Asian and my kids are a crazy mash up of Asian-y cultures: 25% Japanese (4th generation), 25% Chinese (3rd generation), 50% Korean (2nd generation). I can not and do not make them practice their instruments 3 hours a day. Heck, I’m lucky if they practice that much in a week, and truth be painfully told, sometimes that is the combined amount they practice in a week.
But what is more exciting to me than having them play classical music on a stage is watching them self actualize. To see them discover that “I may hate math but I am actually good at it.” or “I’m great at Rhythm Gymnastics but I’d rather play soccer.” Or even “I love to read chapter book series of 1) anthropormophic animals at war with one another AND 2) fantasy adventure books of characters with special powers and 3) realistic fiction; however I find science-y time travel books confusing.”
Rule #3 to myself: My kids came out fully formed but not kiln fired. I can only smooth out the rough edges that would otherwise hurt people. My job is to get them to self-actualize and find their purpose and passion in life. I provide options. I find solutions. I drive them like crazy to anything they want to do. But I don’t dictate their future.
At the end of the day, it’s their adventure and I’m just the cab driver to enable and keep them safe. It’s my job to fulfill my own hopes and dreams and not to impose that burden on my child. My husband and I remind each other of this often.
Raised by Wolves.
As for me, I was raised by wolves in Southern California (or at least my husband thinks so) and attended a very mediocre public school system. I took the 2nd plane ride of my life to land in Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend Harvard, I discovered that it took me and my S. Cal friends two years to play catch up here on the east coast amid the prep school, magnet school, and really outstanding public school kids. We vowed that our kids would go to decent schools so that they would have the pleasure of hitting the ground running when they went to college. I’m keep you posted on how that is going!
I started a company in college with two friends that morphed into an international talent agency placing marketing and creative professionals. Did you catch that? It’s a fancy name for a staffing company. Realizing that I couldn’t not read my own company financial statements, I did a pit stop at The Anderson School at U.C.L.A. to earn my M.B.A. in Entrepreneurial Marketing.
A few start ups later, I stayed home for 7 1/2 years as a SAHM (stay at home mom). When my youngest went to preschool, I became a WHAM (work at home mom). Then I discovered blogging which is where SAHM hits WAHM — you work all the time and you barely get paid. What is the definition for addiction again? I think I need someone to remind me…
My 3 Kids Could Not Be More Different
Grasshopper and Sensei is my oldest and is now in high school. She’s the one juggling the soccer ball on the top left corner. Her special gift is her ability to get along well with others and her vast innate creativity. She’s a kind and generous person who makes friends quickly and keeps them forever. She also gifted in her ability to forgive. When she turned 10, she realized that she wants to attend the Rhode Island School of Design after visiting the museum. She actually uses up dozens of markers and a case of paper a month because she draws every single day.
PickyKidPix is my middle child and what a middle child she is (and in middle school as well)! She has expressed two goals: play soccer for Stanford and become a billionaire. She is best described as (hmmm… diplomacy required here): driven, fearless, and a force of nature. At 10-years-old, she gets hired out as a mother’s helper, an organization assistant, a dog walker. She is also her sister’s art agent. Not surprisingly, she sold nearly all the art on her sister’s blog, making a 20% commission. You can ask her about simple versus compound interest and what a franchise business is. She an expert on both topics after realizing she only was making 1 cent per quarter from her savings account, and that she can’t own a Staples Superstore, dashing an early dream of hers.
My youngest is pictured here outdoors. Normally, you would find him in front of a screen. He would like to develop video games and has vast experience as a gamer. He finished all levels of Angry Birds when he was barely in Kindergarten. Now he’s in elementary school watches YouTube videos to master making different types of cannons on MineCraft. As the youngest, he’s independent and low maintenance. If he becomes a successful game developer one day, I won’t have to feel guilty for all the screen time he seems to inveigle. Here’s hoping!
Our year in 2014 via video and photos!
They keep me and my husband busy because these are some of the extra curricular activities they do during the year (thankfully most are seasonal): soccer, tennis, lacrosse, volleyball, hip hop, swimming, surfing, fishing, horseback riding, golf, flute, guitar, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, basketball, skiing, karate, kickboxing, snowboarding, art, and cooking. I am tired just thinking about it. Thank goodness for car pools!
So here we are together and I thank you for coming to my blog. I hope you will come back and that we will get to interact. I’m easy to find on social media and I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Google +. I will follow back!
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.