If I Had To Do College All Over Again

Since we’ve been talking about college so much, whether about missing it or getting into it, I thought I’d share what I would do differently at college if I knew then what I know now. (Of course, some of you know how I freak out about alternate timelines so this is only in the case that my current timeline wouldn’t be affected because if my action were to erase my three beautiful babies I would just GAH!!!)

Anyhow, my mild hysterics aside, here are some things I would change:

1) Study. I was a smart kid in high school and got by with minimal studying and relied mostly on my smarts. Unfortunately, what I failed to realize once I got into UCLA was that EVERYONE who got into UCLA was smart so I wasn’t anything special. Therefore, the students who actually studied would do better than the smart but lazy students. Futhermore, no matter how intelligent a person is, smarts are meaningless in the absence of actual knowledge. My being smart was useless since I didn’t have ANY knowledge about physics or advanced microbiology.

2) Change majors. I had this weird idea that being “Undeclared” was a highly laughable situation for hippies who wanted to “find themselves” and had nothing but contempt for them. I mocked people who kept changing majors but in reality, it was a case of “the lady doth protest too much.” Why was I so hung up on being consistent and faithful to a major that I didn’t really understand what it was when I chose it? I was sixteen years old when I applied for college. (I didn’t turn eighteen until my second year at UCLA so I was nicknamed “Jail Bait.”) Why would I expect my sixteen year old self to know ANYTHING about majors and what they entailed?

I don’t really know what I would’ve changed my major to. I knew pretty early on that I no longer wanted to go the Pre-Med route but was too afraid to tell my parents since I had convinced them to let me go to UCLA on account of UCLA having a great medical school. I was worried that if I changed my major, my parents would tell me to transfer to Cal (which was far too close to my parents’ house for my liking).

It’s not that I didn’t like Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, it’s just that everything was so SMALL and required a microscope. And looking into microscopes make me nauseous because of the constant changing depth of field when going back and forth between the microscope and my lab book. It made me motion sick. I should’ve taken that as a sign.

However, looking back, I would’ve liked to switch to Chemistry (I found that endlessly fascinating but was terrified of Physical Chemistry so I chickened out) or Psychology (too bad I thought it was such a pseudoscience at the time). Or Asian American Studies (which screams, “Hire me”) or Business (I didn’t want to take more math). And now that I’m older, perhaps even Computer Science (at the time, I didn’t even understand what programming was – just that I wasn’t some geeky Asian dude who played video games all day or the fact that my father said I wasn’t smart enough to do it).

3) Get a job. Technically, I had a job as a Program Assistant my senior year but I didn’t really do anything and am surprised I kept my job all year long. I didn’t know how to do interviews. (I showed up to an interview in glasses, barely combed hair, a thermal long-sleeved shirt, and torn jeans. I also marked that I had a misdemeanor because I thought a speeding ticket was a misdemeanor. One of my friends who was really good at her job was completely appalled that that was how I showed up. She coached me so I could actually get the PA job.) I didn’t know how to write a resume. I didn’t have confidence that I could do anything at all – so having a low stakes job in college would’ve been really helpful. However, I was convinced my parents didn’t want me to work and focus only on my studies, so I never asked. (Sense a theme, here?)

4) Be less self-righteous and rigid with my beliefs. Granted, I graduated when I was twenty so as a teenager, I thought I knew everything. I was convinced that I had being a Christian all figured out and that my parents were total hypocrites and Pharisees (when really, so was I!) and was such an ungrateful little shit. Besides, it’s really easy to be all “Jesus loves everyone and we should give all our money to the poor” when you have never worked an honest day’s wages in your entire life and had everything handed to you on a silver platter. (I went to UCLA during the dotcom boom so we were pretty flush.)

5) Not be so obsessed with boys and being in a relationship. How many hours of my life did I waste on drama with boys? GAH. So stupid. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Some of the boys were fine people. (Many were not.) But how sad that I focused so much of my self-worth and time on boys instead of myself? LAME.

6) Pursued interests other than my Christian Fellowship. I loved my Christian fellowship (InterVarsity). I learned so much about Jesus and most of my conviction about social justice came from them. However, they were not the only things I loved or cared about. I wish I had taken the lead role in a musical my senior year instead of turning it down. (I said it was because God wanted me to spend more time with non-Christians on my floor, but really, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to memorize all those lines and songs and would fail in a spectacularly public way.) Instead of letting InterVarsity take over my entire life, I wish I had the strength to pursue other interests without bowing to the pressure (whether intentional or not) to do EVERYTHING InterVarsity.

Sadly, like so much of my life, much of my decisions in college were influence by fear. If there is one thing I am realizing my blog is about more and more, it’s about living a life without fear. Who knows what I could’ve become had I not been so afraid of my parents, my self, or other people’s opinions? Alas, I will never know. But it definitely encourages me to live my life NOW without fear.

What would you do differently?

My Children Keep Me On My Toes

When Gamera was almost two weeks old, Cookie Monster locked himself in the nursery. Since it was the kind of lock that requires a key, he was in there, with a dirty diaper (of course) for over 30 minutes. (This was the 2nd time he’d done this, by the way. The first time, he managed to unlock the door – also with a dirty diaper. Cookie Monster liked to run away from the changing table and go into his old room). Poor boy was screaming and weeping the whole time. It was unawesome.

Cookie Monster banged on the door, tried to claw his way out of the room, and kept trying the door latch. It was very traumatic. I was totally trying not to sob!! I did start crying a little bit, but I didn’t want to freak Cookie Monster out so I tried to stay as calm as possible. Plus, it’s hard to pick a lock when you’re weeping hysterically. Finally, the last 5 minutes or so, I just stuck my hand under the door and told him to hold my fingers. It was so sad. Thank God the locksmith came in 20 minutes and charged us $100 for it!! He broke the lock (even he couldn’t pick the lock) and got Cookie Monster out.

I eventually changed out most of the locks to ones that he could easily unlock. I was not about to go through that again!

Of course, my favorite was when the locksmith asked, “Why didn’t you just ask him to unlock the door?”

I looked at him and said, “He’s under two. Don’t you think if I could’ve gotten him to do that for the last 30 minutes YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE RIGHT NOW???”

Cookie Monster recovered quite quickly though. After all, nothing a lot of ice cream, milk shakes and fries didn’t immediately cure. He had nothing of nutritional value that night for dinner.

Fast forward to this afternoon where I am nursing Glow Worm in the nursery and the older kids are playing in the guest bathroom. Next thing I know, Cookie Monster comes to me and says Gamera won’t open the door. I hear her trying the handle repeatedly but to no avail.

I think to myself, “Wait! Didn’t I change all the door handles last time?” A quick check on both the doors of the guest bathroom suggests that I did not. I keep trying to get Gamera to unlock the door. After all, she is a lot older than Cookie Monster was when he locked himself in the nursery.

She is not having it and begins to cry. As I am trying to pick the lock (with Cookie Monster running around, getting in the way and Glow Worm wiggling on the hall floor, I try to comfort Gamera as best as I can. I completely fail at describing how to unlock the door.

My friend, DS, who is staying with us for a few days tries to help me remove the lock. Unfortunately, the screws to remove the handle are on the other side of the door. That seems ass-backwards to me.

Gamera is still crying. Cookie Monster leans his head against the door and asks her repeatedly if she wants to build a snowman.

The locksmith tells me it will be twenty minutes and $120 (inflation much?). Thankfully, Gamera finally figures out how to unlock the door (after my friend and I have completely mangled one of the locks). The locksmith arrives minutes after she self-liberates so I still have to pay him $50. *sigh* At least she’s out.

Tomorrow (or maybe Friday), I will have to switch out the remaining four door handles for the ones with a push button lock so small children can open the door easily. I can’t believe I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. I’m sure when Glow Worm is older and I have Baby 4Glow Worm will manage to lock himself in somehow with a lock I thought I switched out. That would just be my luck.

On a different note, this morning, Cookie Monster’s preschool teacher told me that yesterday, some twins were visiting class to check it out. When she told the class the twins were in their mommy’s tummy at the same time, Cookie Monster jumped in to tell everyone that he came out of my tummy (I had a C-section with him) and that his Gamera came out of my “gagina.” (She and Glow Worm were VBACs). His teacher was just relieved no one had follow up questions.

How I Know I’m a Parent Even When I’m Alone

As a SAHM, it is very rare for me to be without one or all of my children. So, when I am out by myself, it’s really weird. Of course, I revel in how simple and quick it is to do ANYTHING. And then, I run into the problem of not knowing what to do with myself.

Anyhow, here are some signs that remind me I’m a parent even when my kids aren’t around:

1) I have the urge to point out every single firetruck, police car, garbage truck, BART train, turkey, cow, horse, WHATEVER that would interest Cookie Monster or Gamera.

2) I don’t have any chapstick, hand lotion, wipes, snacks, water, or anything useful on hand because I was so excited to use a tiny purse that I barely remembered to pack my wallet and phone.

3) Instead of buying what I need for myself, I wander toy aisles, buy their favorite snacks and drinks, and look out for snacks and stickers and candy I can score for free. For the kids, of course.

4) The doctor’s office know me by sight and by my children’s names, but not by MY name so when I go for myself, they are somewhat flustered and have to ask me for all my insurance information and have me sign all these forms because I haven’t been in to see them for myself in over a year.

5) When I go to the grocery story I go straight to the bakery for our free cookies until I realize I am an adult all alone so I can’t get one.

6) Every task and errand is light years faster and I find that I have allotted myself way too much time. I find myself wandering the aisles just to bask in all my free time.

7) I am constantly checking my phone for updates about the children from Hapa Papa.

ETA: 8) Swaying and rocking the following (but not limited to): nothing, books, groceries, my purse, food, a tasty beverage. While waiting in line. While standing. While breathing. With no baby.

What about you?

What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

So, on Monday, I was very nervous about posting my thoughts on SCA5 because quite frankly, it required facts and citations and I’m terrible at those things. I would make a really shitty journalist. There is a reason I was not in one of those majors that required writing multiple term papers. After all, you can cram organic chemistry and wing an exam (albeit, poorly) but the only way out of a ten page term paper is to write a ten page term paper (even with double space).

The other reason I found it hard was because it is such a polarizing topic. I was prepared to be called a race traitor or naive or whatever. In particular, I was worried about alienating my Asian friends who were against the measure. I didn’t want them to think I thought they were bad people or cause any trouble. After all, people are allowed to disagree with me – and when they do, they are not always crazy or insane!

I admit, I didn’t even know what SCA5 was about until I saw a friend post about it. Because I learn a lot about the news and the world through Facebook (I find that my friends are endlessly fascinating sources of information), I wanted to see what SCA5 was all about. Once I did, I realized that I very much wanted to vote for it. However, as I am usually wont to do, I didn’t say anything about it on Facebook because in general, I dislike talking politics because I hate arguing issues (see the first paragraph re: facts).

But, after seeing an ever increasing number of friends posting “No on SCA5,” I just couldn’t stay silent on the matter anymore because I firmly believe that SCA5 is a good thing (just like some of my friends firmly believe that SCA5 is a bad thing). Furthermore, I didn’t want my black and Latino friends to think all Asians were against SCA5 and that I was among that group.

Now, before I started Mandarin Mama, I tended to post solely on neutral things. You know, pictures about my kids, rants about my day, funny comments, etc. I purposely avoided posting anything that would even contain a whiff of the controversial. In fact, I’m one of those people who absolutely HATE changing my profile pic to support things. I think it’s the internet version of peer pressure and refuse to do it even when I agree with the issue. (This is just my personal baggage. I am aware people are perfectly capable of changing their profile pic to support issues for completely valid and non-conforming reasons.)

But after regularly posting my opinions here, I realized I was sick of being “neutral.” I was sick of being afraid what other people would think of me if I actually voiced my opinions. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to have opinions about Real and Important things (even if my two cents were just a mere pip in the surrounding cacophony of voices).

I wanted to step away from fear. Fear that my friends would drop me. Fear that I would look stupid. Fear that I would be wrong in public. Fear that I would muddle facts. Fear that I would actually have to research facts. (Funny enough, that didn’t kill me!) Fear that I would have to write in a different style than I was accustomed to. Fear that I was becoming more and more myself – and if people rejected me, they would be rejecting me versus some carefully crafted version of me.

It is scary to put my thoughts on controversial issues out there – particularly since I keep telling myself that I am bad at research and facts. But you know what I discovered? Thanks to the internet, facts are pretty easy to find and check. Also? I am capable of writing something that is not just “slice of life.” And the best part? My friends are a lot more gracious and a lot less petty than I am.

What I Will Do When My Kids Are Older

Every now and then, I fantasize about all the awesome things I will get to do when my kids are older. (Although if I keep popping out babies, these things will inevitably be pushed back.) Of course, there is nothing stopping me from pursuing these activities now, but I don’t want any of these things badly enough to make room in my current life for it. These are more like “Nice to Haves” versus “Must Do’s.”

I also realize that my time in the future will be just as crowded and full – just with different items. But for now, it is nice to pretend that I will eventually have hours and hours of free time to kill on my own.

So, here in no particular order, are some things I’d like to do:

1) Sleep in. I know. So cliché. But still awesome. I can’t wait for the kids to be self sufficient enough to get cereal on their own and turn on the TV to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings.

2) Take a drawing/art class. Someone I know solely through blogging recommended some good online art classes. I may take them once Glow Worm is more consistently sleeping through the night. Or perhaps after the fourth baby (not pregnant yet, don’t freak out) is sleeping through the night. But I have always wanted to draw – and draw well.

3) Join a choir or singing group. I miss singing in corporate settings. (As in a group, not business.) I suppose some of this would be solved if I actually went back to church, but what I really miss are harmonies and counter-melodies and singing with people who know what they are doing. I am envious of a friend who is part of Vox Femina in LA. She has a baby just a month or two older than Glow Worm so clearly, it’s possible. I am just not yet ready to make the plunge.

That’s all I can think of for now. Sad, isn’t it? Surely there must be more stuff I want to do with my life? But I guess it’s good the list is short. Much more attainable!

What are you looking forward to doing?

The Myth of Meritocracy

ETA: Apparently, this post has attracted a lot of attention. (Much to my surprise although Hapa Papa has graciously mocked me with, “Do you NOT know how the internet works?”) At any rate, if you are new to my blog, might I kindly steer you to my Site Disclaimer & Comment Policy? You don’t have to read it, but you are responsible for adhering to it. I don’t mind if you disagree with me – that is totally your right. Just like it is my right to not allow any personally insulting or attacking comments. Free speech is guaranteed by the government, not my blog. 

When Hapa Papa and I were first dating, he used to mock me for using big words in common, every day speech. He told me that I was being an elitist and that no one normal could understand me so I should stop showing off. I was greatly offended. I told him, “I had twenty SAT words drilled in my head every week from the 7th grade through Senior year in high school. I read over a hundred books a year. These words are a part of my vocabulary. What the hell were YOU doing in high school? Didn’t you study for the SAT?”

Hapa Papa just shrugged and said that he took the SATs once during his senior year. He didn’t study for it. Didn’t really know he could study for it. He just showed up to take the SAT his senior year. His parents had never spoken to him about college other than telling him he couldn’t go to an expensive one. He assumed he’d attend a community college or something like that. His parents didn’t encourage him to go to college. (ETA: For those of you who are new to my site, Hapa Papa is half Japanese and half German. I am Pro SCA5 even at the supposed detriment to my own children.) He knew nothing about college applications. No counselors told him what to do. He only took one AP class (he can’t remember which subject: English or History) and applied only to one school, Cal State LA (CSULA), and got in (along with some scholarships). That’s it.

I was astounded. More like incredulous. I thought his parents and school were horrible.

“They didn’t tell you anything? You didn’t study at all? You just, ‘showed up’ one day to take the test?”

“Yep.”

“Did you go to school in the inner city? Are LA schools really that bad? How is it possible you did not know ANYTHING?”

My sheltered little brain couldn’t conceive of a world in which the parents and teachers did not provide a united push for the sole goal of getting their kids into college. The thing is, Hapa Papa actually went to a pretty good school in LA. (The school where they filmed Grease.) College just wasn’t a big deal for him or his parents. Even now, I still have trouble processing this fact.

This scenario of his would have NEVER occurred in my family or my friends’ families. NEVER. As in IMPOSSIBLE. ZERO% chance.

By the time I was in 7th grade, the next six years of my educational life were geared solely to get into college. I had tutors. Bought SAT books. Took as many AP classes as possible. Joined extracurricular activities in order to look good on my college applications. Took summer school for “easy” throw away classes so I could make room for more AP classes. I had piano and voice lessons. I was in choir and marching band and the Colorguard. Took the SATs (both the original SATs and then the SAT I and II) multiple times in multiple years. Took PSATs. Took assessment tests for the standardized tests. Took multiple AP tests. Went to college fairs and information sessions. Our classes were geared to getting us into as well as succeeding at college.

All my friends were like me to varying degrees. My best friends made up the top 5% of my class and I rounded it out, the dumbest of all my super smart friends. And even then, my weighted high school GPA was well over 4.0. (I’d tell you the exact number but I really don’t remember.) College was NEVER not an option.

Another time, we were hanging out with Hapa Papa’s CSULA friends, (who incidentally, were mostly Latino), and they started reminiscing about college. Wanting to contribute to the conversation and bond with them, I started talking about the dorm life and how the cafeteria food was amazing and like restaurant quality when I realized his friends had all fallen silent and just kind of gave me a blank stare. Embarrassed, my voice petered out and never finished what I had started to say.

Later, Hapa Papa gave me shit for being completely tone deaf to the situation. His friends worked through school and either lived with their parents or in the super cheap fraternity house. Their dorms weren’t fancy and they didn’t have amazing restaurant quality cafeterias. He called me a spoiled little rich girl. I felt foolish and ashamed.

I remember a Latino friend at UCLA telling me how angry he was when he realized just how different his schooling was from the majority of other UCLA students. He felt constantly out of place and kept thinking he didn’t deserve to be at campus even though he was in the top of his high school. He had started to think he was stupid and slow at picking things up when he realized it wasn’t because he was stupid. It was because the other students had ALREADY learned these subjects in high school and were taking them again for an easy “A.”

I remember a black friend at UCLA who was clearly smarter than me, worked harder than me, came from a similar socioeconomic background and completely deserved to be at UCLA and yet, people always assumed he got in because of affirmative action. Even back when I was at UCLA, a time before Prop 209 killed affirmative action, at most there were one or two black students in my classes of three hundred. There were so few black people on campus, even though the student population in the late 1990s was approximately 35,000, they knew all the other black students by sight if not by name.

Where am I going with all this?

This past week, I have seen many of my Asian friends post “No on SCA5” on their Facebook feeds, linking articles on how the bill is racist and discriminatory and how it is a new version of the Chinese Exclusion ActSCA5 would repeal provisions of Prop 209 and allow the State of California to deny an individual or group’s rights to public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. In layman’s terms, SCA5 would re-allow CA to use race as admissions criteria for UCs and CSUs. Basically, to re-allow affirmative action in UCs and CSUs.

According to UC data, the UC’s 2013 freshman class was 36% Asian, 28.1% white, 27.6% Latino and 4.2% black. At some campuses, including UC San Diego and UC Irvine, Asians are more than 45% of admitted freshmen this year. As of 2010, Asians made up only 14.9% of CA’s population.

If SCA5 passes and UCs and CSUs want to increase Latino and black student populations, due to the immutable properties of math, Asian and white student populations will decrease. And since Asians make up the predominant group, it is highly likely Asians would be the most affected. Understandably, many people (especially Asians) are up in arms over this.

I get why my Asian friends are angry and upset over SCA5. When I was applying for colleges, I remember debating whether or not I should tick off “Asian” when applying. After all, that could hurt my chances to get into school. And now, if SCA5 passes and isn’t repealed, when it comes turn for my children to attend university, their chances of getting into their colleges of choice will also be impacted.

It doesn’t seem fair. Why should blacks, Latinos, and heck, whites, get my kids’ spot just because of their race? They should work hard, get good grades and EARN their way – just like the rest of us.

But what is fair? On the surface, merit-based ONLY (the status quo) seems fair. But is it?

I want meritocracy to be true. I don’t want to admit that I did not get to where I am by myself – that I had help. But truthfully, I did. I benefited from tutors, better teachers, schools, and environment. I grew up without the expectation of violence. I had trusted advisors (who had already gone to college) show me what I needed to do in order to get into UCLA or similar institutions. Many of my extra-curricular activities were possible because my family had enough money so that A) I could do these things and pay for the materials they required and B) I wouldn’t have to work because I wasn’t expected to contribute to the family income.

In addition, I grew up in an environment where attending college was the rule not the exception. Being Taiwanese and the daughter of two MBA graduates makes it assumed that I would make good grades and go to a good school. Whatever you think of the “model minority myth,” society constantly reinforced the idea that I was smart, great at math and sciences, and would likely become a doctor.

I want to believe that I am singularly awesome and responsible for my success. I don’t want to believe that the black or Latino student who didn’t get into UCLA likely could’ve gotten in and done BETTER than I had they my advantages. Who wants to think that of themselves?

But when I honestly look at myself and my work ethic (or complete lack thereof), if situations were reversed and I was in an environment where succeeding at school was considered being a “race traitor” or I had few examples of academic success or all of society was telling me that I could only be successful as either a rap star or an athlete but never an intelligent human being and that I was most likely a thief, a thug, or a drug dealer and going to be knocked up at fourteen or incarcerated, I really don’t think I would have the mental fortitude or personal strength to overcome all of that. 

Even just from the anecdotes I included at the beginning of this post, without doing any research at all (which also backs up what I am saying), it is evident that there are huge differences in student backgrounds.

Money, neighborhoods, schools, race, and cultural expectations make it impossible to have a level playing field. 

Obviously, not ALL blacks and Latinos grow up in poverty. That is clearly false. However, at 12.6%, Asians have half the poverty rates of Latinos (23.6%) and African Americans (24.2%) in California. (Whites are at 9.8%.) So, even though not ALL blacks and Latinos have to overcome immense hurdles, many do. Besides, I’m not worried about the rich and middle-class black/Latino kids. They would get into the UCs and CSUs without affirmative action. But this helps blacks and Latinos who may not have the same grades (especially weighted grades) or access to AP classes, tutors, etc. and had to overcome overwhelming odds to get the opportunity to attend school.

Furthermore, even though Asian households have the highest median income in America, that fails to distinguish between different ethnic groups with different histories. When divided up by ethnicity, the majority of economic and academic success is concentrated in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian Americans. Cambodians (14.6%), Hmong (16%), Laotians (13%), and to a lesser extent, Vietnamese (26.1%), have college graduation rates lower than the US national average (28%). Additionally, one in five Hmong and Bangladeshi people live in poverty.

These are the Asians most likely to be hurt by SCA5. (Not the vast majority of Asians who are protesting on Facebook.)

There are no easy answers. There are limited spots. But sometimes, people in privilege have to give up some of theirs in order to allow other people a seat at the table. That is the burden and responsibility of being in a “majority” or in a seat of privilege. And in this case, I would consider Asians to be in the majority since they occupy a huge portion of spots at the UCs and CSUs.

Remember, Asians benefited greatly from the advocacy and rights of blacks and Latinos. We benefit from their fights for racial equality yet rarely do anything to help out their causes when we could. We Asians think that we achieved all our successes by ourselves when we wouldn’t even be in the conversation if it were not for blacks demanding their civil rights. We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

How hypocritical for Asians to demand opportunities in situations where we clearly benefit but not offer others that same opportunity where we would NOT benefit? Where would we be in other areas (bamboo and glass ceilings) if many whites did not give up some of THEIR privilege? Where would we be if blacks and Latinos had not fought for equal opportunities in employment, housing, and education?

Though much of our personal successes are due to our hard work, how much of that would have mattered if our rights were not secure in the first place? We Asians forget that we stand on top of the backs of our black and Latino friends as they paved the way and fought for our right to be here. 

What good does it do us if we succeed at the expense of blacks and Latinos? Who will come to our aid when we need it? (And believe me, we will need it.)

We are too afraid and pinning too much of our hopes and dreams on getting into certain schools. The truth is, there are so many opportunities out there. It SEEMS like a zero sum game where there is one pie and fuck it we’re losing some of our slice to blacks and Latinos. But in reality, our kids who would succeed at UCs and CSUs would succeed in many different schools. They will be fine. There are SO MANY pies. (Mmmm… pies…) UCs and CSUs are NOT the only game in town. There are many ways to succeed.

We do not need to fear.

Ultimately, is SCA5 fair? I don’t think so. But until I see Asians rallying with equal fervency against the unfairness of impoverished schools, the many Latino and black kids in underperforming school districts, living in areas of violence, drugs, broken families, and hardship, which, unsurprisingly, leads to it being much more difficult to do well in school (especially if you may be the first kid in your family to go to college), I am going to vote Yes on SCA5.

Suggested Reading:

Top 5 Anti-Affirmative Action Myths About SCA-5

NY Times: Asian Americans in the Argument

Civil Rights 101

14 Important Statistics on Asian Americans

Poverty in California

Reflections on the Rise of Asian Americans or Don’t Believe the Hype

Intelligence Squared Affirmative Action Debate (Hat Tip: Andrea Lee)

Myths and Realities of Affirmative Action for College Bound Students

Minorities and Whites Follow Unequal College Paths

A New SAT Aims to Realign With Schoolwork

Can You Get PTSD from Taking Your Kid to the Dentist?

You stand there, feet rooted to the tiles of the lobby floor. Your eyes are watching events unfold in all their insane glory. Time slows down and the whole while, your brain is stunned and stuttering, “What. The. Fuck. No. Wow. OMG. Is this happening? OMG. It is happening. It is happening to ME! Fuck!”

Ladies and gentlemen, this was all before 9:45am this morning.

So six months ago, I thought it would be so efficient and awesome if I scheduled both Cookie Monster and Gamera’s dental appointments at the same time because hey! Who doesn’t love efficiency? Turns out, Cookie Monster doesn’t love efficiency!

Erroneously, I thought that since it would be Gamera’s first time at the dentist, she would benefit from watching Cookie Monster go first. Clearly, I have no memory because WHY WOULD I THINK THAT? There has been no evidence during our previous two visits for Cookie Monster that this would be: A) a good idea and B) ever going to happen. I blame it all on a completely unrealistic hopeful optimism that has resulted in three children.

Fast forward to this morning. We start off pretty good. That is, until Cookie Monster gets wind that we are going somewhere after breakfast. He comes upstairs asking me where we are going. Because I have a stupid policy of never lying to my children (sometimes, I really hate this policy), I tell him we are going to the dentist. He is not happy. I make a classic parenting mistake. I tell him if he doesn’t go, then his teeth will rot and the dentist will have to pull out his teeth. (WHY WHY WHY DID I FUCK MYSELF IN SUCH A ROOKIE AND STUPID STUPID MANNER? I DESERVE ALL THE BAD THINGS!!)

As you can imagine, that went over well. Instead, I should’ve just said, “I love you too much to argue.” (I’m trying out a new parenting method and the hardest part is for me just to STFU. Clearly.)

Cookie Monster starts to whine and cry and hides himself behind the rocking chair. I wrangle him downstairs while he kicks and screams, all the while saying, “I love you too much to argue.” Hapa Papa somehow forces Cookie Monster into the car seat. (This is a Herculean task. First, Cookie Monster is very strong for a four year old. Second, when he’s pissed, he’s even stronger. Third, have you ever tried to force a small child into a car seat? How can they simultaneously be so rigid you are afraid you will snap them in two while being so limp that you cannot get a decent hold on them to smoosh them into the car seat? I just. Fail.)

The whole car ride there, Cookie Monster begs, weeps, and screams, “Let me out!! I want to go home! Get me out!” We arrive at the parking lot and Gamera is very excited and comes out of the van like a normal child. Somehow, I remove Cookie Monster from his car seat and continue my tenuous hold on his writhing body and exit the car very carefully. The Asian dude in the car next to mine just stares as this drama unfolds. (Incidentally, I hate the random side hand holds by the door on my minivan. What is the point of them except to provide easy handholds for my hysterical child to grab and prevent me from walking away from the vehicle?)

I stumble the hundred feet from the lot, through the lobby, and into the office. Cookie Monster sees Tangled on the TV and calms down somewhat. Gamera is busy playing Legos in the corner with another little boy. Every few moments, Cookie Monster whimpers and cries and demands to go home. The receptionist asks me to fill out paperwork as she watches me try to get a handle on my son. I resist the urge to smack her in the face because OMG DOES SHE NOT HAVE EYES?

Somehow, we make it to the moment where the dental assistant asks us to go in. This does not go well. I carry Cookie Monster who is of course, screaming and kicking and weeping, and Gamera, who is two compared to her brother’s four, walks in calmly of her own recognizance. The next thirty minutes are a blur of Cookie Monster throwing a tantrum, begging to leave, screaming, “I want to go out! Take me home! Take me home!” He asks for water. He drinks water. He says his tummy hurts. He trembles and shakes. He storms into the reception area. He storms back. I have to juggle holding him and answering inane questions from the dental assistant.

I put Cookie Monster down because I have to hold Gamera as the dentist looks at her teeth. She cries a bit, but overall, lets the dentist (who is AWESOME) do what needs to be done. She is calm and mostly, Gamera just wants to watch Tangled and have a lollipop and take home a purple balloon. Her teeth are fine. She is a fucking baller.

Finally, the dentist looks at Cookie Monster’s teeth and I use all my strength to hold him down and she tries her best not to get bitten by my rabid four year old. His teeth are fine. All she does is look at his teeth and gives him a goody bag and a balloon. I don’t know why he is ballistic.

We leave and I apologize profusely to all the staff and traumatized parents in the waiting room. We are now in the lobby and I am trying to tie down his balloon when Cookie Monster stands stock still and starts to vomit yellow acid all over his pajamas. (Did I mention he was still in his PJs and pullup and also, BAREFOOT because Mom of the Year here couldn’t get him to change or put on shoes?)

It just doesn’t stop.

He just stands there, mouth open, an arc of bile continuously spewing out of his mouth. (An ACTUAL ARC. Like a FOUNTAIN.) It spatters yellow and bubbly all over the nice tile floor, creating a slick puddle all around Cookie Monster’s bare feet. He vomits straight down his nice, white, bulldog pajamas. And he just stands there.

Thank God he didn’t eat breakfast and just had water at the dentist.

Gamera doesn’t move and stares, stunned. 

I freeze. I don’t know what to do. I run to the bathroom and grab paper towels. I throw them on the rapidly widening pool of gastric acid. I do this repeatedly. Cookie Monster takes off his shirt and uses it to wipe his feet, the floor, and steps on it. I valiantly refrain from yelling at him and tell him to stop that. I put his shirt in my purse. He walks to the door and lays down on the ground.

I go back to the dentist office and ask them to call a custodian because my kid has just vomited all over the lobby. A few minutes later, two nice dental assistants in their pink scrubs and face masks come out to clean the floor.

They tell me to go home and assure me that this happens all the time. (Somehow, I highly doubt that but I desperately want it to be true.) One of them gamely says, “At least there are no chunks!” Bless her heart.

I immediately drive to McDonald’s and binge on orange juice and hash browns.

It occurs to me that I forgot to make our next appointments. I think I’ll wait a few weeks for them to forget us and become anonymous once more.