After six weeks of going to the gym twice a week, Koma finally made a huge break in her separation anxiety. Back a few months, unsure how to help her, I decided to seriously consider the offer from the YMCA’s childcare staff. They previously told me that they would gladly help me with our youngest, and assured me that other kids have successfully conquered their separation anxiety. Their main suggestion was to be consistent in getting to the gym to really achieve the breakthrough. So, I dropped Unni off at preschool then hopped right over to the Y, leaving her for 5-10 minutes at first. Actually, the very first time, I stayed and played with her there. Gradually, I increased it to 15-20 minutes. On Tuesday she played with the toys instead of looking for Mommy! It wasn’t easy to leave her even for a few minutes, but the positive and reassuring ways of the excellent YMCA staff helped both Koma and me. We see a big difference in her after our church meetings too, as now she’ll go up and give hugs, high fives or handshakes. Could it have been a coincidental developmental milestone? Yes. Will this work for every kid? No. Would this have worked at any other place that’s not so family and child oriented? No, I really believe that the ladies’ positive and genuine care made this happen for our little girl.
As summer starts to wind down, and the calendar soon flips forward to September, we think more about schedules and routine. Since Unni loved the summer camp so much and asked to continue “preschool,” we decided to sign her up. She is super-excited. We’ll give preschool a try and see how she handles the routine. At this point, we’re focusing more on socialization with peers, and encouraging some separation from Mom. We’re pleased with the confidence she’s gained in just the few sessions this summer. For this moment in our lives, preschool seems like a good idea. Unni will feel like a big girl, Koma will benefit from one-on-one time with Mom, and Mom will be gifted a chance to address Koma’s major separation anxiety (which is another topic altogether!).
In my dream world, I would love to add a few more activities to Unni’s experience but some of that will wait. I’d like to start her with some music lessons and continue ballet for a little bit. She’s also expressed interest in different sports (e.g. tae kwon do, soccer, baseball). But, I also firmly believe that children should play at this age, so over-scheduling at age three borders on ridiculous. As the weeks progress, we’ll see how preschool pans out, and monitor appropriate activity levels for the girls. Is it possible to over-think parenting??
You know you’re a desperate (or sleep deprived, or, insert frazzled parent description here) when you start bribing your children with junk food. No, not junk food. JUNK food.
Today, Unni was eating breakfast. This consists of one bite of food, then several trips to the refrigerator, the play room, the living room, or, if we’re lucky, the bathroom. Then another bite.
During one of these distracted forays (somewhat legitimate, Koma woke up so we all had to go say good morning!) there was a small piece of fuzz on the floor. Since Unni feels like a big girl when we ask her to throw stuff away, I asked her to go throw it away. She headed to the kitchen. The next thing I know, she is holding the item shown below – a chocolate covered raisins container, with about six of what appears to be 1/8 raisin parts, each covered in chocolate.
“We can’t throw this away,” she says, “there are still good raisins in here.” I was a little befuddled. Until I realized she had pulled this container out of the trash*! Instinctively, I said “you can’t eat those until you’ve finished your breakfast.” And mom backed me up (probably just an instinctive, self preservation move on her part, too).
So here we are, not only bribing, but bribing with junk food** in the most literal sense!
*today was trash day, so trash was “fresh” and no large chunks of rotting food or other debris was immediately observed on container
**to avoid sounding overly pious, we do regularly bribe or “set goals” using treats – but this takes it to a new level!
It’s amazing that in any marriage there’s a blending of two people who grew up in completely different “cultures” of thinking, communication patterns, interpersonal dynamics, spending habits, ideals, morals, spiritual attitudes, parenting styles, education, social status, goals, unspoken expectations, etc. Quite beautiful to see it work between two partners as a complement to the other. Even more amazing to add another layer of different language, food, and ethnic culture. And on top of that, kids.
Obviously, when we got married we didn’t really think through all the nitty gritty details of raising children, much less what a bicultural home would entail. But here we are now with two precious daughters to whom we want to impart our heritage and instill the best of both worlds. We’re grateful for the privilege/challenge/adventure.
And, my experience as a Korean-American is simply my own. I can’t speak for every Korean-American because what my parents taught/did/showed/valued probably differs from what other Korean parents might have done. The fact that we left Korea when I was a year and a half means my experience in the U.S. differs from someone who left when he/she was older. I did all my schooling here, whereas some only a year or two. Nevertheless, I carry with me deeply ingrained (whether explicitly taught or subtly absorbed) culture of thought, ideals, expectations that stem from being raised by Korean parents. Actually, we all do, no matter what our backgrounds. I’m looking forward to exploring these different aspects of my upbringing and how it affects my parenting. Thanks for joining us in our journey.