Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Asian Symbolism for Inefficient Parenting

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Parenting, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Two bunnies, a stork, and the moon

You show your kid how to do an entire night routine; the next night, you expect the kid to do it all on its own without your help. They brush their teeth, floss, get their PJs on, place their dirty clothes on the hamper, and choose and read their books because they already taught themselves how to read because they were born hooked on phonics.

Finally, they close their doors and climb their little bodies into the crib, cover themselves with a blanket, and guide YOU through a meditation so you can soothe yourself in this difficult business of being a human being.

Then they remembered they had forgotten to fill the humidifier, so they climbed out of bed and filled it. Then, climb back up and finally fall asleep without asking for you even once.

You can finally catch up with the highly acclaimed new season of White Lotus or whatever the most popular show right now is.

Of course, it is ridiculous when spelled out this way but if we are honest with ourselves, this is how we expect it to go.

We expected that parenting would not be a thing to do, that our kids would magically parent themselves, and that we would have “easy” kids who would listen to instructions once and do everything we wanted.

We presumed we were bringing diligent, obedient little butlers and little maids into this world. This life-altering event brought us little queens and kings and turned us into butlers, maids, drivers, tutors, chefs, chaperones, and personal assistants.

One of the biggest myths I came to parenting with has also been the biggest disservice to my role as a parent: the idea that somehow, as I have mastered myself (if you can even call it that), I will domesticate my kids.

Because I know how to smoothly and efficiently run a routine from the moment I wake up early in the morning to the moment I head out the door, my child, new to the world and all of its excitements, should too.

So I expect them to do everything I do because I know best, but they come with the hardware to say “No. I know best!”

And so it begins a battle of the wits, and we engage with babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers to subjugate them and to show them we know best.

An approach that could nurture more kindness and respect is to assume that everything is going to be a shit show from the moment your kids wake up to the moment they go to bed. And not just when you put them in bed but when exhaustion finally conquers their desire to stay up because, let’s face it, they never want to go to bed, and why would they when there is still so much they haven’t seen? Plus, you and your wife are pretty chill, so they still want to spend time with you.

In the assumption of inefficiency, we might find ourselves with the mental capability to appreciate the moments that make this a worthwhile experience.

The ones that infrequently remind us, “This is why I chose this maddening journey that always seems to end with crayons and markers stains on the wall.” And in that snapshot, you can feel your cup filling up even if momentarily; even if later it would be spilled along with the oatmilk steamer your oldest spilled in the car back seat.

We know how to follow a routine, we know how to follow commands, we know how not to do inappropriate things, or at least we have the biases and blinders necessary to believe we do.

We have been beaten down and conditioned by our parents, school, society, the government, and lovers to do the things that please them and ensure their happiness, like really scrubbing inside tea mugs and closing the screen door.

So we stop at red lights, we pay our taxes and we leave the bedroom when our gastrointestinal system is overtaken by a ferocious attacks of the farts.

But our kids have not been broken in by anything.

They come equipped with an indomitable will, and everything is new to them; a doorknob is new, leaves are new, and so is the old chewed-up gum rotting and hardening on the sidewalk.

So when you tell them to go left because that’s where their room is, they hear you, but they still decide to go right because that’s where the pile of old toys is, and they are not sure they are ready to say goodbye. Or when I picked up my daughter to show her the colors of the sunrise outside our kitchen window, but she was more interested in exploring the glass in the window pane.

In 2023, around the Chinese New Year I found myself walking through the lobby of the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Every year, the hotel decorates to honor the Chinese year.

On the side of the installation was a small scene. It was a stork, a moon, and two bunnies. The placard explained that the installation represented resilience, transformation, and success. Looking into it, I learned that in Asian cultures, the rabbit symbolizes rebirth, and the stork symbolizes reinvention, family protection, and success.

I keep coming back to the three attributes the installation represented and notice how we always tend to focus on resistance as a society. We celebrate endurance. We are expected to withstand anything and stubbornly charge against any obstacle that stands in our way.

But we focus much less on transformation.

We can endure as we change and transform with the challenge. Suppose our kids demand all of our available attention and time. In that case, we can transform to be more patient, to have fewer hobbies, to sleep a little less, to dedicate our lives to these little humans so they can one day go into the world being the most confident they can be, knowing that they were loved and that with that love came the transformation necessary to make the most of this experience even when they call us no less than what feels like one million times back into their rooms after we have laid them in bed.

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