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Pampering the American Child While Asian

By Editor,

I rolled out of bed at 7AM jolted by the sound of my alarm on an otherwise perfectly peaceful Saturday morning. I needed to get my 6 year old ready for a 9AM soccer game and the coach wanted us there by 8:30AM for the warm up.

On game days, I like to feed Kelly a hearty breakfast thinking it might help her run faster, and no breakfast is heartier for a 6 year old than the Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle combo. I gave her the orange juice and the breakfast sandwich while I ate the Potato cake. But that morning, Kelly only wanted the cheese, so, I managed to peel the cheese off for her to eat. Next, I tore up the sausage patty and tried to feed her by the piece, but she had 2 bites and declared herself done with breakfast. I insisted that she eat more, so she took a bite of the egg and couple bits of the McGriddle bun to appease me. I thought to myself that this should not really matter because, since Kelly doesn't actually try to kick the ball, the coach has been giving her less and less field time during the game so she will not require a lot of energy. After McDonald's, we walked over to Starbucks for my caffeine fix.

On the drive to the soccer field, I gave Kelly a pep talk. I told her to run fast and to kick the ball, and that she should forget all that I taught her about taking turns, sharing, and being nice, because they do not apply to soccer games. Kelly asked if we could go to Red Lobster for lunch if she scores 4 goals. I told her that if she would just kick the ball four times, we could go to Red Lobster for lunch. She cheered for the prize.

We arrived at the soccer field promptly at 8:30AM. Even though there were three different games at 9AM at this park, there were just a handful of people on the field including our coach and his young daughter. I am usually punctual. I helped Kelly out of the SUV and we strolled onto the field. I parked my lounge chair at the middle of the sideline and started to enjoy my coffee. I watched on as Kelly and the coach's daughter ran around with soccer balls while giggling. Soon enough, the quiet and modest neighborhood that surrounds the field was invaded by a bustling fleet of SUVs and minivans and more kids in their colorful uniforms and their families arrived onto the green field.

By 9AM, the game was about to start and the children were in the middle of the field getting checked by the referees to make sure that all of their required gear was properly on and the fans sat surrounding the game talking and sipping their coffee. By then, my husband and our 3 year old showed up. My husband who is usually late in general, always seems to manage to show up at Kelly's game right on the dot, but as they walked closer, it became apparent that this was achieved at the expense of personal hygiene. At least our wild-haired baby had a sippy-cup of milk.

As soon as my husband sat down, he took his camcorder out of a bag and was getting ready for filming. I suggested to my husband that there is no need to record all the games, since we have not once thought to watch any of the previous games. My husband said that he now only records when Kelly is on the field, in case she has a good kick.

The game got underway. It is always fun watching the little 5 and 6 year olds kicking and running at the ball. There is almost never any passing involved unless it is accidental, but since there are quite a few children happy just running around, the little ones who can run and like to kick the ball can usually score a goal. Often times, quite a few goals can be scored if the goalie does not like to keep his or her eyes on the ball.

The sidelines are just as exciting with lots of cheering, clapping, and parents calling out to their children to say “good job!” or to tell them which way to run, to run faster, or to kick the ball. I felt like yelling out “Red Lobster!” to Kelly, but didn't. After the game, all of the children got treats for their hard work. Parents take turns in bring in the treats. That day they each got a juice box, an individual fruit roll up, and some other sweet things that kids like. I prompted my children to thank the person who gave them their snacks, then rushed them home to get ready for their next activity.

I have just about half an hour to get both girls into their ballet gear, then half an hour to drive them to their ballet school. My husband went back to bed as I drove the kids to their ballet school. I had recently changed to this ballet school. Our old ballet school required a very short drive, and the schedules were more convenient for me. I switched to this new school, because my friend told me that they have a master ballet teacher from Russia and that he is very good working with children. I sat through one of this master's class, and promptly switched schools for my girls. Now, as I cruised on the freeway, I wondered if this was such a good idea. In addition to the long drive, Kelly's ballet class ends at 3PM, so I had my entire Saturday shot. I don't even want my girls to become real ballerinas; I only sign them up for ballet so that they can walk prettily.

This school only allows parents to sit and watch on the last Saturday of the month, and today is not the last Saturday of the month. I dropped my 3 year old off in the studio and started to contemplate about what to do with my hour. Luckily this studio is in a rather large shopping center, and Kelly and I have gotten to know all of the stores here mostly through window shopping. I remembered that today I needed to visit a store here called Barbecues Galore. The soccer season would be ending in a few weeks and the team parents are coming together to get the coach a present. We found out from his daughter that he likes to Barbecue, so I volunteered to the team mother that I would check out this BBQ store and see if they have any suitable items as a present for the coach.

As we walked into Barbecues Galore I was explaining to Kelly that we are here to see if there was anything that the team could buy for her coach. The store was very impressive. I saw lots of items that my husband would like to have if he knew they existed. Kelly came running to me from the other side of the store and announced that she found something that the coach would like. She then pulled me by the hand and led me to very large and very shiny BBQ grill. She thought that her coach would really like it. I told her that we wouldn't be getting this for her coach because it was too expensive. Kelly asked me why it was too expensive. I would have launched a great lesson about the value of money if I weren't so tired and hungry for lunch. I just said that I am sure that her coach already has a grill. She bought that. I decided to report back to the team mother that this is a great store to buy the coach a gift certificate.

Kelly was getting hungry too. As we walk through the shopping center she spotted Red Lobster and asked me to take her there for lunch. I asked her how many times she had kicked the soccer ball this morning, and she very honestly said “twice.” I reminded her that one of the times, the ball sort of kicked her, and that she needs 4 kicks to go to Red Lobster. She demanded to go to Red Lobster anyway. I said maybe next week, and that we would be going to Fresh Choice (also around the corner) instead. She wouldn't give up on Red Lobster and started whining. I pulled her away from Red Lobster and she started crying. I told her that Fresh Choice has ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkles.

After lunch, we walked back to the ballet studio. This time dropping off Kelly, but my 3 year old wanted to watch her sister dance. I explained that it was not the last Saturday of the month and told her “we can't watch the dance lesson.” But the word “can't” does not apply to three year olds, so she kept trying to pull me back to the studio. I told her that we could go to the big bookstore, and that I would read books to her. She likes books, so off we went to Barnes & Noble. I quickly led her to the children's section but away from the train sets, thinking to myself that we will go there when I become tired of reading.

After a few books, it was time for the train sets. There were already 3 little ones there, and my poor child complained to me that there was no train car left for her to play with. Another mother promptly got out of her chair and asked her child to share, then managed to pull one train car out of his hands and shared it for him. I asked my child to say thanks and she said the word “thanks” obediently without looking at anyone and started to play. I then properly thanked the kind mother myself. We both just sat there and watched the children play.

Finally it was 3PM. I got the children back into our car after a brief trip to the potty room. I told the children that Mommy needed to stop by the grocery shopping place before we could go home. Kelly quickly complained that she is tired and wants to go home now and the little one sided with her. They both started to protest loudly. I turned around and told them that I needed to get our weekly grocery shopping done so we could have a free day the next day, but that didn't stop them. I told them that if they behave during Mommy's shopping trip I would take them to the Japanese candy store after we were done. They remembered our previous trip to that store favorably and cheered.

After shopping, I got myself a pearl milk tea and then took them to the candy store. I told them to pick out 3 candies each but only small ones. They each picked out 3 pieces of candy. After I paid for them, the smiling candy lady handed the candies back to them and they jumped up and down and yelling thanks to the candy lady as if the treats were presents from her.

On the ride back the kids got permission to eat their treats, which yielded the desired effect of a little peace and quiet as they busily licked their candy. I sipped my Boba milk tea and was quite satisfied that the daily tasks were done. I happily told Kelly that if she kicks the ball just 3 times next Saturday, I will take her to Red Lobster for lunch. Kelly said that she likes Fresh Choice now.

Shortly after arriving home, I quickly showered the kids. While I was still combing my 3-year-old's hair, I could hear Kelly downstairs fingering the piano. By now, Kelly is fully aware that her day is not free until she completes her piano practice right after her shower. I gave the little one a big Kumon workbook to keep her occupied in the kitchen while I sat with Kelly in the living room watching her play.

My husband came home from work just in time for dinner. We gave our girls the choice of what to eat for dinner and they decided on “Meat ball.” Their idea of a “Meat ball” is simply a Shanghainese dumpling without its skin. I was very pleased with their choice and we arrived at our favorite Shanghainese restaurant 20 minutes later. As soon as we walked in, we immediately called out for 2 orders of the Shanghainese dumplings. The dumplings take 15 minutes to make, and our girls don't enjoy watching my husband and I eat while they wait. The girls cheered when the dumplings arrived, and, to the horror of those sat near us, my husband and I started to separate the meat from the skins allowing the prized grease to leak out. We then each picked out a meat ball and proceeded to give the still steaming-hot meat balls a heck of blowing as our children waited anxiously with their mouths open.

The girls managed to eat all of the “meat balls” by themselves today. My husband commented that they had nothing but meat balls for dinner. I happily reported back that we went to Fresh Choice for lunch today, and they mostly had corn and peas, so the pork they had for dinner provided them with a well-balanced diet overall for the day.

Finally, at 8:30PM, we started the ritual of washing, brushing, reading, and putting the children to bed. By 9:30PM, my husband and I had what was left of the day to ourselves. We enjoyed some quite time by watching one of our pre-recorded CSI shows. As soon as our show started, we heard the little one's loud pretend crying noises upstairs. I told my husband to go check on her and my husband pointed out to me that the little master is demanding “Mommy!” I asked him to pause the CSI and quickly ran upstairs. She wanted some water. I brought her as little water as I could get away with to minimize the chance of being woken up in the middle of the night to help her use the potty. I handed her the little bit of water and just as she was about to drink it I remembered that Ishould reinforce my politeness campaign about saying “please” and “thank you.”I quickly prompted her by asking what she should say to me. She looked up at me from her drink and said “I love you.”

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