Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Know You're Loved

Yesterday, after a long day at work not saying much and struggling to fill the day, I found myself ready for a normal conversation with my wife; not struggling to find the words she could understand or constantly feeling misunderstood myself. I meandered home, walking to the beat of some nice, but forgettable indie-pop. I was greeted with child-like enthusiasm from my child-like… child, a nicety rarely matched in my experience. We played for a bit while Serenity finished up the dinner we’d be sitting down to have moments later.

At the table, Serenity grumbled over the disappointing dessert she had made that day. She found the recipe on a vegan blog. There’s really nothing else to say right? Tofu, much to the chagrin of vegans worldwide, is not a superior replacement for dairy of any sort. All things considered, the lemon bars she had conjured up from the abysmal ingredients provided tasted just fine, but she revealed that the blogger had emphatically proclaimed them to be the “best lemon bars (she) had ever tasted.” I don’t mind vegans or vegan food, but I do mind when vegans pretend that their faux-food clearly tastes better than the original dishes they so poorly mimic. It struck a (petty) nerve.

My wife and I sat on the floor across from each other at opposite ends of our low-legged Korean dining table, our son picking at bits of food we had given him and minding his own business. I plummeted into a rant, raising my voice; my tone tense. I fruitlessly rambled on about the gall of vegans, hoping they would hear me the world over. It was an absurd moment that I indulged in to feel like I was the authority on something, no matter how feeble. That’s when it happened.

Joash had been facing me when I started stumping, and was sure that my spitfire speech was aimed squarely at him. A look of terror overcame him; one that I’ve never seen, and never want to see again. He was sure he had disappointed me in some way and tears apologetically fell down his face. I was horrified. He gasped for breathe in-between wailing and I picked him up, hoping he could feel assurance in my firm grip. I carried him to the mirror, nearly the length of the wall, in our entrance hallway. I saw how sorry he had been in his eyes and I wanted him to see it reflected in mine. It was an accident that could’ve been prevented had I not thought it funny to attack vegans as a whole with no representative present to provide a proper rebuttal.

This isn’t about vegans. It’s about heredity.

The whole fiasco hit me harder as the night passed. Serenity mentioned, in passing, that the episode reminded her of stories my mom had shared about me. I was (and am) an incurable crier. So paralyzing was the fear of disappointing anyone that I loved (or didn’t), I would breakdown at the slightest rise in either of my parent’s voices. I’m sure some might relate to an extent, but I was on another level. I desperately sought approval, to a fault. I needed everyone to be happy with me, each other, and life as we know it. I can vividly remember my mother giggling in disbelief at outbursts I would have, wondering if I would realize the world was, in fact, not ending. While some might still be thinking, “Yeah, I get it. Me too,” the difference may be that I am still very much like this. I stress when friendships get shaky or stagnant. I desperately need to fix my wife’s bad days, or I feel as if I’ve failed her. I need to know everyone’s okay and okay with me.

I watched myself breakdown last night. I saw the fear of one who desperately desires approval, but It’s not necessary for him or myself. I am wholeheartedly aware of the deep love and care many have for me, yet I still doubt. I want Joash to live confidently in the love that bursts forth for him from people all over the world (multiple continents, even). It pains me that my son may very well have inherited this frustrating, irrational trepidation from his father. I pray he hasn’t.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just one video and one picture.

Petitioning my son to feed my narcissism.

I backpacked him for yesterday's walk to Taco Bell. It's quite difficult to tuck him in properly and would be completely impossible alone. I'm looking for a different wrap as he keeps packing on the kilos. I think I'll try a side wrap next.

(Parents, are you finding my Instagrams on the side of this page? I am not uploading and posting mine, so you just have to click on them yourselves.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We have friends who are always taking the loveliest pictures of their family, and every time I see them it reminds me to do them same. But I invariably forget to orchestrate it or to bring the tripod or even the camera when we go out. So we took a trip specifically to take family pictures, and it finally worked out.

But first, in case you don't just want to look at gratuitous pictures of our family posing in a park, here is our son, standing on his soapbox, having so much to say (no doubt quite eloquently) but without the aid of a translator. Sorry, son.

And here is what happened when he had his first watermelon slice. He grabbed it and started eating from the bigger, green end, and then he looked over and saw wise, little Joonsoo eating it properly. He got the hang of it by his second slice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

For Joah's father on Father's Day.

And for mine. I love you, Dad! You have never let me down, and the older I get, the more respect and admiration I have for you. The profundity of viewing your own parents through the eyes of parenthood is as esoteric as it is well documented, so I will only emphasize it here by way of simple reiteration.

And also, because how cute we are, Dan and I posted pictures of each other on our Instagrams yesterday:

The babe and me.

The babe and he.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Between the hours of 1 and 5 last night, I slept, at best, one half hour. Joash reached his apex of teething discomfort and refused to go back to sleep. We did the two hours of gently voiced commands to "go to sleep, it's bedtime." We did the half hour of feeding. We did some more of the other one. We got grumpy and woke up Dan (and, likely, the neighbors). Then finally, Joash crawled himself upside down in our bed and fell asleep. Today was an incredibly long day, during which the baby enjoyed himself for less than 20 minutes. His preferred method of comfort was being held from a standing position. All by the magical misery of teething.

I am too tired to care about the laundry mess, the toy mess, the puffed cereal mess, or the dish mess. I barely even care about writing this blog but that I have pictures my parents haven't seen. Also, I ate a lot of brownies today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Something I really like about living in a foreign country is that language and cultural barriers sometimes breed surreality. Today Korrine and I were waiting on the elevator down the hall because the elevator nearest our apartment was too slow. We ran into an elderly man holding a pretty baby girl, about Joah's size. He was interested in us and our baby-having and wanted to connect. He spoke no words of English and what did come out of his mouth was nothing at all like Korean, but somehow he ushered us back into his apartment. It all happens so fast when it happens.

We walk in on a young woman sweeping the floor and two little girls sitting on the couch. The woman is his daughter and the girls are her daughters. She is Vietnamese and her parents are visiting for the month. She leads us to the couch, apologizing for the sweeping. Someone puts tea in our hands and both our babies are immediately cradled and then posed for many pictures. The only words exchanged are collective broken Korean and some English. We tried to leave several times, but they wanted to feed us oranges. One, two, three slices aren't enough. She has many oranges in the fridge; her husband works for Samsung. Joash forgets I exist and is chewing on rice cakes and bounding around in a baby walker. Miss Quinn is charming the grandmother. Korrine and I just keep looking at each other with the giddiness of bewilderment. Forty minutes later and Korrine announces that we'll be completing our E-Mart errand, but not before we deny an offer for coffee and, likely, endless other treats.

I guess we wanted to leave the whole time, but it was quite pleasant and so sweet and with that nervous twinge in your belly that tells you you're living. It made for a much better morning than just walking to E-Mart. And how else would I have learned to say "hi" in Vietnamese?