Mini Mermaid told me the other day that she wants to get married in the future but does not want to have any children. This isn’t the first time she has informed me of her choice to be child-free. She is going to marry at age 29 to the person she loves and likes. She doesn’t want any children because she doesn’t want to take care of them. “I don’t want to feed it, wash poop, and wake up at night time,” she said. This child will be 6 in a couple of months.
Besides marriage, she wants to be a rock star with a cool electric guitar like Rainbow Dash, a firefighter, and a police officer. Her favorite superhero is Superman and favorite Disney princess is Queen Elsa.
What does a parent do when she hears that her child doesn’t want any children? You accept it and let it be. As she grows, she may change her mind or she may not. Regardless, it is her life and her decision and in no way should I do anything else besides support that choice.
It is hard for me to be silent when Mini Mermaid tells other people this and they don’t agree, but I do just let her talk. She can stand her ground when talking to adults about this topic. Why she has to defend herself on this topic, I wonder. I mean, she’s just a child. Her worries should be kindergarten, playtime, and friends. It makes no sense for me when an adult tells a child they must have children when they grow up and they need to want it now.
My family gives me a lot of pressure to have more children.
“You have to have more!”
“You must have at least a son.”
“You can’t stop at two.”
“What does your husband think?”
My family wants me to have at least two more sons. Again, the issue of sons. Sometimes, these conversations make me feel as if it is my sole duty as a woman to only bare sons. I pick and choose my battles on this topic. If I have the energy, I tell them no way; I will not have any more children and argue my point. And other times, I nod and say, “Okay, we’ll try to see if we have any more children,” just to appease them for the moment.
When my daughters were babies, I used to wonder if they will get the same pressure to have children, to have sons. After seeing that people are already telling the one who doesn’t want any children that she must have children, I no longer wonder. Even my older child who says she wants to have only one child will probably get pressured to have more children. It just doesn’t stop.
How young is too young when it comes to talking about sexuality, puberty, and where babies come from? In my opinion, it is never too early to start. Kids need to be aware and know the facts before their friends start teaching them and before they start puberty (which can be as young as 10 these days).
My kids are 5 and 7 and they know where babies come from.
I started talking to my children about sexuality when they were 2 years old. To me, “The Talk” is a process that takes place over a series of years, not a one-time conversation at 13. Our conversations at 2 were to teach them private body parts, using the correct terms like “penis” and “vagina.” I also taught them how to wash and care for their privates. Simple.
We transitioned to what appropriate touch is. Who can and cannot touch them and when. An example of someone touching them in an acceptable way is during their annual check-up with the pediatrician. And Dr. L is such a great doctor that she confirms what I tell them all the time. Every check-up, she says, “I asked you to undress for me because I am a doctor and I am looking to see if you’re healthy. I would not do this if your parents are not here.”
My niece turned 1 at the end of April of this year. When my sister was pregnant with her, my children were very interested in how a baby gets from inside Mommy’s tummy to the outside. Mini Mermaid, who was 4 at the time, thought your belly button opens up and the baby comes through that way. Little Mermaid said you go to the hospital and the doctor gives you your baby. She was correct, only she did not know how. And with their many questions, I explained to them that babies grew in the uterus and come through the vagina or by way of c-section. Their 20-something questions exploded into a million! “Where is the uterus?” “Is the uterus the same as the stomach?” “How does a baby come through our vagina?” “Did I come out the same way?”
About two months ago while walking home from school, Little Mermaid asked me how she was made. She knows where a baby develops and how a baby gets from inside a woman’s body to the outside world. Trying to avoid telling her about intercourse (because I was caught off guard and wasn’t ready), I told her she was created when Mommy’s egg and Daddy’s sperm joined together. My child giggled at the thought of her coming from an egg, but that answer satisfied her.
A couple of days later, Little Mermaid told me that her friend (who is a couple years older than her) told her that babies are made when Mommy and Daddy get naked and sleep together. And that opened up the conversation to how the egg and sperm meet.
This was a really big talk, and I needed the help of a book to illustrate my points. So, I headed to Barnes and Noble soon after and looked at the choices of books they have to teach children how babies are made. They didn’t have a good selection, most likely because they’re out of stock since I remember a bigger variety the last time I was there. I was really looking to buy What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg because I heard that it includes different family dynamics, as well as other means of having a baby (IVF, surrogate, adoption). Unfortunately they didn’t have it. So, I opted for Changing You: A Guide to Body Changes and Sexuality by Gail Saltz.
I really like the detailed diagrams and drawings. Saltz’ book included everything from how your body changes, to intercourse, to briefly discussing about pregnancy, and lastly, boundaries. I do have to nit-pick one detail, and that is that Saltz only describes one way to make a baby. It states that “When a man and a woman love each other and decide that they want to have a child, they will do something called ‘sexual intercourse’ or ‘having sex.'” Although I do agree with Saltz that what we, as parents, say will have an impact on our children and that this is a crucial time to set up guidelines for our children, I disagree that we give them the notion that only those who are in love can make a baby. But I did use this part of the book to elaborate that you can make a baby without being in love (although I would like it if they waited until they’re ready) and that different family dynamics, like gays and lesbians, can still have babies through other means.
It took us a while to finish reading Saltz’ book. The book was only a tool to help me discuss reproduction to my child, so we made a lot of stops along the way to explain in details the diagrams, answer questions, and expand on certain subjects.
My kids have a better understanding of human reproduction after this and Changing You has become one of their favorite books. Why, they asked my spouse and I to read it 5 days in a row because they enjoyed it so much.
I feel that the more we make sex a taboo topic, the more our children will seek elsewhere for answers. Sex is much more than just intercourse. It is about sexuality, reproduction, healthy boundaries, and more. I would rather have my children ask me and I provide facts than my children hear inaccurate information from their peers. And besides, sex and sexuality isn’t bad. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
I walked into the Disney store a month ago because the kids wanted to look at “Frozen” merchandise: Elsa and Anna dolls, a singing Olaf, dresses, wigs, and many more. I caught a glimpse of a sign that read, “Froze: Coming to DVD March 18.” Little Mermaid saw the sign as well. She turned to me and asked if we could buy the “DVuhD” as how she calls them.
“We’ll come back when it’s out,” I replied to her.
The store associate nearby heard me and said, “You can preorder the movie. If you preorder it, you’ll get lithograhs from the animation, while supplies last.”
Why not? I am planning on buying the DVuhD anyway. The movie stills will be a bonus.
“Frozen” has been on repeat since I picked it up from the mall Wednesday.
Let it Go
Disney is doing a better job at redefining the role of a princess. It has been some process, but it is slowly changing. “Tangled,” “Brave,” and now “Frozen.” Merida (Brave) and Queen Elsa (Frozen) have to be my favorite Disney princess/queen by far.
“Frozen” is about two princesses, Elsa and Anna, who live in Arandelle. Elsa, is born with a power to turn things into ice and snow. One day Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her magic. From then on, Elsa isolates herself in fear of harming the ones she love. On the day of her coronation as Queen of Arandelle, Elsa inadvertently freezes her kingdom and vanishes into the mountains. Anna follows her to find a way to stop the eternal freeze. This is a story about finding oneself and the meaning of “true love.”
The film’s soundtrack is lovely. Our favorites are “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “Let It Go,” and “In Summer.”
Queen Elsa sings “Let It Go” after she disappears into the mountains. This is when she embraces herself and her powers.
Anne Powers, NPR Pop music critic, talks about Elsa and the song’s meaning. Powers stated that during the performance of “Let It Go,” Elsa “claims talent and decides that she’s going to be herself.” This song is about self-empowerment, said Powers. And I do agree. “Let It Go” is loved by many because of its theme of self-empowerment, self-love and acceptance. Elsa has been told to “conceal, don’t feel” for so long that when she freezes Arandelle and runs away, she embraces her talent and just let. it. go.
Powers continued on to say, “Every 10-year-old girl is coming out of her shell and coming into her own and she needs this kind of song to grab onto. And it’s really important that it not be overly sexual or sexy. These are girls who have been heartbroken by Miley Cyrus and her transformation. They need these kind of pure emotional songs.”
What?! How did Miley get dragged into this?
Yes, Miley is no longer Hannah Montana. The little Disney princess is gone. Miley has completely transformed herself into… well, you can guess… herself! Just like Elsa. Miley is embracing herself for who she is at the moment. How she changes in the future is completely up to her. If we are to compare Elsa and Miley, then they are very much alike. Elsa decides to let whatever it was holding her back go and be her true self. Miley did the same. She shed the Hannah Montana look and decides that she was going to be who she wants to be. Elsa transforms into a much sexier self—makeup, poofy hair, glittery blue dress with slit, and heels. Miley took off her clothes and swung on a wrecking ball.
But Elsa didn’t take off her clothes, twerk, or lick a hammer!
This is about the idea of change, self-empowerment, and self-acceptance, not about who is sexier or over-sexualized, or slut-shaming. That is another topic altogether.
My point is, when Powers mentioned Cyrus, all I could think about was, “But Miley is just being herself as is Elsa. What is wrong with that?” We cannot shame one who is on a journey to claim her identity and praise another for doing the same thing, even if the former is different from what we deem as “acceptable.”
“You can’t marry a man you just met.”
One of my favorite lines in the movie has to be when Elsa tells Anna that she can’t marry someone she just met. Anna responds with, “You can, if it’s true love.” And Anna fights for her true love, only to be betrayed and only to find out in the end that true love comes in many forms—in her case, true sisterly love. I like to believe that Disney is poking fun at themselves with Anna’s line because previous Disney princesses have found “true love” in someone they’ve just met—which we all know, doesn’t work in real life.
My second favorite line is when Kristoff exclaims to Anna, “You want to marry a man you just met?!” Even Kristoff knows it’s impossible to fall in love and marry someone you don’t know. Their funny conversation goes on with Kristoff questioning Anna to see how well she knows her “true love.”
I really didn’t expect much from “Frozen” because it is a Disney animation film. I didn’t want to be disappointed with the fantasy of true love, evil villains, or happily ever after. It just happened that one day in late November, early December (I forget), Mermaid just said we (kids included) were going to the movies and watching whatever’s playing that was suitable for children. And it turned out to be “Frozen.
“Frozen” is different from previous Disney princess movies. I have to give Disney some credit for making progress. Should I look forward to upcoming Disney princess movies? We shall see….
My favorite “Let It Go” cover:
Best parody (I dedicate this to all the people who have to endure my children singing “Let It Go” nonstop:
The holidays are approaching. The mall just had their tree-lighting ceremony last weekend. I already see Christmas decorations and Christmas merchandise in department stores way before Halloween. Every year, Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier.
One of my family’s Christmas traditions is to take a walk down Christmas Tree Lane. Three years ago, we went on opening night. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the elves were there. I asked Little Mermaid, who was 2 at the time, if she wanted to take a picture and talk with Santa. We excitedly got in line when she said yes. When we got to Santa, my child would not sit on Santa’s lap. She hugged my legs as she peered at this strange man in front of her. Before I knew it, one of the elves tried to help my daughter on to Santa’s lap, but she cried and I pulled my child away.
“It seems she is scared of Santa,” I said to the elf. I turned to Little Mermaid whose face was stained with tears and asked, “Koj ntshai Santa lod (Are you scared of Santa)?”
“Okay, ces peb mus xwb mas (Then we can leave),” I said.
But she didn’t want to leave until we got a picture with Santa. So we stood next to Santa Claus and took our picture.
It’s interesting that we teach our children about the dangers of strangers, but tell them it’s okay to sit on a strange bearded man’s lap for pictures. But that’s okay because Santa is a nice person. So is the pedophile who lost his puppy or the relative who pays too much attention to a child.
Every year, as I shop at the mall during the holidays, I would pass by the Santa station. Sometimes I stop to watch. I have seen children jump excitedly on Santa’s lap and tell him their long list of Christmas wishes. I have also seen children cry because they don’t want to sit on a stranger’s lap. I see their parents pushing them and telling them that they have to or that it’s okay. Some even threaten, “If you don’t, Santa’s not bringing you anything for Christmas this year.”
I furrow my brows and shake my head. This situation (or any similar) always makes me feel uncomfortable.
My family and I were at the mall yesterday. Santa was there. My children wanted to stop by and say hi. Little Mermaid was happy. Mini Mermaid did not want to go near Santa. The visit lasted about 2 minutes. It was an awkward moment. Although Little Mermaid was sitting next to Santa, she didn’t talk with him. He gave her two candy canes and a paper reindeer hat. When her younger sister saw that, she hesitantly walked up to Santa and he gave the same goodies. And that was it—the visit. I asked my children if they wanted to talk with Santa, tell him their Christmas wishes. Little Mermaid looked at me and shook her head. The younger one just stood by my side. So I said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to talk with Santa if you don’t want to. Let’s go.” And we did.
Santa was our last stop at the mall, so when we got to the car, I reminded my children about the dangers of strangers, even if they are Santa. “If someone offers you candy in exchange to touch your body, what do you say?” I asked in Hmong.
“No,” my older one replied.
“Yes, even if he is Santa Claus.”
Children should get a say on their physical boundaries, whether it is with Santa, a relative, or even you—the parent. If your children do not want to hug, don’t force them. If they don’t want to kiss, don’t force them. By dictating that they should, you are undermining their feelings of comfort. This tells them that they are not the owner of their bodies and should discard their instincts, which makes them vulnerable to being sexually abused.
I have had to tell friends and relatives many times that my children do not want to be hugged. Fortunately for me, no one has gotten offended by it (or if they have, they have not said anything to me). Some reply, “Maybe in 5-10 minutes when they have settled.” And in 5-10 minutes when my children have familiarized themselves with the people and surrounding, they usually run up to hug their auntie or uncle who was asking for a hug earlier.
I don’t have a say in who they want or do not want to be affectionate with. When my children tell me they dislike someone, we have a conversation about it. I remind them that they cannot be mean to that person, but they don’t have to like them. Just because I am their parent does not mean I have to make them like someone they do not. How would you feel if someone told you you have to like someone just because they are another person’s friend or relative?
Some have said that I am too liberal and giving my very young children too much freedom—which may lead to them being out of control, vulnerable to abuse, and promiscuous. I beg to differ. My spouse and I have rules in the house and are consistent in reinforcing and punishing our children. I just believe that my children get to express their emotions and make decisions on their physical boundaries. Why am I going to force my children to do something that they feel is wrong and/or uncomfortable? Like Irene van der Zande stated above, by making children “submit to unwanted affection…, we teach them that their bodies do not belong to them…. This leads to children getting sexually abused.”
My two girlfriends and I have girls night every other Friday. This week, we decided to move girls night to Thursday because there was a showing of the documentary “Bully” at the State Theatre. While my friends were in the lobby buying mimosa to sip on during the film, I was wondering what kind of movie my dear friend Rosabel had picked out for us. You see, she is a person who doesn’t have the patience to take crap from anyone and has this sarcastic sense of humor. Never serious. If you didn’t know her well, you’d think she lacks compassion. So, I thought “Bully” would be a comedy.
The film starts out with David Long, talking about his 17-yr-old son, Tyler, who hanged himself after enduring years of bullying from schoolmates. This is going to be a tear-jerker, I thought to myself.
BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.
“Bully” takes its viewers through the struggles of 5 families dealing with bullying. Throughout the film, I kept having flashbacks of junior high school. I was fortunate enough to have not been bullied in middle school (although someone did try to bully me in high school). Everette, Kevin, Oscar, Maggie, and Elaina. These are the names of my fellow classmates who were bullied in junior high.
I was in the GATE/Honors program at MT Junior High School. I distinctively remember a group of boys in my cohort bullying Everette, Kevin, Oscar, Maggie, and Elaina. The leader of the group was Tommy. For a while there, I felt as if he maybe thought he could get away with bullying because his father was a well-respected orchestra teacher at MTJH.
Like the all-star football players you see in movies, Tommy was popular. He was liked by every teacher. Probably idolized by the boys at school. All the girls swooned head-over-heels for him (Girls even cried of broken hearts because his father didn’t allow him to have girlfriends). I thought he looked like a lanky, big-eared dork, but of course, being the silent person that I was back then, I kept the opinion to myself.
Everette didn’t have good hygiene and came to school stinky. He also never turned in his homework. Kevin was awkward and a loner. Maggie was quiet and wore braces. Elaina was fat. Oscar—what can I say about him? He was part of Tommy’s bullying crew and yet they bullied him as well. I think it was more as the I-want-to-fit-in-so-I’ll-bully-with-you-guys-even-though-you-guys-bully-me syndrome.
I never saw or heard Tommy and his friends resort to physical bullying, but the mental, verbal, and emotional bullying was very evident. Everyday, I heard the incessant laughter from these boys whom I silently judged from the back of the classroom. How mean and horrible can they be to these kids, I thought. And one of them is Hmong! Did his parents not teach him well?
Thursday night, Rosabel told me that Tommy regrets bullying his classmates. As an adult, he realized how horrible he had been and is sincerely apologetic.
Bullying was such a foreign concept to me. Being as sheltered as I was, I didn’t know this kind of behavior was called “bullying.” Of course, DARE officers taught bullying in elementary school, but it didn’t ring any bells until later. Bully is not in the Hmong vocabulary. How could a Hmong student describe the act of bullying to their parents? Neeg ua phem rau kuv (People are mean to me). This translation does not even cover the depth of bullying; it simply does the victims no justice.
… unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
I don’t believe that bullying is exclusive to school kids. Adults can be bullied as well, but I shall leave that for another blog entry.
During the film, [I believe it was] the sheriff [who] stated that if there is no physical harm done to a child, then he does not consider it bully. I was raging because I could not believe the ignorance of some people. Bullying takes many forms, although physical bullying is the most apparent.
This involves pushing, kicking, punching, and taking and/or throwing a student’s personal items. It basically is aggressive physical contact with another student.
This includes name-calling, derogatory remarks, putting someone down, insults, and teasing. Intimidation through stalking and threats would fall into this category as well.
This is when someone is deliberately left out of games and/or ignored. This also includes spreading rumors about someone that is not true or telling others a secret they promised not to tell.
With the invention of the wonderful Internet and World Wide Web, cyber-bullying is born. Harassing someone through text, chat, emails, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking sites is considered cyber-bullying.
Many adults—this includes school officials as well—believe that bullying is just a phase a child may be going through. “Boys will be boys.” “They are just horsing around.” “They didn’t mean it.” These are their responses until someone commits suicide or kills someone due to the anguish after years of harassment and ridicule.
The most heartbreaking scene from “Bully” was when the assistant principal from one of the stories insisted that two boys shake hands after what one can only speculate was a fight during recess. At first, I was confused as who was the bully and who was the victim. However, as the scene progressed, it became evident that the victim was the one being berated for his unwillingness to shake hands with the boy who had just bullied him. The school administrator wanted to be fair, but her actions just enabled the bully and validated the victim’s feelings of helplessness and being alone.
I became very irritated with this administrator after Alex’s parents (one of the characters in this film) seeked counsel after finding out the level of bullying Alex had experienced. Alex’s mom requested Alex switch buses. The assistant principal’s reply was that she has ridden on that route many times and the children are as “good as gold,” and then redirected their attention to her grandchildren.
Is it because bullying, like many of forms of violence (sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence), is simply a subject too hard to resolve and no one has a clue about where to start or what to do? Many schools have anti-bullying policies, but do they follow the protocols when they’re aware of a student being bullied?
My sister was a victim of bullying. Every day, she would tell me stories of how girls at school would spread rumors about her, harass her on Facebook or Twitter. They even went as far as to create a burn page on Facebook and attributed my sister as the creator. This happened when she was away for the weekend with her friends, without internet access. This had been going on since the start of high school. The reasons for bullying? She was dating someone they liked. And when she did break up with her boyfriend, it was because she was the ex of someone else’s boyfriend. She was also nominated for Homecoming and a student body position.
A couple of months ago, I answered the phone at my mom’s house. It was the principal of my sister’s high school. He informed me that my sister had bullied a couple of girls at school through Twitter. She was calling them names and making derogatory remarks. He stated that CHS takes bullying—especially cyber-bullying—very seriously, so if she does it again, she’ll not graduate from high school this year.
I asked my sister what happened when she came home from school. She informed me that the girls who were bullying her had attacked her on Twitter (as they always did) the night before. She got tired of their constants harassment that she finally counter-attacked by calling them names. They made copies of my sister’s tweets, deleted their Twitter account, and showed the copies to the school administrators. When my sister argued with the principal that they started harassing her first, he basically told her that he wasn’t going to believe her if she didn’t have any concrete proof and warned her that if it happens again, she wasn’t going to graduate.
Of course, CHS takes bullying very seriously, however, they failed to investigate who was the primary bully in my sister’s case. I believe this is the problem school officials have when it comes to bullying. Who is the bully and who is the victim? Growing up, my friends and I have always joked that if your sibling hits you, never hit them back because mothers will almost always witness the person hitting back, but never the person who hit first. And it’s quite true. When the bully victim takes matters into his/her own hands by retaliating in some form, the bully gets away and the victim gets punished.
Bullying can lead to severe consequences: suicide and school shootings. And it is after these tragic events that people will ask “Why?”
I was bullied in high school. During my first week of freshman year in high school, my boyfriend asked me what did I do to a certain group of senior girls because he heard they wanted to jump me. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, barely starting high school and trouble was already brewing. The next day, a girl I was friendly with told me that her friends wanted to jump me for no apparent reason. Well, needless to say, more and more people started asking what did I do to these girls because they were enraged with me.
I took piano class 2nd period. It was a laid back class where you could either sit around and chit-chat or practice on the keyboard. One morning, as I was chatting with a classmate, a group of girls walked into the room and aggressively looked around the room. Somewhere in my gut, I knew they were looking for me. I confirmed later on that they came in to see how I looked like. I could not understand what was going on. They wanted to jump me but didn’t know me and have never seen me before. I also didn’t know them and have never seen them either.
I finally confronted them. Meek and trembling, I asked them what I had done to them to want to physically hurt me. The leader of the pack was actually very nice. She said that someone had told them I was talking shit about them. I told her know that I don’t know them and have no idea what they were talking about. And then she dropped the name: it was the same girl who told me that her friends wanted to jump me.
I thought this girl (let’s call her C) was my friend, but it was clear that she wasn’t. So I steered clear of her from then on. C was a two-face. Whenever she was alone, she’d be nice to me. However, when she was with her friends, she would try to intimidate me through glares and stares and spread rumors about me. I had my wonderful friend, Sam, to stand up for me. Every time I was around Sam, this girl didn’t dare bully me. And this was because Sam had told her off. You see, Sam and C lived in the same neighborhood. While walking home one day, C started up a conversation with Sam. After a while, C turned the topic to me. She remarked that I was this [blank] and that [blank]. Sam responded that C was talking about her friend and she didn’t appreciate it, throwing a threat or two in there as well. And from then on, C never bothered me when Sam was around.
Having a friend to validate you and stand up for you is the greatest thing that could happen to a bully victim. I am very grateful to have Sam during high school. Where would I have been without my friends?
So, what can you do if you witness or know someone who is being bullied. Stand up for that person. Tell the bully that his/her behavior is not acceptable. Let the victim know that it’s never their fault. No one deserves to be treated this way. Talk to the victim. Be their friend. Then let school officials, or a trusted adult, know.
If you want more information, you can go on these websites: