Sunday, February 8, 2009

Teaching Opportunity

I'm not the best mom.  I'm going to say that right here so none of you think I'm on some sort of soap-box.  But, when opportunities come that I can teach my children manners, or tolerance, or patience, or respect, or love, I like to think that  I take advantage of those opportunities.  These are the priceless moments that I feel we connect and we are in understanding of one another, and that I truly am fit to be their mom.

I was at my parent's house unloading things from my van (Oh, yes, I am a minivan driving Asian--have you seen me?) when I heard:

"Konnichiwaaaaaa!" (snicker, snicker)

Did I just hear what I thought I just heard?

"Konnichiwaaaaaa!" (snicker, snicker)

Yes, I did just get heckled by a bunch of pre-teen boys across the street. Normally, this wouldn't make me mad, but my parents lived there, and I was upset that the neighbor's kids would disrespect people because of their ethnicity. It is hard enough being in a country, speaking a different language, adjusting to a different culture. The last thing my parents needed was to be jeered by some punk neighbor kid. I had two choices: I could ignore it and by so doing condone his actions, or I could confront him.

I marched my flat Asian bum over to the house. The youth, not expecting me to be so bold, scurried inside. I knocked on the door and waited until the mother answered.

"Hi. My name is [Token Asian Friend]. My parents live across the street. One of the kids in your garage just said an Asian word to me in a very condescending way..."

"What did he say?" she asked defensively.

"He said 'Konnichiwa'."

"I don't know that language. What is that supposed to mean?"

"Well, it means hello in Japanese. But, it was not what he said, but the way he said it."

"How did he say it?"

(Please, lady, do I really have to do this?) "Um...Konnichiwaaaaaaa."

"Which kid was it?"

"I don't know which kid said it, I just heard it."

The boys were now group together in the room behind her, listening and laughing.

"Oh, then it probably was my son's friend. I can't do anything about that. You'll have to go talk to his mom."

Too bad.  It could have been such a good teaching moment.


Kristina P. said...

Well, nice try, anyway!!

Trisha said...

i love your mom. and i love that you are so bold.

Pam C. said...

I think you taught your kids a much better lesson than that other mom taught her son...

Kemi said...

When my kids have friends over to play, those friends have to abide by our house rules. Whether or not this woman was the other kid's mother, it was HER house, and she wouldn't have been out of line to correct both of them.

What a shame she let that lesson go.

kellebelle said...

Well said. I admire your boldness. Maybe later that Mom went back and realized she missed a great opportunity. Maybe it was a teaching moment for her??? You never know. And even though the kid's mom didn't say anything, at least by going over there you showed them it was wrong. Either way, you rock.

P.S.Why was she trying to protect him anyway? What did she think you were going to do to him? Call the cops? Kung fu? Honestly!

Token Asian Friend said...

I know! I totally didn't even whip my nunchuks around that much!

that raven chick said...

TAF, just when I was about to delete my blog, I saw your comments. my jaws popped open, and the only thing(s) holding them together were the elastics for my braces. No, really. My life has always been a perfect grave yard of buried hopes, until you came along and scattered glimers of hope.

Im sorry, am I being a little too dramatic?

Token Asian Friend said...

If by dramatic you mean totally appropriate and completely understandable, yes.

Anonymous said...

OH MY WORD what a pathetic response from that mom. Just so you know, if you'd knocked on my door I would have made all the boys come apologize.

Laurie said...

That neighbor mom is a wimp. Not surprising that her son would be so openly, racially rude.

I have a flat bum, too, and I'm not Asian. I like to think it's flat because I'm so talented and smart. I'm positive there's a correlation.

StuTheWise said...

My father is about as white as they get. He burns after three seconds of exposure to the sun. It might have something to do with the fact that he married a Filipino girl, or the exposure he got traveling the world while in the Navy, but I've never met someone so intolerant of racism in my life.

This total intolerance has made me a horrible father myself, because had somebody knocked on my door and said what you said, I would have marched my son right out, had him apologize for allowing his friends (assuming he denied being the one) to make such comments when he's there and able to put a stop to it, then yelled at all his friends to get the *$#! out of my house because their filthy, disgusting, nasty selves will not be tolerated anywhere near my property. Then I would have done things to my son that only a horrible, discipline-believing father would do.

On the other hand, if I were a bigoted, ignorant piece of garbage not worthy of being spat upon, then I probably would have reacted the same way that woman did.

melmommy said...

hopes and dreams...I am in the depths of despair.

WHAT? I want to write a book called, "the death of reason". This woman missed a perfect opportunity to not only teach her own son, but also, ya know, the whole "it takes a village thing". Teach them about respect and appreciation for others. Too bad...and if I could borrow some inspirational lyrics from the 80's. "Could've been so beautiful...could've been so right..blah, blah, blah!" I'll stop now!