Category Archives: Parenting

Pharkaunu

Standard

Pharkaunu translates as to return or to come back. I suppose that is a fitting title for my returning post. I’ve been absent for a couple of months, mostly because of a dose of heartbreak and the simultaneous injection of extra work that came around the same time.

First of all, Shiva has taken off back East. I suppose I should be glad that when I say East, I’m referring to the Eastern coast of the US and not all the way back to Nepal, but really I’m just bummed that he’s gone. He got a scholarship deal he couldn’t pass up and in less than a month of telling me about it, he packed up all but the two boxes still at my place and jumped on a one way plane flight. Plenty of tears, him, my daughter, me…its been hard. We talk most every day for hours at a time and still support each other emotionally, but there is something about going to sleep every night far away from your love that is painful.
My little one is very upset. She spends much of her time lamenting Shiva’s absence and the new default cry for when she isn’t getting her way is “I want Shiva back.” Thankfully, he is respecting his roll in her life to the greatest degree he ever has. When he calls and she wants to talk he has meaningful loving conversations with her. When she is sobbing for him and refuses to eat or even get off the floor, he takes the call and calms her down and explains that he still loves her, but that he has to go to school. For some reason, she just needs to hear this from him. I couldn’t be any happier that he’s owning up to fulfilling the emotional needs she has developed for him.
At first I was really mad at him and slowly that anger turned to the sense of emptiness that I now feel. If I knew he was coming back, the pain would be less, but he promises never to return. He says he hated it here and is so glad he left. I’m not sure if its the optimist in me or the idiot that sits back and says, “he’s fickle, he’ll change his mind.” Maybe its both.
And as though the Universe was aware that this situation was going to be taxing, it felt necessary to throw on to me the additional work load that doubled the number of hours I spend working each week. Perhaps this is a gift in covering for the loss of Shiva’s financial support or maybe its a way for us all to take our mind off the pain. But it feels like just another test, another way for the Universe to remind me that I am capable of more than I want to be. A test to remind me that there are those things out of my control and that acceptance is the only path to peace. Perhaps its the anchor tying me down enough that I can’t follow Shiva across the country again because the Universe knows that isn’t the right path for me.
All I know is that for a few moments since August, I can breathe and welcome my return to normalcy.

Advertisements

Writing a Nepali/English Children’s Book

Standard

I’m putting this idea as a sounding board for ideas (and hopefully language corrections). As part of my teaching position, I am incorporating the Nepali language. My first lesson on this is in three weeks. I will be teaching basic colors. The colors I am teaching are black (Kalo), blue (nilo), green (hariyo), yellow (pahenlo), red (rato), and orange (suntala).

Since this is a baby book, think those thick board books that babies chew on, I’m planning on keep it very very simple. With hopes that nobody steals my book and sells it to a publisher, here’s the idea of the text.

Little baby on the first page, thinking to himself. “I am lonely, I am going to find some new friends.”

Next page, little baby meets a new baby and says “Hello baby, I see you are wearing a green shirt. I like hariyo. Let’s be friends.”

Opposing page.
Green shirt baby says to first baby. “I see you are wearing a kalo shirt. I like black. Yes, lets be friends.”

Turn page.
Green shirt baby meet a new baby. One says, “Hello saathi. I see you are wearing a pahelo shirt. I like pahelo. Let’s be friends.”

Opposing page.

“You like my yellow shirt? I like your hariyo shirt and your kalo shirt. Yes, lets be friends.”

Turn page.

Babies meet new baby. One says “K cha, saathi. I see you are wearing an orange shirt. Malai suntala rang man parcha. Let’s be friends.”

Opposing page.

“Timilai mero suntala rang ko shirt man parcha? I like your kalo shirt and your hariyo shirt and your panhelo shirt. Ho, lets be friends.”

turn page.

Babies meet new baby. One says, “Namaste bao. I see you are wearing a rato shirt.” Malai rato man parcha. Sathi haru garaam.”

Opposing page.

“You like my rato shirt? Malai timro kalo shirt , timro hariyo shirt and timro pahelo shirt pani mann parcha.  Sathi haru garaam.”

Last page.

First baby says. “Malai mero naya sathi haru man parcha, Yes I really like my new friends.”

So, my biggest question is…would “sathi haru garaam” be the best way to say, “let’s be friends”? Is bao the best way to spell baby in Nepali? And because I ALWAYS get mixed up between Malai, Timilai, and Maile, Timle…are those right? Is it right to use timi, or should I be using tapaii? Any other words of advice?

Copyleft: 2012
Creative Commons License
Timro man partun by Padmini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://padminisvorga.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/writing-a-nepalienglish-childrens-book/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.facebook.com/padmi.shivaya.

Low Class = Low Scores = Repeat Cyle

Standard

This is a response to Nepali Jiwan’s post about Nepali educational norms. 

Image

I’m also a teacher and its so disheartening in the US for teachers to be blamed for failing students. As for public schools having a wider range of demographics, I disagree. I can’t speak much for my new home as I haven’t been here long enough to develop an opinion but I can speak very clearly about my home state.

In that state, parents can get vouchers to send their kids to private school. So, if you have parents that care, chances are, you aren’t at a public school at all. Also, the parents that can afford it, just won’t even try public school. The result is that in most school districts in my home state (If memory from a semester ago is doing me justice the statistic is 68% for 2009 and 72% for 2010) serve households at or below the poverty level ($23,000 for a family of four). That means public schools have become the schools where the poor kids go.

Also in that state, school districts are drawn geographically and their funding is supported by property taxes. Short story, poor neighborhoods yield less property tax and have less funding although they usually have more students. So, poor districts have less money per school and even less money per student than their richer counterparts. This sort of socio-economic segregation is the new form of racial segregation.

The average school wide in my home state is 50% of students on free or reduced lunch. But when you adjust for districts, you’ll learn that my home county, the highest property taxes in the state has 30% of its students on free or reduced lunch, but the neighboring extremely low and extremely impoverished district has more than 90% students on free or reduced lunch. Really good teachers tend to work in higher paying districts, while younger less experienced teachers are left to tough it out in low paying, low priority districts.

The cycle for public school is really tough when you consider how many disabilities are present in my home state. Nearly 80% of students in public school in my home state are labeled with some sort of special need!!! Is it really likely that 80% of all kids have a disability? Well, part of the issue is that for each “special needs” student, the school gets more money. Teachers are working with insurmountable ratio difficulties, so if I child starts falling behind, the only way to get that child some one on one attention is to label them with a disability.

Then there are the physical problems. In those poor districts, many students come to school with less than 5 hours of sleep and no food in their bellies. So, even if they may perform on level if well fed and well rested, they definitely won’t without. The chances of abuse and neglect are much higher in these regions. When is Maslow’s Heirarchy going to make its way to education politicians?

Image 

In Florida, 1 in 155 child is Autistic. I don’t know how this number is so low (and its really not) because when I was teaching with a group of 27 other teachers, most of us had an Autistic child in our class. Our ratio averaged 1 teacher to 20 students. I know that definitely 9 teachers had at least one Autistic child in their class, 1 teacher at 2, and 1 teacher had an Autistic child. That’s 10 students in 560 students or 1 in 56. That’s A LOT! Is that just our district, I couldn’t tell you? 

But, I can tell you that in that state the C-section rate is 4 out of 10 births. The March of Dimes lists C-sections (especially due to birth inductions) is the highest cause of preterm and premature birth in the US. We do not currently know what impact this is having on learning a few years down the line because its yet to be studied. But, considering the highest risk you can be for having a c-section is socio-economic status, and in the public school settings I worked in, the highest indicator of being test and found to have a learning disability would be socio-economic status, there may be a link there. I’m implying correlation, not causation. 

In addition to the overwhelming c-section and lack of food/sleep risks to the low socio-economic students, there is the risk of a real disability. Miscarriage rates across the nation are 3 in 20 pregnancies. I know of much higher incidences in Florida and Mississippi. The physical proximity to large commercial dumping sites yield higher miscarriage rates, as high as 1 in 4 pregnancies (5 in 20 for you fraction challenged peeps). THAT IS HIGH! So what does it mean for the children that are born in those communities? They are at a higher risk for a defect. 

When whole communities are seeing education problems, lack of funding, lack of legislative support, lack of quality educators, and overworked quality educators…the powers that be ought to look for the source of the problem. In this case, I fear that teachers are being given a stacked deck and punished for losing. How can a classroom with such high chances of having economically disadvantaged, physically drained, unsupported, and physically disabled students and almost NO FINANCIAL RESOURCES be expected to compete with privatized programs where the wealthier healthier students have the freedom to thrive? 

I do believe the culture of narcissism has something to do with it, but I also believe there is a lot more at work. There is a cycle of punishing the poor for being poor. What is it Thomas Moore said in Utopia? “Who are the privileged to first make thieves and then punish them?” Who are the top tier to first create an untouchables class and then ridicule them?

Because I Can’t Say

Standard

Such a pathetic mess I am, to sit here crying for what I do not have.
Who I am to find this such a reasonable reason to cry?

Get up, move on, get over that man, he never deserved the devotion anyway.
All the logic doesn’t seem to negate, the feelings of pain that well up within me.
And if he knew, he’d just say that it isn’t real and that its okay, I’ll feel better about it someday.

Everyone can say the same, that its just a short untimely phase
of life that soon I’ll pass through unscathed.
But all I know is in this moment, I’m desperate for some faith.
That I moved to follow, move to be together
that I left my world behind in search of another
that I really do believe that the right choice was made
only to be deserted at this stage.

And even though its wrong, to wish ill on someone else, I hope he’s suffering in this moment in the way my heart is sinking.
I hope he’s crying too and realizing that his actions aren’t without their wrongs. And when my daughter wakes up in the morning and asks if we can see him again, I hope he’s hearing her words in his head knowing that I can understand, I can justify, I can comprehend why we’ve been denied.
But she only knows the man she loves and cares for, the man she looked up to and called daddy, must be hiding in a place so we can find.

How do I tell her that its not hide and seek, that he isn’t calling tonight, that we won’t be sharing dinner, or reading her bedtime stories together. That now its just her and I because the man we both loved is gone. How do I tell her that because she’s not his blood he doesn’t want her? That because she wasn’t born to him, he’ll never love her?

How do I look her in the eyes knowing full well that she wants to hear me say, “we are going to drive and see him, he’s coming home tonight, we need to get dinner ready and clean up because he’s coming home.” In her whole life, he’s the most she had for a father to love her and now he’s gone.

I can hold it together just long enough for her to say, “Mommy, I KNOW that today he’s coming home.” And then I sit here crying and feeling sorry for our life, feeling sad that I believed that finally we were blessed, that we’d be a family, and know how to be happy. Now I sit here crying because I know that all we’d believed in was a lie.

Aside

This comedic take on South-asian corporal punishment by Russel Peters and How the Establishment Thinks are in stark contrast. Now, I’m not suggesting that beating kids is funny. Of course it is a serious matter that affects children every year in horrible ways. I’m glad that we have watch groups because we really do need them. Unfortunately, the watch groups don’t always help the situation they are attempting to resolve. I also fear that they often act as cultural reform groups instead of child advocacy groups.

First, let me say that I am biased. I have had only one positive interaction with any child protective service. And that was primary based on me decision to move to a location where the local culture was more in line with my personal philosophies.

In the Southern United States, my experience with child protection was a pathetic excuse for child protection. What it really was, was the enforcement of local cultural norms in the name of child safety. For one, as a child I needed child protection to keep a three time sexual offender away. He was on probation when he committed his sexual offences on my less than 10 year old self. And although he confessed to his crimes, he was ultimately let free after one year in jail. Why? Because the local child protection team had failed to do their jobs properly. Oh and another thing…they repeatedly blamed me for “seducing” said child molester. Because you know, children are such great tools of seduction.

Moving on into adulthood when I had my own child. I learned that child protection teams in that region of the south are also forces to be used by men in custody battles. These agencies will suggest that they are attempting to balance out the fact that “women make too many false claims in divorces.” Well, attempting to balance out statistics instead of viewing each individual case on its merits doesn’t make for a good investigation. This agency wasted the better part of six months investigating extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping, elimination communication, and the general concept of attachment parenting because in that community the norm is beating/abusing/molesting your child and the weird thing is to actually consciously parent your child. In fact that regions senior director of the child protection team was arrested last year for molesting more than 100 of the children that were being investigated for abuse they suffered. I wish I could say I was making this up.

Moving on to when culture and norms collide. These social norm enforcing teams waste no time in prosecuting immigrant families and other racial groups (read: not white people) for abusing their children because their form of corporal punishment involved a smack to the head and not a spank on the rear. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its okay to punch your child in the face. I have witnessed these head smacks and it is hardly cruel and unusual punishment. I’d have to say some of the tortuous tasks of hours of violin playing listed in the book Tiger Mom was more emotionally abusive and damaging than the sort of corporal punishment I’m referring to.

I was hit as a child and I don’t think that I have suffered any serious damage from most of the hitting I went through. I wouldn’t ever strike my child in many of the ways I was stricken. I strongly believe that using instruments is wrong. I was belted, whipped, smacked with spoons and paddles, and switched. For those of you that don’t know what a switch is, consider yourself lucky. But I do believe that to label all forms of corporal punishment other than butt spanking is paramount to cultural norm enforcement and not child protection. Why is smacking a kid’s head worse than bruising their rear just because of where the striking took place? When the smack to the child’s head didn’t result in any damage and definitely not bruising.

Its a big fat gray line on where and how to strike a child and how and when its okay. But I definitely think that some Asian families have a reason to fear where many white families don’t. For instance, whites that were born and raised here get to benefit from cultural privilege. They are going to be perceived as a more typical parent. In addition with fluent English skills comes another preference. When an investigator is having difficulty communicating with the parents, they are going to be naturally prejudiced. Who knows how to draw this line? I draw it at using weapons and leaving swelling and bruising. That’s unacceptable in my eyes.

But butt spanking?

Co-sleeping & Why I Think Asian Parents are Right about It

Standard

this site includes a lot of information and how disinformation spreads about co-sleeping.

I’ve read a number of blog posts about how silly or obsessive or even dangerous it is when traditional Asian parents believe that all babies belong in bed next to mom. I have to agree with them that they do. Unfortunately, western cultures often follow the belief that bed sharing is dangerous for the infant. This “truth” isn’t easy to claim. In some situations bed sharing can be very dangerous, especially when one or both of the parents is drinking or on drugs. Smoking even poses a risk through third hand smoke.

The site linked above includes a lot more information about why those risks are pretty much the only risks regarding co-sleeping. But really babies throughout human history have been accustomed and biologically programmed to be sleeping near mom. If you take out the past 100 years of modern western culture, before a time of cribs and diapers, there was breastfeeding and chamber pots.

In many third world countries, this is still the case. Therefore the best way to keep a baby alive, clean, and cared for is to bed share (which is commonly misnomer-ed and referred to as co-sleeping). I doubt many will argue the benefits of breastfeeding, although many will claim they tried everything, I wonder if they did try unrestricted access to nursing. What do I mean by unrestricted access? I mean, bed-sharing where baby could nurse all long if they desired, which I promise you a newborn will do, if given the chance. All this bed sharing nursing in addition to eight weeks (you read that right, not the six weeks common to many westerners view of maternity leave) of nursing on demand, meaning mom and breast (not person with bottle of pumped milk) must be available for the baby.

This leads me to another commonly held Asian parent belief that new mothers should rest in bed with the new baby for the first two-three months. I’ve heard (and read) a fair bit about women complaining that this outdated practice “confines” them to their beds or homes and they are ready to break free. I don’t doubt that. And I do understand cabin fever and believe that women (even newborn mothers) ought to be able to get a break from time to time. However, the belief that mom needs to be at the beck and call of the infant is really to both the mother’s and infant’s benefit. Mom needs rest. The weeks after birth are incredibly important for bonding/attachment, hormone regulation, milk supply establishment, emotional recovery, and physical recovery. Allowing (some might say pushing) mom to stay home and relax helps encourage these important postpartum events to be positive. I’ve even read on nepalijiwan’s blog about Nepal folk wisdom that new mothers are given food that includes fenugreek, which is often recommended to increase milk supply.

So before you knock another “traditional Asian” parenting method, consider that maybe there is some value to the perspective.