Since Ed passed away, more and more, I’ve withdrawn information from my mom. I’ve realized that the more I share with her, the more she will get angry about or use against me, or accuse me of “not having wisdom” to make the right choices in life, and so there’s really no point in sharing too much information with her. While I’m not as closed off as Chris is in sharing “on a need to know basis,” I try to limit details with her as much as possible. And of course, she knows this and gets frustrated with this, always ending our short conversations with, “That’s it?” or “You have nothing else to tell me?” but honestly, it’s better for my sanity and for keeping safe boundaries from her.
The most annoying part is that even totally benign, unrelated-to-me topics end up angering her, and then lo and behold, she takes them out on none other than…. me! My paranoid personality disorder, borderline narcissistic mother takes every tiny thing personally and as though it’s an attack on her. She frequently asks how my friend’s baby is doing. I told her that she’s just turned six months and is about to begin eating solid food. In addition to that, she’s already started swim lessons, and she’s not scared of the water at all. My mom had a very strong, negative reaction against this.
“What kind of a stupid thing is that?” she raised her voice. “The baby was just born a few months ago and you want her to go into water? What are they trying to do — KILL HER? In my culture, we never do such stupid things as White people! Your generation just doesn’t have any sense at all!”
Well, that escalated really quickly. And when did this become a showdown regarding Asian vs. White culture????
My mom really has no sense of reality. She’s never been exposed to the fact that the earlier you teach kids something, the better. I mean, that’s probably why she tried to stunt my growth and my brother’s in so many ways in a futile attempt to “protect” us from the outside world. She has no idea that many babies and toddlers learn to swim in controlled, supervised settings, and this actually happens every single day all around the world.
Stupidly as per usual, I tried to explain to my mom that babies live in a water sac for nine months; therefore, water is natural to them, and the earlier they learn, the better. And this is when she REALLY started raising her voice, telling me I had no idea what I was talking about and “just believe what stupid people in this generation believe. But you can do what you want — it’s your life and your future.”
Well, actually, it’s my friend’s kid’s life and my friend’s kid’s future, and if anything, she will be set up to swim well at a young age and never have to endure the insufferably embarrassing experience that I went through, going to public swim lessons at age 15 with a bunch of 3-5-year-olds as my “peers.”
All the “basic” skills that kids are usually taught quite young, and usually by their parents or via lessons, I never had. My parents never taught me how to ride a bike or swim. My dad said I could “teach myself” how to ride a bike (very encouraging, as you can tell), and swimming, well, who needs to learn that? It was all so strange when I started meeting all these other kids who shared that their parents taught them these things or put them in lessons because not only did their parents actually take the time to teach them, but they asked me why my parents never taught me and why I didn’t know how to do all these basic things. It felt very alienating, frustrating, and embarrassing.
To this day, I’m still not fully steady on a bike, and thus there’s no way in hell I’d ever ride a bike on any city street. I’m still scared of deep water and have never properly learned how to breathe during free-style. I hope my future children will have these skills, though, and never be subject to embarrassment because of not knowing soon enough.