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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Do you know what an ABC is?

Parents by nature tend to be very competitive when it comes their children, and this is especially true in the Chinese culture. We recently spent two and half months in Asia visiting with our families. We split time between tropical paradise where rats are bigger than cats (if you have read the last post, you will know what I mean) and a mega metropolis where the politicians are known to be the rats. In case you wonder why I am mentioning rats in such frequencies, well it’s because this is the year of the rat in the Chinese zodiac calendar.
My son is classified as an ABC which stands for American Born Chinese. He is also the first grandson on both sides of our family. Since he is male, his status is even more elevated in the traditional Chinese family. Naturally our little son received the royal red carpet treatment. His grandparents are practically slaves to him. I have to say that these few months abroad, he was indeed spoiled.
(There is a starlet in this upcoming movie hit who relates to the story below. She is half ABC)

He won’t pick up after himself after meals, and his attention span is almost non-existent. Before the trip, he was able to spend at least 30 minutes focus on lessons that mommy had assigned. Right now, it will be lucky if it’s 3 minutes. I blame this on the glitters, lights and never ending commercial bounded cities of Asia. He is four now and in about 6 months, he will turn 5 which mean it’s time for school. The concern is that next time when we fly back to Asia, we are afraid his grandparents can’t brag about how good he is in school, how many different musical instruments he can play, how talented he is and etc since he won’t even concentrate for more than 3 minutes nowadays.
ABC’s are known to be very distinguished and almost a renaissance group. They are multi-talented in academics, arts and sometimes even sports especially during the recent decades. The last twenty years have produced the likes of Michelle Kwan the Olympic Figure skater, Michael Chang the tennis player, Jerry Yang of Yahoo, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, and the list goes on. These are just some individuals who are famous and have achieved greatness here in the United States. There are also another group of ABC who went back to Asia and has gone on to have successful careers and among them singer song writer, actor Alexander Wang Lee Hom. He was born and grew up in New York. He was 18 when he made a trip back to Taiwan to visit his grandparents. While in Taiwan, he recorded a song and the rest was history. Along with good looks, he is also multi-talented with ability to write, sings, danced and able to play up to ten different types of musical instruments. (Watch Him below)

He is exactly the type of standard that a lot of Asian moms would want their son grow up to be and FOR GOODNESS’ sake, WHO wouldn’t??? Heck! I want to be like him too.Our son’s grandparents are no exception to these exuberant expectations. They want there grandson to grow up to be super humans so that they can of course brag about them. While we were in Asia, we already saw a glimpse of this show and tell. Grannies would opportunistically and shamelessly parade there grandson to meet there friends follow by a methodically casual intro of this is my grandson who just came back from America. He is only 4 but can speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin.
The expectations are guaranteed to grow by leaps and bounds as our little boy grows older. We contemplated deeply on our 16 hour flight home from Asia. From tropical paradise to metropolis and back to the land where our son is born, these expectations are lofty but achievable if we are willing to sacrifice here and there. The next question would be… is it worth the sacrifice?

Tune in next time.


Jeff Chung said...

I am a CBC myself and I know exactly what you mean.

Hubie said...

Cool videos. Who is she?

Brenda Lu said...

Wow..this guy is really talented. I can barely handle one instrument.

Lian said...

I thought ABC was "air batu campur" :)
You should be grateful that the grandparents say good things about your son. Better than the ones that say "Aiyoh, my grandson sooooo naughty you know." Anyway, like you say, we asians can be a "kiasu" lot. If you decide not to join the competition, I'm sure your son will be better for it.

Spicegirl said...

Very good post and very nice video. Good to know about ABCs.Have a good weekend!

Mark Lai said...

I am an ABC myself and I know the pressure that comes along with it. Thanks for the posting.

Gina Hu said...

It's always worth the sacrifice when you look back. I have a 24 year old who would be graduating from Harvard soon. We both work extra shifts to make sure he can finish school.

Kimberly from Utah said...

What a wonderful story you have here and I sincerly belive it is and will be all worth it.

katy said...

I have ABC kids, and know what you mean. But I refuse to pressure my kids just to let grandparents, even myself have bragging rights. My kids are not about what they can achieve. I wrote about this on my site http://www.adventuresinparenting.org/2007/12/06/what-do-we-want-our-kids-to-be/

Pete Aldin said...

I think it's wonderful to give our kids as many opportunities as we can afford. But to forcefully create Leonardo DaVinci's out of them seems a little sad to me.

It ain't easy to resist our parents' (the grandparents) expectations for our kids but it's worth it. :)

I gotta admit, though, if he's already speaking 3 languages, he's two up on me!

Lim Ee Hai said...

We are human afterall. The progress of developing a child takes time and effort. It is the aim of being a parent. What do they want? That is the question. By seeing a child grow physically and mentally, after all the effort, will be worth the sacrifices if guided properly. Nothing ventured, nothing gain! Just do our best as parent. I am a maths teacher and I see all sort of kids. People are still people. Have a heart to develop human is my main objective to contribute back to society. Cheers! From:
Principle of Mathematics

Liara Covert said...

Interesting perspectives are offered. As it happens, my brother-in-law is Chinese and his wife is blond with blue eyes. Both individuals are talented in their specialized medical fields. One thing I have learned is that my brother in-law was a child musical prodigy. He was and still is an incredible pianist. I sense this is his passion, yet he gave it up years ago to pursue medicine because he feared not succeeding in the Arts. I'm well aware of the pressures people feel to "succeed." This is often grounded in materialistic expectations, vision of status and lifestyle. What people don't always realize is different kinds of rewarding experiences await you when you learn to step back and resist the influence of ego. I wonder if you ever read any books by Adeline Yen Mah? her autobiography Falling Leaves is an international bestseller.