Lying to Our Kids

When I was five, I got really sick.

I was stuck in bed for at least three weeks. It was awful- no school (which for me was terrible), no sports (even worse), no birthday parties, play dates, or batting practice. I’m not sure what kind of illness plagued me, but I do remember making everyone in my house miserable. And my mom felt bad, so she did something that might be frowned upon.

A week before I got sick, our local grocery store hosted a coloring contest. To enter, you had to take a booklet of coloring and activities home, complete all of it, and bring it back to the store. I remember a little box covered in yellow paper with a slot that perfectly fit the booklets. I spent so much time finishing that booklet, coloring in the lines, making sure all the puzzles were done correctly. When it was finished, my mom took it to the store and turned it in without much thought. I have never been the artist in the family. Then I got sick.

lamb chops

My mom decided I would feel better if I thought that I had won the contest. The theme was a 90s television show called “Lamb Chops Play-Along” that featured four sock puppets- a lamb, Lamb Chops, and his other animal friends. Remember that song, “This is the song that never ends…” I learned that on “Lamb Chops.” My mom bought four puppets just like the characters on the show, a new coloring book, a poster, and card that she signed with the main characters’ signatures. She told me I won the contest. I did feel better, excited about the recognition.

The next day, the store called to tell me that I had won the contest. They wanted me to meet the manager in her office so she could take a picture and give me my prizes. My mom had to make something up- “you won the grand prize!” Of course, I was ecstatic that there was another level of winning. That meant my work had been selected from a big pool, and then from another more elite pool of entries. And the prize was even better- more puppets, two posters, autographs from the cast, and even a gift certificate to the store. I did feel better, my mom’s plan had worked.

Years later, my mom told me what really happened. “I did it to myself,” she laughed. “You can’t lie to your kids.”

The reason I’m remembering this story at this time is because of the Golden State Sacred project. The mobile exhibit that depicts California’s religious and interreligious history. The exhibit depicts some communities that have been mostly unrecognized in California. It also tells histories that are uncomfortable. We have a hard time grappling with violence, oppression, internment, and surveillance. Dehumanization. But we have to face the histories that make us uncomfortable. The question is- what is “lying to our kids” in his scenario? Is there an appropriate age to talk about genocide? Rape? Considering a group of people sub-human because of their skin color or religion?

I don’t know how not to lie, because it seems as though sugarcoating these histories is worse than not sharing at all. Maybe the best goal is to simply spark questions and modes of thinking that encourage multiple narratives in one story.

This song, thankfully, ends.

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30

Yep, 1-8-18 was yesterday. Which is exactly 30 years from 1-8-88 (my birthday). I am now 30.

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Photo by Johannes Wredenmark on Unsplash

My mom suggested I start telling people that I’m 30 about six months ago.”It’ll help you avoid the shock,” she encouraged. She did the same this year…I’ll refrain from revealing her age, though I definitely believe she looks and acts much younger.

I felt sad for a while. My twenties saw tons of changes and growth. And mistakes. At first I feared that turning thirty meant giving up certain arbitrary habits and practices. Admittedly, some things are more difficult. A hangover, I imagine, is much less pleasant than at 21. Perhaps.

As you might know from previous writing, I struggled with my weight this year. After running the Boston Marathon, it felt like my body clung to the extra pounds that it needed to run 26.2 miles. I experienced shame and frustration and in the darkest moments, exasperation and used foods I know are bad for me as an excuse. “It doesn’t matter,” I thought. I’d rather enjoy this than deprive myself for nothing.

I’m on day 10 of the Whole 30 program, a 30-day lifestyle change that focuses on eating only whole foods and thinking differently about dessert as reward, or weight loss as the true goal for achieving health (for example. There’s plenty of useful pillars and ideas of the program). I decided to spend the first month of 2018 saying yes to what I know is nourishing, instead of feeling left out of what I can’t eat or do (like eat cake on my birthday). It sounds really corny, but this mentality brought me some joy as I said goodbye forever to my 20s. There are so many things I CAN do as a 30-year-old. For example:

-I can rock pink pants as well/better than when I was 18. Style never dies.

-I can sing in the shower as loud as I want.

-I can start reflecting on my twenties and realize how far I’ve come.

Thankfully, I don’t feel constrained to a timeline. Five of my friends got engaged in the month of December. More and more of my friends are having children. Some of them have started and built companies. Some have finished graduate school. Some are sitting in uncertainty and that’s totally fine. I’ve been there. I am there! I’m not in a hurry. As hard as it is, comparison only serves to discourage us.

You know what has been a real blessing over the past decade? The amount of fine people I’ve met in a myriad of ways. I was reminded of that yesterday when people actually called (yes- CALLED) and texted and messaged to say they were thinking of me.

I’m still totally confused about my life and what I want to do when I grow up. My life has some surface level certainty for the moment (I know where and when my classes are and what work I need to do each night) but the realization that there is no age in which we “know” life’s structure and methods is liberating. Perhaps I can stop searching. For now, I’ll enjoy some of the delicious fried plantains Jose made yesterday, because I CAN eat them (and now they’re all gone. Yum).

#ITFDB

Baseball season is over. My family will enjoy the rest of college football and count down to bowl month. We will also stuff ourselves with lasagna and cheesecake for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s tradition.

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The day Clayton Kershaw pitched a full game in 99 degree weather.

Full vulnerability moment- I was sad yesterday when the Dodgers lost. That is an understatement. I was an absolute wreck. Today I threw myself into reading about medieval saints in Sicily and Augustine. It helped, albeit mildly.

I tried to avoid social media and focus on my own life- what I actually have control over. Then I went on Reddit/Dodgers and watched a video of the highlights from the season. And I sobbed again.

This was a special season. The last time the Dodgers went to the World Series, I was nine months old and Kirk Gibson hit a walk-off homerun to win the first game. This year, on the exact same day, Justin Turner did the same thing to win game 3 of the NLCS. Apart from that, I went to 14 games- 12 regular season, 1 playoff, and the first game of the World Series. Each game was unique. Records were broken. Clayton Kershaw pitched a full game in 99 degree weather as we sweated in the Loge. My sister finally got her UFO ice cream sandwich. My dad and I laughed uncontrollably when Yasiel Puig licked his bat (something that would make several folx a heck of a lot of t-shirt money).

I watched the Dodgers lose twice at home. I got frustrated during the losing streak. I got to know the players, their significant others, their hilarious mannerisms. The players, a group of unlikely rookies and unknowns, all pointed to the press box when Vin Scully called his last game after 67 years. I cried when Dave Roberts talked openly about losing his father, because someone very, very close to me lost his father this year too.

Baseball season marked my move back to California after five years. I spent more time with my best friends and my family than I have since college. The final loss debilitated me- it seemed like the stars had aligned just to be shattered. But I realized after watching that short video that I would have been sad regardless. It meant the end of a really special time, the dog days of summer transitioning into a beautiful fall in Los Angeles. My home.

I remember my first Dodger game. I was seven, and my dad took me to a Sunday day game. Hideo Nomo, one of the first Japanese players in the major leagues, pitched. My dad asked me to translate the fan’s signs in Japanese. We sat in the top deck with barely anyone around, and my dad made sure I could sit in the shade so my skin wouldn’t burn. A father and son sat behind us, and after chatting for a few innings, he gave us his business card and a coupon for a free light bulb at his hardware store. That game marked the beginning of my love for the Dodgers, and baseball as an “intellectual” sport. As a softball player for fourteen years, I live for the statistical analyses and the situations of every play. My dad used to quiz me in the car before my games. “Runners on second and third, one out. Where does the center fielder throw?”

I feel lucky to have a story like that. My dad and I still laugh about the light bulb salesman, and he still quizzes me. It’s interesting to read the theories about sports as a kind of religion. I see some similarities. Community especially.

I do hope one day I’ll get to see the boys in blue win the Series. Regardless, I know I’ll get to the ravine next summer and hopefully every summer after that. Congratulations to both teams, it was a fantastic World Series. I leave you with the words of the great Vin Scully:

May God give you, for every storm, a rainbow; for every tear, a smile; for every care, a promise; and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sees, a faithful friend to share; for every sigh, a sweet song, and an answer for each prayer. You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know, in my heart, I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me, and I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But, you know what, there will be a new day, and, eventually, a new year, and when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, ooh, rest assured, once again, it will be time for Dodger baseball.