not the nanny

I alway knew it would happen one day … being mistaken for the nanny.

To me, my boys look half-Asian, half-white. They’ve inherited my features, particularly, LittleR Dude. There should be no question that I played a big part in producing them just by looking at them. But, I also know that some people don’t see what I see. A few just can’t get beyond me being Filipina. And, let’s face it. I live in a neighbourhood/town where Filipina nannies abound.

So why did the moron who came to my door asking to speak to the “owner of the house” surprise me? It more than surprised me. I was livid. Even as I type this post, I can feel the loathing for that man rising up again.

People have come to the door before. I saw how their eyes travelled past me, searching for clues, their minds churning, wondering if I was the hired-help and trying to find the right words to begin the conversation. But most recover from their initial hesitation, especially after hearing me speak. Most assume that I am the owner and begin their pitch as usual. At worst, I would get asked, “Are you the owner of the house?” … until the moron came to my door a few days ago.

The moron took a second to assess me and concluded (even as my two boys were yelling, “Mommy, mommy. Who’s that?”) that I was not the owner of my house. And his visit took me back to place I had not been in a very long time.

Later that night, I thought about my childhood and about immigrating to Canada at age 9 … and hearing the “Chinese-Japanese-Dirty knees” chant for the first time. I didn’t get it, at first. It didn’t register right away that the chant was directed at me. I wasn’t Chinese or Japanese. And, anyway, every other kid I knew had dirty knees from playing. What was the big deal?

When I finally clued in to the racist nature of the chant, it cut deep, though I didn’t let it show. I walked away and didn’t respond. I had been teased by my own siblings for looking more Chinese than Filipina. They, my brothers mostly, teased me about my eyes being slanted. I had been honed early on to take the teasing in stride.

The night the moron came to my door, I remembered how I was continually mocked by the only other Asian kid in my elementary class … Gillian Wong. I didn’t understand why she was so mean to me then. We should have been friends, bonded by the mere fact that we looked alike … that we looked different from the rest of the class.

Many years later, I realized that she must have seen me differently. I was the immigrant Asian … the one with “dirty knees” that the childhood rhyme was mocking. I represented the group of people that she had probably been battling to disassociate herself from. She did not see herself as being one of those people. Eventually, I learned to ignore her ridicule and steered clear from her and her elite group of white friends. I made my own friends.

In high school, my tongue became sharper. I remember walking home after school. There was a girl walking ahead of me. When I got closer, she stopped, turned around and asked if I had come to Canada “on a boat”. I don’t think she was trying to be funny or hurtful. It was a simple question to her. She just wanted to know. But that didn’t matter to me. I felt immediate hate for this girl. “You’re ignorant. We came by plane,” I barked back and even added, “We rode First Class!” (a lie) and kept on walking without waiting for a response.

These memories … my early experiences of intolerance and ignorance … are what the moron took me back to when he came to the door.

I like to think I’ve come a long way from the sorry-looking immigrant girl with black as black hair, scrapes on her knees and no-name, hand-me-down clothes. Most people would never guess that English wasn’t my first language, now.

When the moron who lives across the street came to my door asking to speak to the owner of the house not once but twice, I was enraged. It has been decades since high school. His ignorance shocked me. I wasn’t expecting it.

Lucky for us both, my old self-preservation strategies kicked in. I kept the conversation polite but brief. In all honesty, I think I remained calm mostly because my kids were also at the door. Who knows? We might have had a different conversation had I been alone. It was also way past the boys’ bath/bedtime and I felt a greater need to keep the conversation short than to provide neighbour-to-neighbour etiquette training to the crazy moron. But mostly, I think I just couldn’t be bothered.

I don’t think the moron really meant to insult me but his words … his ignorance … anger me still. He will never be welcomed in our home. But why?

I always knew that one day I would be mistaken for the nanny. He only proved that I was right.

1975 passport photo

still searching for my happy place

My latest Facebook status:

Dear Moron fr across the street: If it wasn’t bad enough that you rang the doorbell at 8:30pm interrupting bath/bedtime, but, honestly, what f***ing planet are you on to ask, “Um. Can I talk to the owner of the house?” Did the half-Asian boys next to me yelling, “Mommy, mommy. Who’s that?” not clue you in? And, f**k no! You can’t come in to see what the landscapers are doing in the back. Stupid ass, moron!!!!

Sometimes, I wish I could just be this frank with people in person. I’m still stunned from this evening’s encounter with my new neighbour. The hubby is out-of-town and I only have the blogosphere (and Facebook) to rant to so here goes.

Yes, it began as I said above. The doorbell rang. My boys were shouting “Mommy, mommy. Who’s that?” as I opened the door. A short man in his late 30s-40s stood there. Who knows? Maybe he was even 50 something. I can’t tell how old morons are these days.

The moron stood there looking at me and the boys.

“Yes?”
“Um. Can I talk to the owner of the house?”
“Pardon me?” I asked in disbelief.
“Are the owners of the house in?”
[OMG. The moron actually repeated his question.]
“I AM the owner of the house.”
“Oh, I was just wondering what’s going on?”
[Construction equipment is scattered on the front lawn and landscapers are finishing up in the back.]
“You mean with the construction?”
“Yeah.”
“Are you from the neighbourhood?”
“Yes, I live just across the street,” he said pointing.
“What’s your name?”
Moron
“Well, Moron. We’re just doing some work in the back.”
[Awkward silence]
“Well, I’m just about to give the boys a bath …”
“Yeah, I was just wondering what’s going on with all this.”
“We’re just redoing the backyard.”
[Another awkward silence. I’m eyeing the panic button on my security system. Beginning to think this guy is nuts.]
“Do you have a complaint?”
“No, not at all. I’m just wondering what’s going on.”
“We’re redoing the WHOLE backyard.”
“Can I have a look?” he said making a motion to enter the house.
“No! I’m just about to start bath for the boys. Maybe, you can come back on the weekend [when my husband is home, dirtbag]. During the day.”

I don’t remember what else was said. I may have been in too much of a hurry to lock the door and put the security system back on.

Crazy, stupid ass, moron!

happy place

Nose bleed blood splatter reminiscent of a scene from a CSI episode wiped down. Pee stench emanating from the main floor toilet and vicinity partially removed. Four-year-old’s pants dripping with pee changed. These moments define my past hour.

The hubby is out-of-town again so I turn to photography (and coffee) to take me to a happy place.

Ahhhh. I feel better.

looking forward

As the boys get closer to being school-aged, I find myself thinking how much I’m looking forward to a routine of alone-time … an elusive occurence that I seem to chase after almost daily. Shopping. Eating. Going to the bathroom. Reading. Surfing the Web. Soon (1 year and 5 months from now, to be exact), I will enjoy a 6-hour window when I can engage in these ordinary activities without a child underfoot, demanding for my attention.

Today, the hubby and I resorted to chaperone tag and took turns minding the boys while the other looked through the clothing and book racks. It was a far cry from our pre-baby days when we shopped and walked the aisles at a leisurely pace.

As I watched the boys turn one of the clothing racks into a fort, I’m reminded once again of how childhood/youth/life is fleeting. No longer bound to a stroller, the boys walk around freely. How fast they’re grown. And, I think to myself, for all the times I’ve thought that the future cannot arrive fast enough, I’ve spent an equal amount of time reminiscing about the days gone by.

In truth, the boys will always be the centre of my world. My hope is that this world will one day make a little more room for me.

a good friday

Fishing with a broken branch. Balancing on rocks near the river. Skimming stones. Eating ice cream. Napping. Biking. Rolling and racing down the hilly path near our house. Such was our day. It was a very good Friday, indeed.

* * *

I watched this scene through my camera lens … my husband, standing behind my 2 1/2 year-old, with one hand ready in case LittleR Dude falters on the rocks. I held my breath and felt an urge to intervene. Knowing when to hold our children’s hands and when to let them go to explore the world is a delicate tightrope we walk as parents. My husband is a braver soul than I am. My children and I are lucky.

holding on

Shutter Sisters’ OWP word for April is hold, a word that conveys such powerful images and thoughts for me. We embrace … clutch … grab … confine … and, yes, hold on to many things in life. Our possessions. Our past. Our youth. Our children. Our family. Our spouse. Ourselves. Motherhood (and life, in general) is all about holding on. And, taking hold. At times, holding in. And, holding back.

Today, I offer you a photograph of me with my arms wrapped around my youngest son … a quick blackberry snap taken by my husband last year and digitally edited by me. It’s one of the very few images of me in our massive digital photo library … the first photo I thought of when I saw the word hold.

This image reminds me of one of my current ongoing battles with LittleR Dude, now 2 1/2. He’s beginning to reject naptime. “I don’t want to cuddle, mommy,” he insists but often succumbs to sleep only a few minutes after being rocked.

Cuddle time. Our down time. I’d like to hold on to this quiet, tender moment forever. I hold him sleeping in my arms longer than I need to because I know that, soon, this routine will pass. One day, I will have no choice but to let go.

remembering – august 23, 2008

This post begins with an old photograph.

I’ve been sifting through my digital collection, particularly those taken with my blackberry. For all its convenience, cell phone photography has produced many mementos of special moments with the boys … mementos soon forgotten … often times, forgotten the second I took the picture.

Today, I smiled at each rediscovery. And for many images, it seemed I was seeing them for the first time … like this photograph of Little Dude surrounded by bubbles. Eyes laughing. Thrilled beyond belief. So much so that he appears to be biting his arm, perhaps, in an attempt to contain his excitement.

Today, as I look at this image, I’m reminded of how much my little boy has grown. Then 2 1/2 and playful. Now 4 and trying, more than ever, to assert his independence. His attempts, at times, are way more aggressive and forceful than I would like.

Yet, he remains a little boy. My Little Dude. Bubbles still excite him. His eyes still sparkle with overjoy. Making my heart melt with tenderness. And for a moment, the struggles of the day are forgotten.