Tuesday, November 21, 2017

#KingBaby

Of all of the nicknames we've come up with for Asher, "King Baby" seems to be everyone's favorite.  The littlest member of our family is also the sun around which the rest of us orbit.

Mealtime is when this seems to really come to fore.  For starter's, Asher gets his money's worth while in his high chair.  Then he'll meander from person to person, getting each one of us to hoist him up to our level, where he'll mooch whatever's in front of us that he happens to like.

We know we need to set limits for him at this age, so at some point he wears out his welcome and we issue an ultimatum that he either has to sit back in his chair if he's still hungry, or else leave the kitchen and go play.  But for a few go-rounds, he's running things in the kitchen.  As it should be for our King Baby.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

College Prep

This recent article by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, is a nice springboard to a topic I’ve been mulling over for the past few weeks and really for the past few years.  It’s no secret if you read this space that I am a big believer in giving kids room to explore, struggle, and even fail.  As my kids get older, I find I am having increasingly mature and urgent conversations with them about why their mother and I parent them the way we do, and what we hope they get out of it.  Lately, I’ve been hammering away at the same three lessons, which I fear many kids get all the way to college without touching let alone learning:

1.  Take responsibility.  For a very long time, it has been on Aaron and Jada to wake up in the morning, to complete homework, and to pack for extra-curricular activities with no adult intervention.  If you have spent your entire childhood with a human alarm clock, constant help in doing homework, and a live-in assistant who preps your gym bag, college is going to be a rude awakening. 

2. Deal with stress.  The importance of resiliency, and the tragic consequences of not knowing how to cope when overwhelm, are increasingly known and emphasized.  And yet how easily we parents swoop in at the first sign of distress.  Without being overly callous, I have let our kids sit for a minute in the discomfort of stress, acknowledging its existence and encouraging them to persevere through it.  Aaron and Jada now know that if they’re having a late night and they’re tired and they still have homework and they’re anxious about it and it’s their turn to clean the kitchen, the only thing they’ll get from petitioning me for a rescheduling of their chores is a lecture about how sometimes you have to do what you’re supposed to do in less than ideal circumstances. 

3. Live with freedom to do both good and bad.  This is a hard one, because I realize that room to sin means that sometimes kids choose poorly, with adverse consequences to them and sometimes others.  Whether it’s staying home alone, having Internet access, or being on social media, the opportunity is ripe for behaviors that are self-destructive and/or hurtful to others.  I don’t wish this for my kids or any kids, but I prefer that mistakes are made now at 10 and 12 than for the first time at 18 or 22 or 26, when the moral, social, and criminal consequences may be far more intractable. 

Since we live in the shadow of a college campus, in a neighborhood called University City, and since Amy and I are both college alum and college faculty, talk of college is never too far from our family conversation.  College prep usually takes the form of getting good grades, or as kids get to the application phase it’s about researching schools and lining up financial aid.  But there’s another part of college prep that’s even more important in every way than academics or finances, and that is preparing our kids to take responsibility, deal with stress, and live with freedom.  Here’s hoping they’ll be ready when it’s time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Swimmingly

Ah the weekend: a time to sleep in, relax, and...oh, but if you're on the swim team, sometimes it means waking up both mornings and driving out to a meet.  Such was Aaron's past weekend, where he had six events over two mornings. 

His results:
50 free - 3rd out of 6
50 back - 5th out of 6
100 breast - 1st out of 6
100 free - 3rd out of 6
50 fly - 2nd out of 6
100 IM - 1st out of 6

He is at the tail end of his age range so is doing better, relative to those he's swimming against.  Soon he'll jump into a new age range and a more competitive pool (no pun intended), so will struggle just to stay in the water.  But for now, it's good to see him see some competitive success in his races.  Attaboy, Aaron!


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Halloween

Halloween is a big deal in our neighborhood, so even though it was a school/work night, I dashed home to take the kids to the local parade.  It didn't take long for Asher to dig the scene.  "Go up to people, get candy, Daddy opens it, and I eat it?  More, please!"

Aaron and Jada went off with their friends and then met us at the gathering spot at Little Osage, after which we all walked back to our house to grab a bite and get ready for trick-or-treating.  We started with a crew of seven, somehow picked up two other kids along the way (one of Jada's friends and one of Aaron's), and meandered our way through the neighborhood until our dogs were barking.

One by one, we dropped off each of the kids and then headed home.  The kids got a lot of loot and I got a lot of steps in! 




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Huang Family Newsletter, October 2017

Crazy month here.  Lee had business trips to Long Beach, South Bend, and State College.  Amy started a new job and finished up the practicum she teaches at Penn.  We squeezed in a kids-free long weekend in Miami.  Jada had her Gotcha Day.  Aaron joined the debate team at school and ramped up his swimming.  And Asher is still King Baby, and weighed in at 37 pounds at his 2.5yo check-up.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

There's Something About Adoption

With all due respect to biological parents, there is something about adoption – both the process of adopting and then the raising of adopted children – that opens you up to the love and support of so many wonderful people in your life. 

I was going through some old paperwork and found myself reading and rereading reference letters that dear friends had written over the years as part of our adoption applications.  It was emotionally overwhelming for me to take in so many kind words about us, for sure.  But I think even more touching was the realization that these friends taking the time to write these letters on our behalf to vouch for us was quite literally a prerequisite for bringing each of our children into our family.  

Since then, and especially with Asher, so many have come alongside us with encouragement, wisdom, and prayers as we seek to parent children who did not come from us but now are part of us.  It is profoundly moving to Amy and me how many are the people who stand in support of us as we love and care for our children.

Obviously, biological parents rely on others when they become parents and as they parent, but there is something about adoption that requires more help from others and in turn that allows us to receive so much from others.  I am, now and forever, deeply grateful for all who have walked with us and continue to walk with us.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Can Do Everything Right and Yet...

Amy and I are going to do our best to raise Asher right, so that he dresses appropriately and behaves respectfully, so that he is intelligent and kind and aware and humble, so that he develops into the godly and loving person God wanted him to be when he graciously put him into our family to grow up in.

And yet we know that there are likely to be many times in his life when he will be misunderstood and mistreated.  Some will not see that he has a loving dad and a loving mom and two loving big sibs, that he is kind and funny and sweet and smart; they'll only see a big black guy and they will think ill of him or worse.

We can do everything right, and yet that might still happen.  Indeed, using the experience of my friends who look like Asher as a guide, it is almost certain to happen, many times over.  And that saddens and enrages and scares me.  All I can do is pray and hope.