Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gotcha, Jada

Not long after Jada arrived in the world (probably one to three days), she was left out in the cold, where she was taken into an orphanage for months on end with very little nourishment or interacti
on, and then bused five hours into the capital city of the province to await our arrival.  Twelve years ago today that 7 1/2 month old baby was placed into our arms, and we haven't let go ever since.  Thankful to God today and every day for our Jerds!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Miami with My Amy

Just got back from a long (and kid-free!) weekend in Miami with Amy. We had a really good time, even though our packed and stressful schedules right before the trip meant we spent a fair amount of time either napping or watching very brainless TV.  It is a beautiful part of the world and it was rejuvenating to see it together.  We will be back.  For now, we are back to the grind, but with fond memories of Miami to keep us smiling.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Looking to High School

In Philadelphia, at the high school level there are neighborhood schools, which as the term implies serve kids in a particular neighborhood, and then there are different kinds and tiers of "magnet"schools, which draw from all over the city and usually have some sort of academic performance criteria.  Our neighborhood elementary school goes to 8th grade, so our kids can go straight from there to high school.  And with Jada now in 7th grade, research (mostly on her part) has intensified as to where to apply and how to get in.

Fifth and sixth grades were hard for Jada, for a variety of reasons, and while her grades those years were good they weren't great.  Amy and I know she can do better, and so far this school year she has marshaled far more of her own motivation in this direction too.  She wants to get into a good high school, and she knows that 7th grade grades count towards that, so she is putting in the work and maintaining her focus.  She has made good choices to eliminate both distractions as well as productive activities that she would otherwise like to pursue but realizes she needs to say no to in order to have time to do well in school. 

So impressed with how she is approaching this whole thing.  We are of course very active in her pursuits, and yet on another level we are intentionally giving her space to own her own goals and take her own steps to achieve them.  I'm proud of her for stepping up so far this year. 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Huang Family Newsletter, September 2017

Jada, Aaron, and I had an incredible trip down the West Coast, including two days in Seattle, a two-day train trip to SoCal, and three days in SoCal.  Then we returned to a full plate of work, school, and extra-curriculars.  To add even more to the mix, Amy and I both started teaching our classes at Penn this month and Amy started a new job.  And Asher continues to rule the home and social media.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

This is Us

The second season of "This is Us" premieres tonight.  The show has been recommended to Amy and me by many people, and we did watch the series premiere several months back, but since then haven't had any time to get further.  But we know enough from that first episode, and from murmurings from friends and colleagues (thankfully, without any spoilers!), that it is a show that is deep with many of the things we wrestle with as a family.  The emotional roller coasters of race and adoption and loss and uncertainty are deeply familiar to us. We hope to soon join millions of fans in taking this all in.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An Escalating Problem

Asher is able to climb out of his crib.  Usually this means it's time for a big boy bed, but he's not ready for that level of freedom.  Or maybe he is?  Even though this is our third go-round, I haven't a clue what to do.  Ah, parenting...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Paradox of Wrongdoing

To offer my kids a modicum of privacy, this post blurs some details.  But I want to explore a potential paradox of wrongdoing that maybe you can shed some light for me on.  

With apologies to Aaron, I do want to let you know this post is about him.  Not to embarrass him, but because I think this is something where his gender is a relevant piece of information.

He has a habit of not brushing his teeth at night and then lying about it.  Both are bad but I think you would agree that the latter is worse.  He just can't bring himself to tell the truth when caught in a lie, because he hates getting in trouble, not realizing that by lying he is getting into further trouble.  

Not brushing your teeth is not that big a deal, but lying obviously is, because it creates a pattern that can lead to even worse wrongdoing.  But it seems the more he lies and gets caught, the more he feels he has to lie because he knows he should know better.

It is good that he feels awful when he is caught.  That is called guilt, and it comes from having a conscience.  And each time this happens, we let him know that, and we remind him that if he comes clean, we can and will forgive him.  Every single time, no matter how many times.  And that ultimately, he needs to understand that he needs to fess up to God, and that God can and will forgive him.  Every single time, no matter how many times.   

I don't think anything I've just said is controversial.  By and large, we would say that as parents we can and do forgive our kids time and again.  This is part of being a loving parent.  

And yet I also feel it's important for Aaron to learn another, seemingly contradictory lesson, and that is that the critical importance of self-control.  When Asher gets older, I will instill this same lesson, which I suppose applies to girls too but here I am thinking of boys.  And that is that they need to be careful because lack of self-control can cause you do to something in the heat of the moment that is irreversible.  You can harm someone or yourself, or break the law, or do any number of rash and impulsive things that saying sorry won't cover up, and that you may spend your whole life regretting or event paying the penalty for.  

The reason I think of this as particularly relevant for boys rather than girls is that it seems that boys struggle more with self-control.  And so I want to instill in Aaron an ability to control himself, so that in the heat of the moment he doesn't do something that he cannot undo and that he will live to regret.  

And such is the paradox of wrongdoing.  Love and forgiveness can and do cover a multitude of sins.  But there is such a thing as one careless and stupid act producing a tragic and unchangeable outcome.  O God, help our boys to have self-control, and to receive your forgiveness too.