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FATHER OF AHHS!: Clean up your act…in more ways than one


Cleaning Up My Act… In more ways than one

It’s official. I completed 10 days of detox, ridding my body of toxins and holiday sweets. However this got me thinking about other aspects of my life that could use a detox.

In our home we have a no swear policy. In fact nyone who lets one slip is bound to a $50 monetary donation to Tino’s college fund. It has happened very little from either of us, but is more apt to happen from an outsider visiting. If you’re not conditioned everyday to watch your words it’s amazing what you can catch yourself saying. Working in an environment of early childhood development, I am already conscience of my words and language so it carries over pretty easily for me. It’s easy to underestimate the power of language. We notice “our words” a lot in our house these days, since we are always telling Tino to “use his words” or to help him choose better or more appropriate words.

My father’s first language was Chinese. He picked up Pidgin English with many other immigrants at that time. As a toddler, Chinese was also my first language, up until I started school, then we only spoke English in our home. My father spoke with such a thick Chinese accent that I was sure no one understood what he was saying much of the time. He was determined I was not going to inherit that quality. He took pride in my Western vernacular. This to him was an indicator of a successful person. I new this was shaped by the prejudice he faced struggling to communicate himself. I have memories of he and I reading the newspaper as a way to practice. It also broadened his horizon beyond the long days spent working in Chinatown. I taught him how to write English and in a short amount of time he had better penmanship than I could ever muster.

Once again I can’t help but find similar patterns replicated in my parenting. Tino is only two years old and has quite an extensive vocabulary that he uses (in my opinion) quite well. Rather then letting him “go with the flow” I find myself correcting pronunciation and diction. I mean yikes, you’d think I could wait till he is at least in preschool? It’s amazing to me that we have gone from a baby who could only communicate through crying to a toddler who can hold a conversation. I guess less and often stand back in awe at this boy who is fully capable of telling me what exactly he wants. It will be interesting to see how that will translate in a few years…

Reconnecting the subject to food and language, this brings me back to the dinner table. My new favorite time of the day. Now that Tino is conversational and can feed himself, family dinners have taken on a whole new level of charm. It’s really important to me that this meal is healthy and an equally safe space for our family to communicate and grow. While I realize work, meetings and extracurricular activities may make it difficult, I am determined to maintain this special time. Growing up my dinner table consisted of a meal delivered by a server and my school books. I realize it was a missed opportunity. Now I cherish these moments and the chance to watch my son grow up one meal at a time.

-Dean Wong