Green spaces are important for human health. The proximity to parks especially those parks with trees, is highly correlated with improved health incomes especially cardiovascular and respiratory health. Through environmental health work, I’m realizing more and more how incredible fortunate some of us are and that is why life has turned out easier for us. If you live near lots of trees and parks and an area with relatively little air pollution, your life probably turned out better.
For the residents of Barrio Logan, someone who did not look like them nor lived in their neighborhood decided to put the I-5 right through their neighborhood and immediately changed the course of an entire neighborhood’s character and health. Some of the highest rates of asthma are in Barrio Logan. It is known as an environmental justice neighborhood. I have many close friends who are from Barrio and continue to fight for their neighborhood.
Sometimes when I think that I’m at the mid 700s to 1000 bags of trash that I’m at the end, and that my part in this fight is mostly done. But then super interesting issues come up that I’m able to have a say in, and I realize – this is still fun and I’m still needed.
SanDiego350.org reached out to get co-signatures for a SANDAG grant support letter to request 2 million for an I-5 Freeway Cap over Barrio Logan, that would create a large urban park and try to reconnect the community.
So I replied to SanDiego350.org with our agreement to co-sign that letter. It’s a powerful text group that I’m texting, even though my thought is that it’s just my friends. It’s a member of the San Diego Air Pollution Control Board, the head of the Child Abuse and Neglect committee, an executive member of the AAP San Diego leadership, two of our pediatric hospitalist, and head of pediatric after hours clinic. And I did more reading on it this morning, and feel 100% comfortable putting in our support. The deadline is October 10 and we are two weeks ahead of schedule.
I am so grateful for SanDiego350.org, what a powerful and well run organization. I am so grateful to SANDAG. And I’m mostly grateful to my friends who responded to my text message at 530pm. Can you imagine when and if San Diego get’s this grant? We’ll know we were a part of this all!!!
I must be doing something right. I worked on Saturday afternoon from 130-5pm and was still able to joyfully make dinner with Mr. Plastic Picker’s fancy radiology friend and pharmacist wife at 630pm. I wore a pretty dress and heels, and we talked about our mutual children and life. I had fun listening to them chat, and they listened to me – avidly at times as I recounted some of my adventures. Then last night I worked the staggered late shift, part of a shift I helped pilot and design. The system is not perfect but it’s certainly better for the five years I devoted to trying to make it more livable. I worked last night and it was certainly busy. I even had a resident that I mentored. All the patients were seen on time. A late newborn that had checked in over 4 hours late, I saw as well. I just asked our nursing staff to remind the parents I needed to see everyone in order. That baby ended up needing me anyway, for some simple lab follow up and saved them from having a drive back and the earth some carbon. Oh and the Saturday afternoon shift? I had one of the sickest patients I’ve had in a long time check in at 4pm. The nursing staff and I were able to turn around that patient within 45 minutes, and get them into the ambulance and off to the hospital already stabilized. I had dinner plans and our clinic technically closes at 5pm. I’ve been a doctor for a long time now and I know what to do quickly. At 530pm as the child and mother were safely in the care of the EMTs, I had my backpack with both straps on and walking out the door with most of my charts done.
I know I must be doing something right because last night I was working, I happened to glance an appointment access. There are absolutely no appointments and it’s absolutely horrible right now. I was initially irritated and began to get angry. I had been tasked with this integral part of management for four years. Like any responsibility given to me, I had done it with care. I had made sure there were at least 100-150 appointments available every day. I had recruited per diem pediatricians and kept an eagle on their credentialing to make sure they got through. I learned the intricacies of our system from nursing staffing, to our schedulers optimal work schedules when they were easiest to reach, and created a well-oiled machine on appointment access. It all came tumbling down when I made the decision not to let others take credit for my work, and not involve me in giving out positions and credit to those pediatricians who had taken these part-time positions for our department. When I own it, I own it completely. I literally said at a meeting, you want to take it – then you take it all. And then four years of proper access that lasted through some of the most horrible flu seasons I’ve been through and holiday schedules where we had one new doctor quit unexpectedly, yet everything still opened up with enough appointments – it all came tumbling down.
So last night I was just trying to find appointments for follow ups for my own patients I was seeing, and I happened to be looking at the different clinic schedules the way I used to look at things – and there were no appointments. I was angry initially. I could have written several different versions of scathing blog posts about this. When one is emotional, the writing actually comes out very well. Those are blog posts that get clicked on.
But I know I’m doing something right when I choose positivity and I choose beauty. I chose to let those thoughts meander in my brain as I numbed it with two Kdrama episodes last night. I chose to let the HMO middle management system try to right itself. I choose to be like my father, forever the small business owner that did not let the union machinery nor corporate largesse take credit for his work. He went out his own and built something beautiful. I choose this morning to blog and to remember the beautiful parts of yesterday.
The beauty yesterday as I left clinic was getting to really look at the decals in one of my new exam rooms. It’s a slow project and all I did was buy the decals. I love them and the new nursing partner I have. She also brings beauty and chooses positivity. I chose to chat with a young father who is a Family Practice doctor about his new baby, and give him some advice about life. And I choose to not get involved again in a system that needs to cleanse itself. And if the system doesn’t, than a new system will come. And I got to talk to my daughter last night, and my son as well – and oh yes Mr. Plastic Picker too. We all gathered at 830pm and had a late snack as everyone had a busy Monday. Volleyball tournament for our daughter, AP Biology homework for my son, invitation to speak at Harvard/MGH grand rounds for me, and the continuing adventures of the private school lunch line.
I’m up at 642am and finished a short blog to sort out my thoughts. My matcha green tea soy latte is delicious, and I’m going for a short jog to get my heart rate about 160. I remember pushing myself to run after working until 10pm, and then falling for the first time in my life after running about 7 years ago. I came home scrapped and bloodied, yet still forced myself to work the next day after having worked the night before. Back then my freshman daughter was 7 years of age, and I’m sure it scared her to see me scraped up and pushing myself. But now I’m not scaring anyone anymore, especially not myself.
It’s Saturday morning and 635am. I’m wearing a brown flowery shirt with ruffled short sleeves that is physically very cooling, and my mother-in-law while chopping some radishes said it was very pretty. I’m going to just blog for a bit, and then plog to the beach. I’ve slowed down my litter-picking as I’m at bag #730 now. I’m not rushing to get to #1000 which has been my goal. I’m enjoying the process and realizing that I’d like to jog a bit more so I can really get my heart rate up more. I am in my mid-40s and staying really active in your 40s is vital to ensure that I live well into my old age.
What’s the point of saving the earth and raising great kids, if I’m not healthy to see my grandchildren and see how the world turns out? It’s going to be an epic few decades to come. We’ve made great strides in combating climate change and personally I’m proud to have had a role, and to continue to have a role. But I’m aware that I’ve done more than my fair share now.
This week was again epic for climate work and environmental health work. We had a meeting of the Public Health Advisory Council (now called P-HACK), of Climate Actions Campaign to focus on our next year’s priorities. We are still going to work on building electrification and active transport, but now going to focus on resiliency. The recent heat waves drives home the point that this is where health care voices need to be at. I’m so proud to be the Chair of PHAC, and the amazing thing is that day I was just a participant. I reached out to the Vice-Chair, and honestly told her that I had almost fallen asleep driving home that afternoon. It was too much. I also had to be at a college counseling admissions meeting for my son at his posh private school, so it would be hard to lead the meeting. Most climate and health advocacy is volunteer. We all have full time jobs otherwise and this is the work of the heart. And the loving Vice-Chair said she could lead the meeting and it went so well. And one of our other PHAC council members is going to be on the panel of a large meeting Nexus, and her beautiful picture is on the social media ads for it. I’m so proud to know them both and to work with them. The other epic advancement is that everything is coming out fine for the Climate Ride that Dr. Sally Kaufman with a little help from myself, is planning. This is to raise awareness about the effects of climate change on pediatric health. Getting approvals and bringing up the proposals took a lot of bravery and persistence. I’m proud to have helped with that. A few more emails, gathering more sign-ups and getting the AAP Banner to fly for the actual day. (Just emailed the AAP San Diego folks to borrow the banner for two free publicity events).
And the I got to meet Alexander Nguyen, who is an Emmy-award winning journalist now with KPBS. He interviewed me for the anti-vaping legislation at Chula Vista City Hall. Our student Laisha Felix had her op-ed published in the Chula Vista Star News. Looking at her letter again, I am so proud of her for finding her voice. Our team did really well, and contributed a lot to the passing of the legislation 5-0. For this effort, it was myself, Dr. Dear Friend and our premed intern Laisha Felix. We were all over the news in Spanish and English, and Dr. Dear Friend brought it home in an emotional testimony that has now gotten her invited to testify at the state level for Proposition 31.
But in all those victories this week for the earth and the children, I learned to say no. I realize I want to run a bit more, and after almost falling asleep while I was driving home one afternoon – it’s not worth dying to help save the earth. It’s really all our jobs. I’ll continue to do it at a sustainable pace, but I need to sleep and exercise to get my heart rate up and healthy past 140!!!
So there are all the things I said politely NO to this week. These are all things that are not required for my job and nothing I’m actually responsible for. And actually, all these things are things that other people actually either get time or paid to do. So I’m not going to do their job if it does not bring me joy. I said NO to a presentation to nursing education on implicit bias. Its an HMO thing and I already lead two big committees for FREE. And I’m speaking at two regional conferences for FREE. And I’ve been of the news gathering publicity for our group at least 8 times for FREE. So to the actually beautiful person who went me the request, I politely said NO this year. They can ask me next year. I said NO to going out with the family practice residents for dinner last night. I already managed their first rotation for FREE. Gave a two lectures for FREE. Helped provide their breakfast for FREE. We even took them out to eat (although I did not get paid). They have faculty that actually I know get paid a lot of money to manage them and since this was my off time and Friday night, I spent the evening with my own children. I love the residents but would not love having dinner with them when my own children were at home. I also said NO to a conference for another peripherally related outdoor events advocacy group. I want kids to get outdoors and this work is important. But I’m actually hyper-focused on climate change and more impactful legislation, and none of the premed interns want to do this project. So I said NO. We are staying on their email list. I said NO to officially joining the physician wellness committee. I can do wellness events without actually being part of the actual committee. Wow, it’s really fun to say NO.
But the reason it’s important to say NO, is so that I can say YES to other things. So this weekend I’m saying YES to exercising my heart. I’m going on a run soon. I’m saying YES to working a shift at La Mesa, because we still have to work and the powers that be that are running the department (well, they are doing the best they can with the resources they have). I actually don’t mind working this afternoon because I’m going to get to see two friends that I haven’t seen in a while. They might call me off though. I’m the most expensive doctor. When I used to run things, I saved the HMO thousands and thousands for dollars. I have email evidence of all that. But no one really cares anymore. But I CARE!!!! So I’m saving myself money by taking care of my own health today! I’m off to the beach to plog!!!
Thank you for following along on the continuing adventures of Dr. Plastic Picker, your no longer burnt out pediatrician who finds the trashy world – fascinating! But let’s make it LESS TRASHY!!!
I hadn’t realized it was the 20th anniversary of September 11th? It’s 421am and I’m sitting in the quiet and semi-dark of our kitchen. I want to go for a run this morning and try to get some more cardio in. I slept very deeply yesterday in a fundamental way after a wonderful night with my family. My parents are visiting from their island home, and we gathered together in a beautiful house near the beach. I walked in and I told my younger brother, “I’m curious to see what is the ruckus you caused!” And indeed the whole house was in a ruckus because he was moving from one house to another, and the new house held mementos.
I’m still watching a lot of Kdramas lately but I realize for me and for others, it’s fun and silly and addictive because we are not Korean. I’m certainly a Korean daughter-in-law and the wife to a very Korean man, and I speak decent amount of Korean and eat mostly Korean foods these days – but I am not and have never claimed to be Korean. I am fundamentally comfortable with myself, and as I was eating this lovely banh cuon my older brother had brought to the gathering – I leaned over to my daughter and said. “No matter how much I love your father, Vietnamese food is better.” And indeed dear readers to my palate, it is. The banh cuon yesterday was so delicious. I savored each bite. The thin rice noodles were so thin, and soaked up the nuoc mam so well. I will never forget the banh cuon from yesterday. Even Mr. Plastic Picker admitted that the food was pretty amazing.
My children will often times try to correct me when I make pronouncements like that. But in the setting we were at, the food was indeed extraordinary and no one dared argue.
We ate, and for a time my daughter was looking through old photos from Vietnam. Most were of my parents when they were young. It was interesting to see which photos she decided to take digital snapshots. There is the romantic one at the beginning of the blog that she took.
Mr. Plastic Picker’s cousin almost 20 years ago, gifted us a pair of wooden ducks on our wedding trip to South Korea. Twenty years ago my parents-in-law had taken us up and down South Korea to meet relatives and introduce us to family and friends. We were in the midst of our third year of medical school at Harvard as well, and had been married just four months at that time. Now 20 years later, I’m truly realizing the significance of that trip and the love and care my parents-in-law bestowed on me. I had bought special winter clothes at Ann Taylor to wear to the various dinners, and we even went to Jeju Do and stayed at a traditional Korean home of a wealthy friend who owned a plantation.
Back to the wooden ducks. It was after watching Kdramas and then looking at the wooden ducks that were gifted to us twenty years ago, that I kept not knowing the significance as we moved from Boston to DC to San Diego and to various homes in San Diego. The ducks are still with us and seated with some succulents right now in our garden. I think they are happier outside. Aix galericulata, Mandarin ducks, in Chinese and Korean culture symbolize “peace, fidelity, and plentiful offspring. Similar to the Chinese, they believe that these ducks mate for life. For these reasons, pairs of wooden-carved mandarin ducks called wedding ducks are often given as wedding gifts and play a significant role in Korean marriage.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_duck
And I’ve been thinking about monogamy and family, and having the normal worries of a mother of two teenagers. We are very strict with our children, and even our high school senior has not started dating. Certainly my daughter knows to respect herself enough to give herself time to become a full person before entering into any sort of romantic relationship. I’ve been trying to teach my children about monogamy and the word has come up multiple times at dinner. My son will push back and say the world has changed. I’m liberal in most ways, but I still fundamentally believe that a healthy society is one that encourages life-long partners be in whatever gender you prefer. I am certainly progressive and realize that there are many societal reasons (war, genocide, historic injustices) that have prevented some that should have mated for life, to have been ripped apart.
But yesterday I think my campaign to instill in my children the importance of valuing oneself and valuing one’s life-long partner much easier. My daughter chose to remember the picture of my own parents over 50 years ago, when they were young and carefree students gazing at each other. They are a pair of ducks, mated for life. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are the same. And those examples are important to uphold, and I didn’t realize something I take for granted is actually uncommon. Everyone at clinic was amazed that Mr. Plastic Picker and I had been married happily for 20 years. Mr. Plastic Picker’s parents have been married now almost 60 years, and my own parents 50 years. This is through war, immigration, poverty and many adverse life events. It’s easier to go through life with one person. Whoever that one person is for my daughter (and my son), I will love you. Just like my parents-in-law love me, and my parents love Mr. Plastic Picker.
It’s muggy outside and there is a hurricane coming up from Baja California, that has brought much needed rain to us. There might be too much rain though. One of my longtime parents who is also a climate advocate told me the rain is helping put out the 20,000 acre fire in Riverside County. Pakistan is currently 1/3 flooded. We are living through already major weather events and natural disasters that were foretold, but even Dr. Plastic Picker did not listen soon enough. It’s interesting but certainly scary. The world is in mitigation mode, as recent American investments in climate including the Inflation Reduction Act and the recent California legislative wins that brought another $54 billion into climate investments – we are now all doing something.
Oh the title!!! It’s really funny isn’t it? It sounds like a curse word but it’s the medical term for “fake lens” for a patient that has cataract surgery. Pediatric cataracts are rare, but can happen and after someone has surgery this is what is placed in their chart to describe the presence of the artificial lens. Pseudophakia. Again, sounds like a curse word. I was having fun playing with the term yesterday and used it in dinnertime conversation. I find life interesting and stimulating, even having the mental space to learn something with each patient encounter. It’s the curiosity that I had when I was a child and in high school. I feel like a child again with that curiosity, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Now I’m realizing why in part the Iced Matcha Tea Soy Latte yesterday was so amazing, it has three scoops of matcha powder! That is a lot of matcha powder. Usually for my home hot version, I use one or 1/2 scoop and its mostly water and maybe 1 oz of soy milk. But oh wasn’t it wonderful yesterday. I’ll never forget that iced drink I had yesterday at the Starbucks at Vons located in PB. It was >90 degrees and my two tall teen children and I walked into the ultra-air conditioned grocery store. I left our oldest who at 17yo is well equipped with $20 in cash to buy three drinks for us. I wandered with our daughter 14yo to get more soy milk as I had run out of the organic soy milk I use for my morning drink. We stood there next to the freezer section and it was so blessedly COLD especially during the now almost week long heat wave in San Diego. I’ll never forget that contrast and that moment, the feeling of relief and cool air as we were looking for my soy milk amongst the other plant-based milks. And then after we paid for two items, meeting my son and he handed me unexpectedly iced matcha soy latte instead of my usual hot brew. He took it upon himself to get me the iced version, and it was the first time I had ever had the iced version and it was simply daebak!
And the whole day was daebak. I had not been on the computer system for four days, as it was the long holiday weekend and I took Tuesday off as the kids started school. I spent most of the long weekend working on our taxes and going through finances with a fine tooth comb. I’m the CFO of our family. It’s important for me to go through the details of all the charges and to stem any waste in our budget, so most of the weekend the children and Mr. Plastic Picker suffered from my constant, “what is this $14.99? $49.99!!! Another $1.99!!!” And even with all the nagging, we are amazingly consistent as a family and our savings rate is 52% year after year. And a large proportion of that is our 15 year refinanced mortgage at 2.75% and two private school tuitions for the children. Our high savings rate is mostly why when I say we are financially independent to save the earth, that I’m being honest. I could not work and we’d be fine. Mr. Plastic Picker was always the highest earner anyway, and we could easily within three years downsize our entire family to one of our smaller but very nice rental properties and drop our living cost to very little.
It is 547am and I’m sitting at our new-to-us kitchen table. The previous kitchen table was a hand-me-down within our extended family at least three times. It started at my parent’s house, then my sisters, back to my moms, and then to us. We’ve had this table now about six years, as long as we’ve had our current house. Now thinking back, we were in need of a kitchen table and I think my parents were looking to upgrade. I realize the contradictions in my life, in that we had a newly built house with an old kitchen table.
I’m sitting in the kitchen on labor day weekend and there is a heatwave in San Diego. It was >101 degrees in Mission Valley yesterday, as we were stuck in traffic trying to get past the 15 and 8 intersection. The new Snapdragon Stadium is up, and there was an Arizona versus SDSU football game. Young people were walking in the >100 heat on edgeways trying to get to the stadium and not pay for parking. The stadium is also bordered on the east by an asphalt parking lot. I know eventually there are some plans for green space, but from our CMAX Energi Hybrid that at some points was relatively fuel efficient for it’s day – it looked like literally a hot mess.
I had just last week been on a series of marathon interviews for the local news on extreme heat. Our HMO media person had reached out as I’m known in our organization to be “on call for the earth” and for these impactful opportunities – I certainly am. But after saying on the news multiple times hydrate, rest, get in the shade, and enact the climate action plan – I was watching our citizens walk over asphalt to get to a stadium and then to hit in the hot sun. Most of them were young and fit, but I did not see any reusable water bottles? Do you know if they are even allowed in the stadium? As a pediatrician, I just imagined San Diegan after San Diegan suffering heat exhaustion and maybe a few with heat stroke. I imagined the colleagues manning the health tent, and how frustrating it would be. But at some point, I’m able to disconnect and realize they are on – and I’m off. I did my duty and was on the news four times. I did my duty and was part of the grassroots movement to help pass $54 billion in California legislation that invests this sizable amount to helping bend the arc toward a sustainable future.
And now I’m in my house in the early morning with my daughter. She’s making us breakfast and adding an extra mushy banana to the pancake mix. In the relativeness of our imaginary place in the world, I know we are incredibly fortunate. We have air conditioning. We have solar panels. We have a garden that will survive the heat wave because I saved our extra bathwater and have been giving the plants a bit extra. But being a bit more fortunate in a world that still needs saving, means a need to do a little more. But I’m resting this weekend, and spending a gloriously slow weekend with my teen children.
Since finishing my Assistant Boss term a year early (I opted to leave at year 5 versus year 6) effective end of May, it’s been a gloriously long summer with my children. I missed so much when they were younger. Preschool costume parades, school award assemblies and the one time my daughter did ice skating camp and the end of camp performance – I remember crying in my office I was so frustrating that I couldn’t take that Friday afternoon off. Now looking back I would have told my younger self, just call in sick that day. If it was that important to you. I had not done that in fifteen years, and I 100% know it’s a common thing that is done. One day in 15 years, is not bad. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not human, or at least a dishonest one.
Hmmm, why did I start blogging? Oh yes. Just reminding myself and the readership to eat plants. Eat more plants. That is one of the easiest ways to heal yourself and heal the earth. The crazy thing is the world has made it so difficult for us to have the time to grow the plants, gather the plants, buy the plants and have time to cook the plants. The evil-doers of the world would rather take the plants, over process them, and wrap plastic in the them – and effectively make them cancer-causing agents and pollute the ocean with more plastic.
So I am sitting here in the morning and thinking of the beautiful banana that my daughter is adding to the pancake mix. I guess bananas have dopamine in them. Who knows what the mechanism is for the dopamine from the bananas effect on your health, or whether that dopamine is absorbed in the gut? We all do 100% know that eating more plants elevates your mood and gives us better health.
Grateful thoughts to the avocados we finished this last week, as our daughter made home-made guacamole to share. Grateful thoughts to the last of the tomatoes that we added to the stir frys an the pastas this week, and those tomatoes were from our garden. Grateful thoughts to the three large pumpkins we have in the back garden waiting for grandmother to come home from New York to decide when it’s time to take down the vines. Grateful to the Aerobin 400 composter that powers our garden, and helps us avert methane from landfill at the same time.
I’m one of the happiest pediatricians I know these days, and I think it’s simply because I’m eating more plants. I think my favorite dinosaur has got to be a brontosaurus! Yes it is, because they eat plants as well!
This is the emotional journey of a formerly burnt out pediatrician who decided to pick up trash on the beach. I’m trying to get to 1000 bags of trash, and things have been slowing down a bit. For the month of August and September I only gathered 20 bags of plastic pollution. The reason why is that during my litter-picking I realized that I was better, and that the world actually was in need of a super-hero to help stop the existential threat of climate change. So Dr. Plastic Picker decided to join the legions of other super heroes that are trying to save the earth. Which is why this month the actual litter picking slowed down, because there were huge legislative wins this month.
It’s 619am and I’m up with a beautiful cup of matcha green tea soy latte. To be honest, it’s not really a soy latte because I just use a little bit of soy milk. It’s really just matcha green tea with a teaspoon of sugar and a few splashes of soy milk. But it’s my morning elixir and I love it. I’m up a bit later than usual, but this is because yesterday was such a busy day. I had been up at 430am and had a flurry of activity yesterday morning. I had purchased with Mr. Plastic Picker 5 ears of corn from Vons that was on sale for $0.20 each. I was trying to avoid the plastic packaging from the preselected corn wrapped in plastic, and got the corn on sale still in the husks. Reminder to self that Vons does not have great produce. The corn was kind of sketchy while I removed the husks. But I was inspired and composted the husks, made instapot corn, and made some fried rice with the remaining corn. I pretty much just used a bunch of leftovers in the fridge to make everything. It was all very decent and the kids and husband ate in all while I was at work. But work yesterday was long (but meaningful), and I had a surprise advocacy project as SB1137 the oil and gas setbacks bill was up at the California State Natural Resources Committee and Dr. AM from San Francisco and I were trying to get AAP California to sign on to support with Physicians for Social Responsibility. In the end Dr. AM got it done, but I was part of the texting and trying to call our Executive Director to co-sign the letter of support.
Therefore yesterday was meaningful but exhausting in the end. I had Dr. MC, my new baby doctor I call her with me yesterday afternoon. It takes time to teach, and I taught and it was wonderful. But I wasn’t able to head home until 615pm last night from clinic and my charts were still all open. But I’m up now and I’ll close them while I finish the rest of my matcha green tea “soy latte.”
But in the daze of also making a quick instapot pasta dinner for the family, and laying my head on the kitchen table while everyone else was finishing dinner – I recounted the day and was happy to have lived it. I have no regrets from yesterday. But my daughter woke me up after I had stumbled up into bed and slept probably at least one cycle of REM sleep, and she had re-started her Vietnamese lessons.
We’ve been talking as a family about multi-layered identities. We have always told our children they are half Korean and half Vietnamese. But I think that is wrong. One of my friends told me, telling someone they are half means they are missing something. Now that the world is changed, I get that. I understand. And my daughter is pushing me to understand. She already speaks three languages decently well including Korean, but now she wants to formally learn Vietnamese. I guess I take it for granted because it’s my mother-tongue. I can teach her easily and I have in bits and pieces, and even have the textbook program from our old language professor from college. There was no reason for me to push my language before. Our oldest son had been language delayed so I worried about too many for her. But she has the ear, and actually has perfect tones and annunciation in Vietnamese. I’ve taught her how to count already to 100. She can count by 5s up to 100. She knows all the family honorific terms. She knows her colors. She knows some countries. She knows basic grammar. She can ask for any Vietnamese dish. She can tell her grandmother where her family members are. She knows some animals. Hey!!! Wait!!!! I got to give myself credit here!!!! I’ve taught her a lot already! LOL.
So it’s August 30, 2022 and my daughter has self started herself on formal Vietnamese lessons last night when I was in a daze of sleep. Her father was helping her because he learned Vietnamese (because he loved me even back in college) and turned on the program for her. She was working on her pronunciation drills as I was floating into another cycle of REM sleep. It was very melodious her going over the pronunciation drills with the recorded voice of our old Harvard Vietnamese instructor. And I’m happy this morning because I know she wants to learn Vietnamese because she loves me, and I’m Vietnamese. It will be fun and easy to accelerate her language skills. I never was concerned. She’s really smart, my ex-27 week preemie. She has an ear for languages. And now she has a friend at school in her homeroom that is fluent in Vietnamese too and she can practice.
My 14-year-old daughter loves me, her Vietnamese mother and insists on learning my language. She’s actually nagging me to teach her more. It’s a beautiful world and I’m grateful for it.