윤 Family: The Only Son of the Only Son of the Only Son Hit his SAT and GPA Goal – It’s Been Stressful Being a Korean Daughter-In-Law (RELIEF)
July 16, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
I never knew Mr. Plastic Picker’s surname has a Chinese and Vietnamese equivalent. Per Wikipedia “It derives from the Chinese character 尹 also used for the Chinese surname Yǐn and Doãn in Vietnam.” My surname is the most common surname in Vietnam. I’m attached to it and did not change it. But it doesn’t carry the gravitas and responsibility that my husband has for his surname. My husband is the only son of the only son. Therefore our eldest son is the only son of the only son of the only son – in a family and culture that is still patriarchal.
I think all of us have that moment in life that changes your life’s course. For me it was that moment when I saw a college junior doing his laundry in the basement of Adam’s House at Harvard College. You have that moment when you see your future children and know, aha – he’s the one. That he decided that I was the one at the same time was 운명 , destiny.
That destiny of falling in love with someone, and then absorbing their family’s stories has shaped the course of my life. Our daughter often will ask me what my dreams and goals were as a young girl and I’ll be honest with you and her. My goal is life was to marry a cute Asian-ish boy and have a family, and maybe go away to the East Coast and wear preppy clothes. I loved books as a young child, and loved stories and loved my family. I loved the busyness of a kitchen with my family coming in and out. I wanted that for myself. I get lonely without other family around, and I wanted a busy house. This is why I agreed to live with my parents in law as a naive 19-year-old college student, when Mr. Plastic Picker and I started dating.
As I sit in the kitchen this morning and typing, I realize I achieved my dream. Mr. Plastic Picker just finished making a rukus with his hand-ground coffee and went upstairs to begin his extra shift on the weekend. His mother had to come out too, because whenever he is somewhere his mother needs to be there to comment and witness and be noticed. I sit here typing and will make a comment here and there, but living in my own blogging world. Our two children are fast asleep, as they watched Stranger Things together late last night. One is upstairs and was asking me what fungal acne was last night, and I had to look it up. And the only son of the only son of the only son is downstairs – blissfully asleep and will awaken before noon as he has plans to go to Belmont Park with the senior boys from his little prep school.
But the cute college junior boy that I saw doing his laundry and fell in love with, his family story is more complicated. There is a heaviness and responsibility that comes with being a boy in some Korean families. I only understand some having observed one particular boy for over 25 years. But said boy I decided that I loved, and I absorbed some of his obsessions, his stresses and his dreams. And it hasn’t been easy. It’s not easy having children as a dual MD couple especially when you are still training. I wanted to have my children with me while I was living most of my life, and wanted to give them the best genetic chance while my ovaries were still young. Hence my relatively young age for a doctor in my early 40s with already two children in high school. But the truth is that children need time, and we didn’t have the time for him when he was under three.
Fast forward fourteen years later, and every decision by Mr. Plastic Picker and I and his paternal grandparents has been to make sure the only son of the only son of the only son was going to do okay. And for each family okay means something different. That ok is different from my family, but I with my eyes-open married into the 윤/ 尹/ Yǐn /Doãn family and they told me that they were special. Dr. Plastic Picker believes that everyone is special. But they kept on telling me that their family was particularly special.
And it’s the summer of senior year and our son is sleeping peacefully in his room. He has plans with his friends this afternoon. He has no cavities and straight teeth given our orthodontic coverage. He can articulate well and be understood by others. He is working at a cool internship this summer writing articles with a UCSD student for a non-profit newsletter. He hasn’t fallen in love yet but there was a young girl who fell in love (or at least a lot of like) with him, but she is safely across the Atlantic ocean and can only dream about him via Instagram. And he hit his GPA and SAT goal. You’d think I’d be euphoric and think my son is brilliant. He is intelligent just like all our children. You’d think I’d be inordinately mommy-proud but I’m more relieved than anything. I did have to tell everyone at work (thank you to everyone who listened). But I’m mostly just relieved that he has a choice. I’m actually mostly want to laugh, because in the end he did it – in a relaxed Southern California way and having played a lot of video games and making YouTube videos at the same time. He did it his way, and he was looking at his friend’s dorm room of a different college program and that dorm room was nicer than the ivy league summer dorm room he stayed at. He says he might go there instead of the planned college, and that is totally fine. Its 50K cheaper than the planned one, and much easier to get into not requiring the SAT and GPA benchmarks he set out for himself. I’ll let the grandparents and the the father figure that one out with the son of the only son of the only son. I did my part. The stress of being a Korean daughter-in-law is slowly seeping from my body.
My parents-in-law love me. Mostly because I’m a conscientious mother to the two children, but particularly to their grandson. It’s a lot of work to raise kids. I will be laughing all the way to the beach this morning, because that kid played A LOT OF VIDEO GAMES LOL LOL LOL