Multilayered Identity: The Vietnamese Lessons Have Begun
August 30, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
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.