Why I Stayed

(Trigger Warning: Physical and emotional violence.)

I stayed because I was too young to leave. Because I didn’t want to cause my mother any more pain than she was already suffering. Because someone had to protect my younger brother. I stayed because I loved him. I still do. I stayed because he was my father.

It’s hard for me to classify my father’s behavior as abuse because hey, who doesn’t have a story about their parents beating them when they were younger? And shoot, we turned out fine, right? Wasn’t it just a different time? An Asian thing? A Christian thing?

But then, I look back on some of the things that happened and there really is no justification for what my father did to me.

I remember refusing to eat celery at dinner and my father just erupting into a rage, pushing my plate into my lap. I distinctly remember empty shrimp shells falling to the floor. I remember screaming at him and fleeing to my room, my father chasing after me. I locked the door to my room but he just kept slamming his body against the door that I was afraid he’d break down the door. I recall being more worried that the door would be broken. I was resigned to getting beaten and opened the door and scrambled into a corner of my room. My father grabbed the broken post of my four-poster bed and would have bludgeoned me repeatedly had my grandmother (his mother) not inserted herself between us. I remember being forced to apologize for making my father so angry.

Even thinking about this event over twenty years later, my stomach clenches, my heart races, my fingers tremble, and I want to huddle in a corner and weep.

This is why I recognize the defeated look on Cookie Monster’s face when I yell. It is like going back in time.

It’s hard to admit and really remember versus just reciting past infractions in a detached sort of nonchalance. It’s hard because who wants to be a victim? And maybe I was blowing it out of proportion? Maybe I was just super melodramatic and wanted attention? And if it was so bad, how come my mother didn’t know my father hit me when she wasn’t around (she maintains to this day that she didn’t – and I believe her, as incredulous as I still find it). How come my brother seemed to escape the worst of it?

I used to starve myself. Punch myself repeatedly in the stomach. Cut myself. Tear up my pictures. Destroy gifts my father gave me. I tried to slash my wrists but did it the wrong direction and too hesitantly. I tried to swallow a bunch of pills but was too afraid to die and of hell or purgatory or wherever it is that suicides allegedly go so I only took a few over the recommended daily dosage of Advil and then fearfully, prayerfully went to sleep.

I couldn’t even kill myself properly.

I still don’t understand why I would hurt myself as a way to say, “Fuck you” to my father. I’m not clear on how injuring myself would have done a damn thing to him, but that was my thinking at the time. I was only in junior high and high school.

But coping mechanisms are hard to shake. I starved myself when I was upset or did various forms of self-harm well into young adulthood.

And yet, despite living through what my father did to me, I still don’t understand why my mother stayed. My father smothered my mother with a pillow in some anonymous Chinese hotel until she almost blacked out. My father held a butcher knife to my mother’s throat while I called the police on a very memorable Father’s Day. Even when my mother finally was divorcing him last year, I feared for her safety.

But when I force myself to consider her situation, it makes a little more sense and I have more compassion. Likely, she stayed because she had two children. She had a mortgage. She grew up in a society that valued men over women, where violence against women was acceptable. She didn’t want her parents to be right (they didn’t approve the match). She was in a foreign country, away from all her family and support. She belonged to a church and a culture that considered divorce anathema and against God’s will. She was the age that I am now, afraid, alone, and so desperately sad.

I used to judge her so harshly. I still do, in my moments of frustration and anger.

The irony is that the main lesson I learned from my father was thus: Never be the victim. I refused to become like my mother, tread upon and used up by a horrible man. And so, I am become my father. (I hear this in my mother’s voice when we argue. I see it in her disappointment and despair. I hear this as a punishment in my depressed moments, when my brain only spews lies.)

But I fight the lies because I love my children. I fight my darkness so that my children will have less of this shit in their beautiful souls. I fight and fail but get back up because the same ferocity with which I used to protect myself and trammel over others in my selfishness has been transmuted to defend my children from my own worst moments.

I left my father three years ago around this time. My brother left a few months later. My mother finally left after that and the divorce finalized last March.

I don’t know how to end this post. It seems a bit artificial and contrived to take advantage of headlines and trending hashtags. I assure you, it is not. But since my last post, I have been thinking a lot and although I feel ill and trembly at the thought of pressing “Publish,” I also feel ill and trembly at the thought of not.

So, we’ll just leave it at that.

Temper, Temper

It has been a rough morning. Not sure exactly why since it really is your basic morning where my kids refuse to eat breakfast, I worry they will be hungry, then I scream at them at new volumes and crush their little souls and see them slump into their chairs, zoning me out as a coping mechanism because Mommy is yelling and mean and cruel and I know I am making things worse but my fury is so acute and I feel helpless and angry at myself and at my recalcitrant children and GAH. It’s not even 9am.

I always apologize and hug them and kiss them and tell them I love them, but you know what? It sounds really familiar. Both because I do it to my kids so often, and because I remember my father doing this to me. Well, perhaps not the apologizing. He never apologized. But he would say he loved me and hug me and kiss me after beating me or screaming at me or in general, making me feel worthless.

I feel the sweeping tide of violence rise up within me in moments of great frustration. It takes a lot of control to not want to physically throttle my kids – or worse. I abuse my power over my small children, using my voice and love like weapons to browbeat my kids into obeisance.

I make my children – especially Cookie Monster – feel small and helpless and incapable of pleasing me. He lashes out. I hear him change his voice to please me or just to clown around; insecure. Gamera will tell me not to yell at Cookie Monster and tell me I’m not kind. She will also cry so piteously. Glow Worm just stares.

I am a monster.

I am a tantrum throwing toddler.

I am my father.

I am sad and ashamed.

I realized something this morning. When I get this angry, it is the same type of anger I get when I am trying to assemble a piece of furniture only despite hours of sweat and labor, I can’t find the right part, or the piece doesn’t fit, or I’m done and there are too many leftover screws to be safe. Only when I kick the instructions or throw down my wrench in disgust and curse and bellow, I am mad at an inanimate object. I am mad because the things I’m trying to bend to my will aren’t bending the right way in the right speed with the right attitude. Except when I’m mad at my children, they aren’t things to be manipulated; my children are tiny people.

Tiny people to whom I’ve been entrusted not to break, to handle with care and dignity, and to protect (at a basic minimum). Even more so, my children are tiny people to whom I’ve been entrusted to nurture and teach and grow and help thrive.

It’s just, why can’t they be tiny obedient people?

That really would make my job a lot easier. With a lot less yelling.

Truth is, I like yelling. I mean, I hate myself when I do it, but I feel slightly less out of control (even though it’s the exact opposite). It feels like “parenting” to me. (Sigh. Just when you think you’re past a lot of brokeness, you blink and you discover even more.) Yelling makes me feel powerful. And I am. Yay me. Way to go. Yelling at small children. So strong and brave and courageous I am.

Ever since coming back from Taiwan, I have felt off. Either a mild depression or some mild dissatisfaction with my life. But I feel it seeping out in the ways I treat my family, the way my discontent sinks deeper and deeper into my bones. I’m not sure I have figured out what it is, yet.

I want to blame external circumstances and other people, but let’s be brutally honest. It’s me. I have a problem.

I want to believe that I can just power through and solve this on my own. I want to re-read good parenting books or just hope that re-reading the Bible or whatever trendy parenting blog will fix me and yay! I’m all better! But I know myself. I will get better for a few days – if I’m lucky, a few weeks, and then slowly but surely, I slip back into who I really am.

Water always finds its level.

Holy crap. I think I’m depressed. As in, not an emotional state, but a physical state of being. I will need to think on this some more.

I hesitate to end the post on such a Bleh note. Hopefully, I’m just in a funk and not a full blown episode of depression.

Wish me luck, friends! And Jesus. I’m sure I need lots of Jesus. And babies. Lots of fatty babies for me to snarfle and kiss and devour and then hand back to their mommies.

Pants on Fire

I have a general rule that I will not lie to my kids – even white lies, lies of convenience, or statements to make my life easier. I do teach my kids about God and Jesus, so depending on your philosophical bent, that may or may not count as a lie. But since I do believe in God and Jesus, at least I am not technically lying to the kids (or at least, intentionally). The main reason I don’t, even when it would make my life considerably better, is because it breaks trust. And once my kids catch me in a lie (and they will!), they will start questioning everything I have ever told them in the past because hey, if I lied about this, what was stopping me from lying to them about that?

I even include Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. (At least it cuts down on fictional gifts I have to purchase!) I know. I’m such a killjoy. But Santa is an old white dude who rewards you for being good on Jesus’s birthday – and it sounds a lot like the stereotypical view of who God is – so no thanks! Now, my kids know ABOUT Santa. But they just think he’s in a costume. Like Spiderman. Plus, it is much easier to explain all the Santas that crop up during Christmas time.

In fact, not only do I try not to lie to my children, I try not to lie in general. After all, what’s the point of telling my kids not to lie, not lying to my kids, etc., if they just hear me telling people lies (white or otherwise) just to make my life easier? Of course, I have no problem lying via omission. For instance, someone brings a food that is not delicious. I won’t say that the food is yummy. But I will thank them for bringing the food or comment on the plate that the food is on, or whatever. I will try to say true things in as kind a way as possible without outright lying. Hopefully, my kids will absorb this lesson without me having to explicitly tell them not to lie. Aren’t the most important lessons in life learned this way?

I find that the temptation to lie is similar to the temptation to deflect all the questions my kids have about their bodies or stuff in general. I am very honest with the kids about their body parts and I have no qualms about Hapa Papa or my nakedness around the kids. This, of course, leads to some very awkward and hilarious conversations. I’ve had to explain to Cookie Monster why his penis gets big, what pubic hair is, what a vagina is, etc. My reward for all my non-euphamizing are these types of conversations (FB friends will recognize a good many of these stories):

1) Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! 
Hapa Papa: Papa just has a penis.
Cookie MonsterGamera has a gagina!
Hapa Papa: Yes, Gamera has a gagina. Cookie Monster has a penis.
Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! HAHAHAHAAHAHAH!

2) After a month or so, we finally figured out why Cookie Monster thought Hapa Papa had a vagina and a penis. He thought the pubic hair was the vagina. He also pointed at Hapa Papa’s face and said, “Gina face! Gina mouth!”

3) Gamera: My penis hurts, Mom. 
Me: You don’t have a penis, honey. You have a vagina. 
Gamera: My ‘gina hurts, Mom. My penis fell off.

Anyway, this post isn’t to make you feel bad or judged if you do teach your kids about Santa or The Easter Bunny or even if you tell your kids or other people white lies. This is just my personal policy. I think it comes from my traumatic upbringing of constantly swallowing my father’s numerous lies in addition to reinforcing his lies with lies of our own (many at my mother’s behest). My father wasn’t even a very good liar – that’s how insulting he was. He didn’t even think enough of us to lie properly and NOT get caught. He just thought we were too stupid to catch him.

Of course, telling the truth is not the same as being blunt or using the truth to bludgeon people. (Although, incredibly tempting.) I suppose the key to this is to tell the truth in love. (Often, an incredibly difficult task.) It helps that I don’t really have a good filter when I talk to people so I am usually a little too honest in general. It also helps that many of my friends also consciously choose not to lie to their kids so we can support one another. I’m curious. Do you lie to your kids? If so, what do you lie to your kids about? Tell me in the comments.

Our Family Stories

I recently read a book called, When My Name Was Keoko (affiliate link). It’s a YA book from the perspectives of two Korean siblings, a boy and a girl, and their experiences of growing up in Japanese occupied Korea during WWII. I loved it. Of course, I am biased because I do enjoy YA books and historical fiction in particular because then I can learn history without having to “learn” history. (Side note: Who knew that Japan occupied Korea from 1910-1945? Not me!)

The book touched on hard and terrible subjects without becoming maudlin or manipulative or overly depressing. (A somewhat difficult task considering the subject matter.) The author, Linda Sue Park, did a wonderful job. However, for the first time, I found myself conflicted when reading about this horrible time during Japanese history.

You see, my kids are part Japanese and it is very difficult for me to reconcile wartime atrocities with their cultural heritage. After all, the US was founded on genocide and slavery and I am just fine with living in the US. Plus, I am also okay with Germans (my kids are also part German) as well as less okay with the Chinese part. (I have my own reasons for my distinct distaste for Mainland China.) I am very fine with the Taiwanese part – but that’s because I’m extremely biased in my opinion of my own people. (Who isn’t?)

Anyhow, I found myself once again ashamed at my complete lack of historical awareness and a renewed desire to actively learn for myself (as well as teach my children) our Chinese/Taiwanese/Japanese history. Up until this point, I must say I didn’t care as much about Japanese history because let’s face it, my kids are being raised Taiwanese American because that is what I am. But I have always felt cut off from my cultural heritage and family because my parents didn’t emphasize our family histories and I envy all the people who have stories passed down through generations. I would prefer my children have the stories as part of who they are.

I only have two living grandparents left and there is a major language hurdle for my maternal grandfather as well as an emotional hurdle for my paternal grandmother. (I despise her.) This makes me sad. But I think I will encourage my own mother to tell me and the kids more stories of her family and childhood. And perhaps, I will cajole my uncle to tell me stories of my father’s family and childhood. In addition, it would be nice to have Hapa Papa’s mother tell more of her and her family’s stories as well. I will have to do better with keeping in contact with Hapa Papa’s father’s side of the family, too.

As I mentioned before, I often felt abbreviated and adrift due to my not having a firm grasp of who my families were and how we came to be here in the US. I don’t know if it is a cultural thing or an immigrant thing or just my parents, but I rarely heard anything about their pasts or childhoods when growing up. I felt as if we just sprouted out of thin air.

Now, to be fair, that did have some advantage in that I haven’t felt the burden of generations past. But as a result, I also feel disconnected from my families – and that makes me very sad.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more drawn to histories and biographies/autobiographies. I am much better at grasping and learning through stories versus dried up facts so I am looking forward to expanding my library and my mind. I think I will start with myths and legends of China and Japan. After all, how is it that I know more of Jewish, Greek and Norse Mythology than my own peoples? And who are a people without the stories they tell themselves about their gods and themselves? Plus, this will make it easier to teach the kids about their heritage as well.

Then, I will expand into stories set in historical situations or perhaps I will have to suck it up and read long non-fiction tomes. *sigh* The things I do for my children.

How have your families passed along generational history, stories, legends, etc.? I am very curious and hoping to steal some good ideas. Let me know in the comments.

This Seemed So Much More Fun In My Mind

My father ruined many a family outing/vacation/road trip/whatever for me. To this day, I am not a huge fan of traveling due in part, because of my father’s temper. However, in this one area, I find myself sympathizing with him now that I have children and plan events for us to attend as a family.

My father used to get so mad if we weren’t thrilled with waking up before the sun rose just so we could see the sunrise mirrored at Lake Louise, or if we just didn’t care about seeing stuff in general and just wanted to sleep in and read or whatever on vacation. I mean, now that I know how much food, lodging, and travel costs, not to mention taking those precious vacation days off, I get why he was so frustrated and angry. I get it. I really do. But that still doesn’t mean he was right to lose his temper and scream and yell at us and in general, bully us into doing what he wanted.

At any rate, now that I am forcing my own children to do stuff I want to do, I find myself reflecting a lot on his frustration, which manifested as a grown up tantrum. (How’s that for a convoluted sentence?)

Two weekends ago, I took the family to go cherry-picking in Brentwood. As long time readers know, cherry-picking is one of the things I want to do every year with the family. I remember having a fantastic time picking cherries with my parents when I was little and I wanted to pass these memories along to my children. Plus, I love cherries and when they are 50% cheaper at the local farm vs at the store, it is worth the 45 minute drive!

Sadly, this year did not quite go as planned. I was super excited to go and we went the first week the orchards were open. We packed the kids in the minivan, brought along our covered wagon, prepared a picnic, and off we went! Unfortunately, due to the drought, my favorite farm was already closed – and it wasn’t updated on the website! So, we followed a bunch of cars and parked at a different farm.

Right away, we were told that we couldn’t bring food and eat at the orchards anymore. Too many people were leaving all their trash and food at the sites and making it a health hazard. Then, when we got to the trees, they were already all stripped of fruit. Cookie Monster and Gamera were pretty excited to pick cherries, but since there really weren’t any for them to pick, they got bored. Which makes them want snacks. Which they couldn’t eat on site. Hapa Papa carried Glow Worm in the Ergo for the first time, but Glow Worm wanted me so he kept crying.

When I finally found trees that actually had cherries on them, the cherries weren’t even sweet! As I tried to salvage the situation, Gamera peed all over herself because Hapa Papa, not being used to having a baby on him, couldn’t get Gamera to the potty fast enough. At that point, I was really frustrated and mad. I LOVE picking cherries, but nothing was going the way I planned or envisioned. I wanted to throw things and be angry and snipe at Hapa Papa. I had mentally debated staying, but the kids were complaining (and Gamera was WET) and hungry and it was hot and sticky and Hapa Papa’s allergies were destroying him so instead, I huffed off, paid for the cherries, and calmed down enough to just admit defeat and take the kids home.

It was a good decision.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, I forced the kids to go hiking again (this will be our third time in two months!) and though they had a good time, it was initially not looking good. I had originally suggested we go to a trail that was closer to our house – but the trail overlaps with cows and is mostly uphill so the kids don’t like it. Plus, there are a lot of cow pies on the trail. So much so that the kids call this particular trail, “Poo Poo Mountain.” They begged me not to take them to Poo Poo Mountain. (Sorry, every time I think of this name, I burst out laughing.) Fortunately, I understood and didn’t mind the slightly longer drive to Regional Redwood Park where the trail has plenty of shade and is nice and paved and mostly flat.

I’m glad I listened to my kids and changed venues. Although I will make them go to Poo Poo Mountain again! I will prevail!

Then, on Sunday, I gathered up the kids again for our yearly visit to the local Art and Wind Festival. Every year, I take the kids and buy lots of ride tickets. Every year, I have more than half left over. Cookie Monster will only ride the train and this time, after waiting almost an hour for the train, when he finally got on with Hapa Papa, the train broke down and had to be recharged. Again, every one was hot and sweaty and although the kids initially enjoyed the crafts and stickers and balloons, all they wanted was to eat and go home.

I don’t know why I do this to myself every year. And yet, next year, I’ll do it again. Oh, who am I kidding? We’re going to do it again in June when the County Fair comes into town.

What I am most proud of, other than my dogged determination and hopeless optimism in the face of facts, is despite my utter disappointment and frustration at these less than ideal situations, I didn’t take it out on the kids. They had a reasonably good time considering how miserable they were. And for the most part, I hope that these yearly traditions, despite (or perhaps because of) the suffering I’m subjecting my poor children to, they will have fond memories of doing these stupid outings with their crazy mother.

Not Ready to Make Nice

Every so often, I wonder to myself, “Why am I still not talking to my father?” After all, my parents are divorced, he is free to do whatever he wants. Shouldn’t I give him another chance? Shouldn’t I give him an opportunity to start over? I mean, if all children of divorced parents didn’t speak to their dads or moms because of adultery or bad behavior, there would be a lot of estranged families.

Perhaps there are.

My uncle and his family came to visit us this Christmas. This is the first time they have visited (other than for my brother’s wedding) in approximately twenty-five to thirty years. My uncle had refused to attend my wedding because my father was in attendance. My father was not invited to my brother’s wedding.

At any rate, I feel as if all my uncle and aunt could talk about was my father. Perhaps they simply have no one else to talk to about it. Or rather, no one else can quite understand their situation. It’s like a survivor’s club. But I couldn’t help but feel as if just by talking about him nonstop, giving an unending relational post-mortem, that we were still allowing my father to hold so much power over us. I suppose it is somewhat better than not talking at all about my father and the havoc he has caused. I often forget that my immediate family was not the only family torn apart by my father. He also tore apart his original family, with his brother, mother, and father.

There is a power in us never saying anything about my father. There is also a power in us ONLY talking about my father. Quite frankly, I was incredibly sick of the subject.

I understand. My father has now made it one of his primary goals to make my uncle’s life miserable. He has moved to the community where my uncle lives and has started to intrude in my uncle’s social and religious circles. My uncle is afraid and unwilling to do anything. He is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t know why or what exactly the problem is – but I have ever been the aggressor. Also, I know barely anything about the situation. Perhaps my father really does want a public fight – and the only way to neutralize him is to ignore him and pretend he doesn’t exist.

I don’t know. I have always butt heads with my father. We are very much alike in temper and temperament. Of course, I am much better looking.

I confronted him on all the small things (except the only thing that really mattered – his lying, cheating ways). My mother and brother rarely confronted him. They just let him bluster on, unwilling (and perhaps, the smarter for it) to engage in an argument just to be right or be heard. I still haven’t decided which strategy was better.

I want to start a new conversation.

I want my children to go through life completely ignorant through first hand experience (not necessarily ignorant in general) what it is like to have an absent, unreliable, and selfish parent. I want my children to have nothing to do with violence perpetrated against them or their mother. I want my children to know peace, stability, love, and freedom.

I spent so much of my life afraid and hiding. Hiding my true feelings and thoughts about my father, my mother, my occupation, my studies, my everything. Because my family was built upon lie after lie to protect our dark secrets.

Such a fucking waste of time.

It was like covering up a cancer or a gangrenous limb. How can we get well if we pretend there is no illness?

Ultimately, that’s what it comes back down to. If my father were no longer a plague or a cancer, I’d consider allowing him into my and my children’s lives. He is still my father. But since he still is bent on revenge and only looking out for himself, it is my job – my duty – as a parent to shield my children. I am like Gandalf fighting the Balrog.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

It seems a tad overdramatic and silly now that it is in gif form. But the sentiment remains the same.

Also, I am allowed some gallows humor, right? If anything, at least my crappy father has given me so much potential blogging and parenting material! Thanks, crappy dad!

I now have a blueprint for what NOT to do as a parent. I can now screw my children up in an altogether new and different fashion. Babies, consider yourself warned.

Pattern Interuption

Prior to dating Hapa Papa, all my relationships were full of drama. When things were good, they were AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and FATE and when they were bad, they were HORRIBLE and ALL IS LOST and ANGST ANGST ANGST. So exhausting.

Part of it was I was in my late teens and early twenties and my pre-frontal cortex wasn’t finished developing. (Yes, yes… that’s it! Blame it on the pre-frontal cortex!) Part of it was me learning how to navigate my own needs, wants, and desires as well as healing from the ways my parents (in particular, my father’s abandonment) broke me. Also, I was crazy. And emotionally unstable. So, there was that working for me.

Since I was always playing out the drama that unfolded only in my head, I was constantly pushing my boyfriends away, expecting them to chase after me and beg me to stay. That was how I confirmed I was valuable and loved. I was the damsel in distress needing the hero to run after and save me me from myself. Needless to say, it was tiring for everyone and eventually, the “passion” as I thought it was (vs the incredibly passive aggressive co-dependency that it truly was) burned out.

Well, when Hapa Papa and I started dating, I would pull that crap on him and he would have none of it. More to the point, he was completely oblivious. I was so confused. One night, I was so pissed at him, I slammed the door to our apartment and left. We lived in a sketchy neighborhood so I fully expected him to come running after me, begging me to come back and stay and to be safe. Nope. The man had the nerve to fall asleep almost immediately.

I stormed back in after about fifteen minutes and roughly shook Hapa Papa awake, demanding him to explain himself. He looked up at me, blinking sleepily and said, “I assumed you left because you didn’t want to be around me. So I let you be by yourself. I just figured if you wanted to be with me, you’d come back. Was I wrong? I’m not really sure. Is that the way relationships are supposed to work?”

I was floored. I think I stood there, mouth agape, opening and closing like a fish. My brain stuttered to a stop.

“Well?” Hapa Papa asked. “Was I supposed to chase after you? Is that what you want? Should I do that from now on? Because that seems really stupid to me. If you wanted me to be with you, why would you leave?”

*sigh* I hate it when he’s right. I thought about it for a bit, my brain frantically churning through all these scenarios about what I wanted and what would be the best response and I gave up. I told him that he should continue what he was doing. If I stormed out, he was absolutely not to chase me.

Turns out, that was one of the best decisions I ever made. With that pattern of victim/hero disrupted, we were able to proceed on healthier grounds. Of course, there were still times I still bolted because I was pissed off beyond all reason, but I did so knowing that Hapa Papa was not going to be chasing after me. I tested him a few times, but he never did. After awhile, it just got lonely and stupid so I stopped.

Now, of course, we still fight every now and then, but I can honestly say that I have never had a healthier relationship. It also helps that Hapa Papa is what my brother calls The Most Patient Man in the World. Thank the Good Lord for that!

Plus, Hapa Papa is so quick to apologize and admit when he is wrong that just by doing so, it immediately diffuses most volatile situations and stops me from going to DefCon 1. Even I am now able to look past my immense pride and sense of “Look Out for Number One” (a lesson I inscribed onto my heart once I watched my father walk all over my mother for the majority of my life) and have come to apologize as quickly as possible. He has been good for my soul.

All because that one night, Hapa Papa let me walk out that door. I am utterly grateful.