Raising a Second Generation Canadian

This was me in second grade bragging about losing my tooth:

“Look Mrs. P, my tooth fell out yesterday!”

“Oh wow, did you get money from the tooth fairy?”

“The what?”

“You know, the tooth fairy? You put your teeth under your pillow and you get money.”

“Oh yeah…I knew that!”

I had no idea what or who the tooth fairy was, but I was good at pretending to know things early on during my childhood. To fit in and to not stand out as one of the few Chinese kids in town, there were many moments where I pretended to know about Canadian culture, where in fact I didn’t.

Immigrating to a small Alberta town at a young age, I sort of hated being Chinese and I certainly wished my parents understood Canadian culture better.

I wanted to be the kid that knew the words to all the Christmas carols, and all the words to the NKOTB songs. I wanted a normal Christmas tree like I saw on TV, not some giant plant with red pockets as ornaments.

I just wanted to be a white kid living with a white family.

My brother and I posing in front of our Chinmas Tree on Christmas Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were times where I didn’t want anything to do with my Chinese culture, and I wanted my family to adopt to this Canadian culture as quickly as possible.

It’s funny how perceptions change.

Looking back at it now, I feel the complete opposite. As I mentioned before how incredible it was for my immigrant parents to give me the ultimate Canadian birthday party, now I am proud of my culture, and I am proud to be the Hong Kong family that moved to rural Alberta.

So as we just finished celebrating the Lunar New Year, I started thinking:

How much of my Chinese Culture will I imprint on my daughter?

Should I enroll her in Chinese school? Make her watch Chinese cartoons? Only speak to her in Cantonese? I’m really not sure.

On one hand I do not want to impose and overwhelm her with the culture. I don’t want to cause her to feel singled out or embarrassed by it. I mean she’ll face enough embarrassment with me as dad as it is. 

My Daughter Watching Doraemon in Our Native Tongue: Cantonese

On the other hand I don’t want her to miss out on what makes having dual-cultures so great.

A Digression

 

Take for example: Food

I love the fact that part of my upbringing exposed me to both Chinese and Western foods.

I once proudly said to my wife, “Man I love the fact that I’m Chinese. Can you imagine not eating Hong Kong Style cafe food?”

(When you know someone for close to 20 years, you’ll talk about anything, including Chinese food . ?)

For the uninitiated, HK Cafe food is basically North American diner food with a Chinese twist.

The lemon tea, and milk teas are as staple as an espresso in any Italian cafe, or a coffee is most North American coffeehouse.

It goes beyond food too as both my wife and I speak Cantonese fairly fluently. It’s our helpful tool to use when we’re travelling abroad, or secretly commenting on other people, or negotiating a big purchase. That’s right, whenever you see an English speaking couple quietly speaking another language, they’re either talking crap about you, or trying to plot something sinister.

End of Digression

 

Our heritage and culture is very much of our daily lives. But what if I don’t teach her well enough? It’s like the movie Multiplicity each copy just gets worse. (Yes that was a 90s movie reference starring Michael Keaton) My knowledge of Chinese culture is basically a crappier copy of my parents. Will she embrace this condensed and dumbed down version of Chinese culture?

Our cultural knowledge will just get worse and worse.

My parents exclusively spoke to my brother and I in Cantonese, and that’s one thing I disliked when I was younger but now appreciate so much. Sure, it didn’t exactly help me with learning English early on (Shoutout to ESL), but now that I am older, I’ve managed to learn the English language pretty well (Lingo dead? Lingo is dead).   Prior to having her, when my wife and I had those pre-parenting negotiations, I agreed to be the parent that solely speaks Chinese to her. This was based on a study that said that in order for a child to pick up on the second language, one parent must exclusively speak to them in that language so that they see it as a necessary means to communicate. So far that hasn’t really come to plan. Instead, I throw around the occasional Cantonese phrase, along with some Chinglish.

This kid is going to grow up confused. Instead of best of both worlds, she’s going to benefit from the mediocrity of both.

I guess the point to all of this is, I need to do better for her. She may not use the language when she grows up, but in the event that it ever gives her some sort of advantage it’ll be worth it. I have to make the effort to try as a parent. Right?

Going back to losing my tooth as a child: I may not have received money under my pillow the first night. But interestingly  enough, after telling my mom about the whole tooth fairy thing, I mysteriously received 25 cents under my pillow the next morning.

And I didn’t even put my tooth under my pillow!!

The Chinese family that I hated so much to be a part of, was actually pretty willing to adapt to and embrace Canadian culture. I just didn’t know it or understand it at the time. I mean, my parents did had to at the time: assimilate to a brand new foreign culture, get a job, learn a new language, and raise two boys. Maybe figuring out these weird Western nuances weren’t on the top of their list of to-dos. Perhaps I should have given my parents a lot more credit; because of them I ended up getting the best of both worlds.

Or maybe, this was their plan all along and they Jedi Mind-tricked me like crazy. They somehow knew that 25 years later their youngest son will have a realization that they did a pretty awesome job of exposing him to both cultures.

Now that I’ve thought that out loud, I’m just going to shut up and teach my daughter everything that I know about our Chinese culture – especially when it’s so much easier to do so now.

It’s not like back then when my folks needed to import Chinese laser disc movies from Hong Kong; or drive out three hours to Edmonton to buy asian animal crackers.

Now it’s as easy as turning on YouTube and choosing a catalogue of uploaded Chinese cartoons; or driving ten minutes to Walmart to pick up the same asian snacks my parents painfully went through to get for us back then.

I really don’t have any excuses not to teach her – I need to do it for her, and more importantly, I need to do it for my parents.

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Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 5.52.21 PM
GINBIS Animal Crackers were bomb.

 

Growing up in a small town, I wanted so much to be whitewashed and Canadianized. But as I grew older, I slowly became more appreciative of my Chinese culture. I hope as she grows up I’ll expose her enough to our culture and traditions. And maybe she’ll be able to appreciate what I’ve learned to appreciate. Happy New Year! A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on

Basketball Dadiaries: Week 1

Me: How old do you think those guys are?

Friend: I don’t know? Probably in their twenties?

Me: Damn, I feel old.

This was my friend and I –sitting in a pool of our collective sweat.

No, we didn’t run a marathon, nor did we complete a gruelling obstacle course.

We were simply taking a break from playing pick up basketball for 10-15 minutes tops.

As I looked onto the court, I could see an image of my past self staring back at me.

This was the 20 something year old version me, looking and ridiculing the two 30 something year old guys thinking, “Damn, I’d hate to be old and out of shape like those two over there.”

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A Dad’s Review of the Brica By-My-Side Safety Harness Backpack

This is a review of the Brica By-My-Side Infant Safety Harness Backpack. For disclosure purposes, Munchkin Canada sent me this backpack for review. You may purchase this backpack via the following link. This link was provided by Munchkin Canada, and I do not receive any commission or compensation if you purchase this from them.

A few months ago, Munchkin sent me the Stainless Steel Miracle Cup for review and the Brica By-My-Side backpack.

We were quickly able to use the Miracle cup, but it took a while for us to really get used to using the By-My-Side backpack.

You see, before 18 months my daughter would take direction well enough, she’ll listen to us if we asked her to stop or go.

I remember even thinking, “Wow this backpack is cool and all, but my daughter is such an angel that she doesn’t give us a hard time running all over the place — unlike those other wild children. Ha Ha Ha, sitting on my high-horse sure feels great!

Then, as the universe has it way of balancing things, the “on” switch flipped inside her head and told her that it’s okay to selectively listen to mom or dad–and run like heck.

It’s been two months since the green light went off and now I can finally give this backpack an honest review after seeing it put to the test.

Before I get into the details, as I do for all my reviews, here’s the TL:DR:

Get this backpack if you have a runner, but do consider the length of the tether if you are taller, or have short arms.

Now if you would like to stick around for a bit more detail, do feel free to read on, as I’ll give my full review of the Brica By-My-Side backpack below.

Continue reading “A Dad’s Review of the Brica By-My-Side Safety Harness Backpack”

Local Tourist: Wonton Chai Noodle 雲吞仔 – Strange Comfort Food

I don’t know where this post falls under, but I really wanted to talk about a restaurant that I’ve been going to for years.

Obviously, when eating in restaurants food comes first — but atmosphere is also very important.

The Atmosphere Just Makes Me Think of Hong Kong

Atmosphere can sometimes evoke different emotions, and memories. It may bring you back to places in time that you cannot trigger by simple memory.

The restaurant I am talking about is the Wonton Chai Noodle 雲吞仔 in Markham. It you don’t know what wonton’s are, they’re basically meat filled dumplings. But instead of pan fried or steamed, they’re boiled in broth.

Every time I go and eat there, it evokes memories of my birth place: Hong Kong.

What’s strange is I don’t know why it makes me feel this way, cause never in my youth did I stay in Hong Kong long enough warrant these feelings.

As I mentioned before, growing up, I was never quick to accept or embrace my heritage. It was only until having a daughter that I started to think about the impact her cultural would have on her.

This restaurant is not going to win a Michelin Star anytime soon, but for whatever reason it just puts me in a good place every time I eat there.

The obvious reason would be the food, as this place makes really delicious shrimp wontons and dace wontons. Along with extremely quick service — Hong Kong people are always in a hurry, so speed is expected. Once you order, the food comes before you have a chance to take few sips of the tea.

 

A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on


One thing that I’ve gravitated towards is the immediate mood when going to the restaurant. From the menus being under the glass table, to the Hong Kong radio station they place in the background, this restaurant just hits the right notes for me.

Now I am over 20 years removed from visiting Hong Kong, and it could be that nothing is authentic about this place, but that doesn’t really matter, because every time I step into this restaurant, I am just filled with strange but comforting vibes.

If you ever find yourself in Markham, look up this place (I also believe there’s a busier location in Scarborough as well).

I do not have any affiliation with this place, so it would seem a bit strange to write a food post about it, but I just felt like sharing something that gives me such joy and pleasure.

Do you have a comfort food restaurant that gives you inexplicable memories? If you do, it would be interesting to hear what place brings you to another place.

Let me know in the comments below or Tweet me your favourite and unlikely place!

To Worry Is To Be A Parent

“This is your first…isn’t it?”

 

These were the parting words the walk-in doctor said to my wife and I, as we were about to leave clinic with my sick daughter.

I don’t think he meant ill with his words –my wife even described his approach as “suave” (I think smug was more fitting) — but it did make me question where I stand as a parent.

 

Was it right to come here?

Are we just overreacting over a little Cold?

Should we not have taken her to the hospital the night before?

 

I really didn’t have a clue. Being only 19 months new into this parenting gig, this was the only way I knew how to be.

 

An over-worried parent.

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A Dad’s Review of #BabyLove: My Toddler Life

Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of Corine Dehghanpisheh’s #BabyLove: My Toddler Life for this review. The opinions expressed are solely mine and I have no affiliation with the author or her agency.

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From the moment she was born, I think my daughter sees my smartphone as the third parent.

When I used to feed her in my arms as a newborn, or rock her to sleep, my face would have a bright glow. This glow was not only from the pure joy and happiness of being a proud dad, but a literal glow and reflection of the light from my phone screen.

Admittedly, we are on our devices way too much, but the sad/scary thing is even knowing this, we don’t put in as much effort as we should in avoiding it.

The things they learn just by copying us
At 19 months my daughter somehow figured how to put everything by her ear and pretend that it’s a phone. It cute for sure, but it also says alot about where she’s getting these ideas from.

So when a rep from author Corine Dehghanpisheh’s #BabyLove: My Toddler Life book reached out to me to do a review about this very topic, I was immediately intrigued.

I don’t normally do storybook reviews – unless they are filled with unintentional (or intentional?) humour like the Mr. Tickle book. But with this one I thought I would make an exception, since it touches upon this particular topic.

Like all my reviews here’s a TL:DR

Continue reading “A Dad’s Review of #BabyLove: My Toddler Life”