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Ahn-yeong something something

I was four years old the year I discovered there was no Santa Claus. It was Christmas Eve and my parents were in their bedroom. One of my cousins opened the door and I saw with my own eyes what was going on in the room: there they were, my parents, sitting on the bed wrapping Christmas presents from “Santa”. That night, not only did I find out who the REAL Santa was (my parents), I also found out that not everything grown-ups tell children is the honest truth.
When I was a kid my father told me he found me in a garbage can in Korea. He said he fished me out and took me home to live with him and my mom. I don’t know why he told me this but my guess is he must’ve thought it would be a riot to watch my face twist in confusion as I processed the news and then crumple to the floor in a heap of tears and denial.
“But I don’t waaant to be Korean!” I wailed in helpless misery. Not that I had anything against Koreans. I just didn’t know anything about Korea at the time except that kim chee was korean and I really, really, disliked kim chee.
My dad hugged me and pretended to soothe me. “It’s OK! Hey, don’t worry! I love you even though you’re Korean. You’re my Korean girl!” Then he laughed and laughed like it was the funniest thing. I often wonder if my dad was stoned out of his mind at the time. After all, it was the 70’s and we lived in San Francisco. Honestly, can you think of a BETTER EXPLANATION?
Another time I can remember being lied to by an adult was while I was getting my forehead stitched in the emergency ward of St. Luke’s Hospital. To make a long story short: I had accidentally stuck my head (deep) with a kitchen knife and required stitches right above my right eye. I was lying on a gurney and I started to fidget and whimper because I couldn’t see my mother anywhere near. A nurse leaned over me and said very calmly, “If you don’t keep still you’ll never see your mother again.” I immediately transformed myself into a piece of petrified wood until the stitching was over.
Over the years I eventually came to terms with and have accepted that I am a displaced, adopted Korean (but I still don’t care for kim chee). And now that I am an adult, I realize that however wrong she was, that nurse was just doing what she thought was necessary in order to get me to pipe down and be still.
May she rot in purgatory.

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13 Responses

  1. Brian J Que says:

    Now now Josie. Have you ever tried putting stitches on a wailing kid who could not keep still? IT’S HARD with a capital H. Sometimes I wish we could just give them general anesthesia to make my job easier. Some nurses though are much better at caliming kids down.. they’re gentle and tend to make the kids relax… those are the ones I like.
    My mom used to always joke to me that my “real mom” was in Switzerland. I was only 5 and I had no idea WTF Switzerland was. I thought it was like Disneyland or something and so I asked my “fake mom” to send me there. She stopped saying that joke after that.

  2. inna says:

    when i was a kid, i used to ask my dad where he got my name- he would say ‘found it written in a crumpled paper in the trash’. so i never really thought my name was special until i got older.

  3. Brother says:

    HAHAHAHA!!! I remember you and Bessie used to tease me that mom found me in a trash can.

  4. Josie says:

    I’d forgotten about that! LOL
    Was it a trash can in KOREA? haha!

  5. Haji says:

    Nae, ahn-yeong hah-say-yo!
    First, Josie, there are no trash cans in Korea. Really! (I was just searching for a link to a recent news article about it, but Google failed me…go here and page down to the topic labeled “Other Stuff: Curious Habits of Seoul Subway”–suffice to say, there is no tax or bills that are charged from trash collectors in Korea: you have to go to your local mini-mart and purchase special trash collection bags—about $2 for a 20 gallon bag—and that revenue pays for trash collection)
    Thus, you were not found in a trash can!!
    Next, it takes around 6 months to ‘get used to’ kimchee, but once you get there, it is extremely similar to coffee or nicotine, in that if you travel away from Korea, and don’t have access to kimchee, you begin to have withdrawal symptoms (real or imaginary, who knows?!) and crave it enormously at every meal. On top of that, and in support of the addictive qualities, the Korean red spicy hot peppers seem to give one a mild high. I don’t believe there is any research to support this, but by gum, I feel it if I eat kimchee on an empty stomach!
    Finally, sorry about Santa. I have two sons, 5 and 3, and they are still concerned that Santa is watching (“he knows when you’re sleeping”….and it’s February now…). Of course, they are pretty well behaved knowing this. But at what point should the truth be known? For the sake of our 3-year old, shouldn’t we wait another year? But, that means the 5-year-old should continue to be out-of-the-loop for another year, for if he knows/figures it out, he will certainly spill the beans… (And yes, we live in a situation where the 5-year-old could have the magic carried on for another year: I’m talking here about two boys who nearly peed their pants due to joy and giddiness when I asked them if they wanted chocolate milk with their subway sandwiches last time we were in the states!).
    So, yes Josie, there is a Santa,
    and go ahead and say no to kimchee;
    and the next time you see a Korean tourist, ask about trash cans!

  6. min says:

    ya, i dont really get what’s so funny about telling your kid that they were found somewhere else… my mom used to tell me she found me under a bridge, maybe our reaction gives them some type of relief that we love and appreciate them.. i guess we wont understand until we become parents ourselves.

  7. Haji says:

    –perhaps to aviod uncomfortable questions like “where do babies come from” and “how’d the baby get inside you.”

  8. Jessica says:

    I tell Celia everyday that she’s my sister. I’m practicing for that time that when we will be hitting the bars together 😉
    She knows there isn’t a real Santa Claus…probably because all her presents get tagged FROM: MOM. I work way too hard to buy her presents for someone else to be getting all the credit.
    I don’t really lie to my daughter but sometimes I do laps around her questions with no real answers…is that ‘avoidance’? The biggest question that she’s been asking me lately…Where did GOD come from? Not babies, which would be SOOOOOOOO much easier to explain…but the almighty GOD! If someone has an answer for that…I’m all ears.

  9. Josie says:

    That’s easy.
    God came from Korea and that’s why there are no trashcans there.

  10. fabmimi says:

    My son is 9 and endlessly filled with questions but fooling him won’t cut and I really try to tell him the truth and leave out information that he is not ready for. I give him Santa gifts as long as he believes in Santa and when he asked me if he’s real, I told him only to people that believe in him. He did ask me where he/babies come from and I told him from my stomach. Once he asked me what sex is but he saw it on a form that wanted to inidicate male or female so I told him what male and female meant. When I restrict him from watching rated R stuff, I just tell him because it has severe violence or naked people and he’s not old enough. So far I haven’ hit a wall with him yet…we’ll see how far I could stay safe! I had him when I was 17 so my perspective about restriction and white lies that my parents used on me has been proven ineffective. LOL

  11. disneymike says:

    How interesting! I am half Korean and my mother told me a story about being found under the Golden Gate Bridge as a baby. Inspired by this post, I wrote an entry on my blog about it. 😉

  12. sahr says:

    believe it or not, Josie, i too needed stitches over my right eye in an injury
    that happened in my youth. ‘cept mine was caused by a metal swing crashing into my forehead at the pre k playground.

  13. Haji says:

    To: Jessica,
    I tell my all-most 6-year old that God is Nature
    This answer comes from my own soul-searching since high school, though to today, and I really believe in this. A cousin of mine, who was recently ordained as a Catholic priest, differs only slightly in his opinion from mine (his take is that God created nature, thus God is super-nature…) I get bombarded with questions from my sons, especially at prayer time at bed time. I believe that as long as you are fair minded (as subjective as that sounds…) teach from your gut, and be brave! Your offspring will form their own opinions later (teen-age-years), based on their gut feelings (whether those gut feelings are from environmental factors or from genetic factors, or from a mix of the two…only God knows!)
    So, Jessica, tell your little one God is everything. Also, turn the tables on your little one and ask her her own opinions.
    Ask her where she thinks stuff comes from.
    Socrates had a thing for answering a question with a question: do this with your kids!
    “Why did God make water, mommy?”
    “Well, why do you think God made water?”
    “I don’t know; but maybe so the fish can swim.”
    “Maybe so.”
    (And you can be creative yourself, and add something like…)
    “…don’t you think the sunset looks so much better when there is water under the setting sun….” or; “isn’t it nice to drink water sometimes…” or; “water can put our a fire” or; “water makes clouds and rainbows.”
    If you have a belief or a faith in (a) god, then you know that it must/may/could/maybe be His plan for your son/daughter to have the answers to his/her own theological questions already formed or shortly-after or even before birth… There is tons of philosophical and theological support for all of this, stuff that even parallels physics and quantum mechanics: just look it up! (Try googling James Hersh; Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell)
    All the best, Jessica!!

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