As much as I don’t like spending my weekends in the Davis/Sacramento area, it happens to be a good home base, since it’s pretty centrally located. The bay area is a little over an hour away and the mountain playgrounds of Tahoe are a little over two hours in the other direction. This past weekend was long enough that I was able to see the ocean in SF and the snow capped mountains near Tahoe in one weekend. That’s pretty awesome. But thinking about my weekend makes me realize that the little lessons I learned were even more awesome.
One of my good friends from college, Chris, had a baby a little over a year ago. He lives and works on the east coast, but whenever he’s in town, if our schedules work out I try to visit him and his baby son. It ends up that I always end up with some lessons on parenting, even though I’m nowhere near that stage of life. Last time he was in town he gave me a lesson on diaper changing, even though I didn’t really want to learn. This time I learned some terminology.
The term I learned was “waddler.” Apparently it’s the stage before toddler. Little Sammy, his son, is at the stage where he’s starting to walk, but it’s still more of a waddle than a smooth walk. I guess that means technically I’m still a waddler since my walk is more of a waddle than a smooth walk. I hope I can grow into the toddler stage soon then.
The second thing I learned is that if a waddler waddles up to you with a big grin on his face and then points to his crotch, it’s time for a diaper change. So I learned the correct course of action for me in this situation is to scoop him up, waddle over to his parents and let them do the diaper change.
Even though little Sammy doesn’t talk, he communicates through his facial expression what he’s thinking. We took him to the children’s park in Golden Gate park. When he rode on the merry-go-round, you could see the terror in his eyes as he clenched his fists and held on for dear life. When he rode down the slide, you could see the expression of pure joy on his face. I’m not really sure what lesson I learned from this, other than that kids are a joy to be around because there is no hidden meaning, their face pretty much tells it all.
The next day in SF I hung out with my old high school friends. A lot of times when I’m back we go and take pictures around the city. I wanted a cool picture of the Golden Gate Bridge to use as my desktop wallpaper. We started out on a sunny afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts, but by the time we got to the Golden Gate Bridge it was pretty foggy. So I guess the lesson I learned is that conditions change fast, the perfect picture often comes down to luck or serendipity.
I came back to Davis on Sunday, and after a short nap drove up to Reno with Gid and Jim. I learned a little lesson on demographics. Any buffet that serves seafood will be packed with Asians. Any buffet that’s a little cheaper than the norm will be packed with Mexicans. I’m not trying to be racist, it’s just my observation…
We spent Monday on the slopes at Mount Rose. I learned two good lessons. The first is to follow the sun in the morning. The slopes that are least icy are the ones that are softened up by the sun shining down on them. The other lesson I learned is to keep my equipment well maintained. On the icy slopes you need to have sharp edges to maintain traction. In the powder you need to have a smooth base, so your skis need to be waxed regularly. Luckily my skis are pretty new, so I didn’t really run into much problems, but I watched and laughed as Jim slipped on the ice and took out two other people below him. I also watched Gid hit the ice hard on one of our first runs, so I learned to take it slow most of the day.
Another lesson I learned from Jim was how to crack a lobster. On our way back from Mount Rose we decided to hit up the lobster buffet at Boomtown. Under Jim’s tutelage I got pretty adept at lobster cracking– I ended up cracking open and eating seven of them. From this I learned another lesson. If you try to get your money’s worth in lobster, you will end up paying in other ways. I ended up not feeling too hot and I’m still recovering today. I spent a lot of this morning on the toilet.
Anyways going back to the lessons on parenting– The article about “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” seems to be getting a lot of press these days. I thought about that article while sitting on the ski lift yesterday. I happened to be sitting next to two kids, they couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. They were white. What surprised me about these kids was their communication skills. They were actually having a conversation through which they talked about everything from life, to school, to the weather and ski conditions. Their conversation skills put me to shame.
I found that I couldn’t think of that many Asian people that had really good conversation skills. So that got me thinking about the whole Chinese (or should I say Asian, since I’m not Chinese) parenting thing. Good grades and musical aptitude are all well and good, but they seem to come at the cost of social skills and life experience. Of those two, I think life experience is more important. If you really tried, you could probably learn how to be a good conversationalist. (I haven’t, so of course my social skills are terrible.) But I don’t care how incredible a conversationalist you are, there’s just no way to make the three hours you spent in your room studying or practicing violin or piano or guitar an interesting conversation for more than a few minutes.
I think I’m right on this, but I would love to be proven wrong. So if you happen to be a cute Asian girl, I will buy you lunch or dinner if you think you can hold an interesting conversation about your childhood music lessons.