Monday, September 20, 2004

Taking care of your own needs


ometimes I get so frustrated. I don't mean to put my frustrations on anyone specifically. God knows that I am not the perfect human being. Indeed, I am far from it. *shudder* So I don't mean to single out my stepson. I suppose he is a reflection of many of today's youth, those who live and reach adulthood in a world where becoming independent is increaingly difficult. School tuition is exhorbitant. Housing is outrageous. Jobs are hard to come by.

And yet, I hope that most of the young people today at least try to become independent. My stepson at least tried--I'll give him that--although it ended up costing me to help bail him out of his situation.

Anyway, I am, as many of you know, a third generation Japanese American. But in many ways, I am second generation. My mother was from Japan, and my father was born in Idaho but raised in Japan, making him officially a nisei but for all intents and purposes, an issei. I'm not sure if being Japanese has anything to do with it--the Japanese, as with many East Asian cultures, traditionally do not frown on the large nuclear family where it is not unusual to see three generations living under one roof--but my parents, God love 'em, always told me that there was no need for me to leave the house.

So I sandbagged it for a long time, and lived at home for quite a while rent free... until I was 27-28? Geez, it's embarrassing to admit this now, but it didn't seem so bad back then. I worked part-time and full-time during various stretches of my youth, so I usually took care of my own needs. I always ate out, I paid for college or got scholarships. I bought my own car--from my mother--and of course paid for gas and insurance. Certainly, no one paid for my immediate needs since I was 16--soap, shampoo, toothpaste, underwear. I always did my laundry at a nearby coin laundry. I had no medical insurance, so I took care of my medical and dental bills out of pocket. So except for rent, I took care of myself, although rent is a pretty big expense that many of my friends were paying... Oh well, I guess I don't have that much on my stepson. I, too, am the product of parents who coddled me by allowing me to stay home.

But--and you knew there was a "but" coming--I also did my own work. Perhaps this was done out of necessity. My parents were de facto issei, and so could never fill out a college application form, write a statement of purpose, or complete my 1040 tax returns. I never thought of asking them for their help. And it forced me to read carefully, write precisely and act on my own initiative to complete those things that I wanted and needed to do. I even remember filling out my applicaiton to a private high school when I was 14, and proofreading with an old, worn-out Webster's dictionary. So it bothers me to see someone who is seemingly unmotivated, who will fill out an application only when told to, who cannot look into the things he needs to know and do--visas, photos, medical requirements--on his own. Of course, I suspect he wants to do it; he just doesn't know that he has to, or how to, because he has never had to. Mommy has always done it for him.

Okay, this is the end of my ranting. He goes back to Japan next week, hopefully to interview successfully to get his F-1 visa. He will be staying with his relatives for the next couple of months as he waits for his visa; so yesterday, I was out shopping for gifts for him to take back... while he remained at home, sleeping in his room past noon...

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