What life is like being a parent to a 15yr old in your late twenties — pt.1

It’s that time of the year again where I throw my annual Game of Thrones viewing party.  I am quite bummed this year because I normally have a REALLY well thought out menu like weeks in advance. However, with the 15 year old living with me this year for the past 8 months, life has NOT been easy and it’s been a pain in the ass quite frankly.  To explain this phenomenon also known as the Chinese Relative Guilt, I have a 15 year old living with me who is from China, he is my cousin from my mom’s side, and I am his legal guardian/parent while he attends high school and college here.  Was this my choice? Absolutely not.  Who sold my uncle and aunt the idea of shipping their kid here for me to take care while they stay in China? My mother of course, who is ever so enthusiastically campaigning for our entire extended family to move to the United States, particularly California, especially Sacramento, and if the real estate market is favorable and has the supply, definitely buy a house within our gated community. Preferably not on the other side of this circular gate, but within 50 paces. Is my mother here to help me since she was the one who brazenly volunteered me (and my poor boyfriend) the parental duties of a teenager? Nope.  My mom is actually in China at the moment.  And even when she was here, she rarely picked him up from school and never came home until it was the wee hours of the morning. My mother parties with her friends like a twenty something year old would five nights out of the week, and instead of beer pong, they play mahjong instead.  Were my feelings or willingness to take up the task ever questioned or even considered? In true old school Communist fashion, individual opinions doesn’t matter.  The Collective (as in the extended family network of uncles, aunts and what not) has already decided it for me.

Quite frankly, it was the Chinese Relative Guilt that’s what got me into this mess really.  I am too patriotic — as the 15yr old calls it.  I have neither the courage nor the heart to say no to anyone who is in my family because one simply does not question the decision made for you by your elders.  Why not? Some call it filial piety, I call it being a pushover nice person.  Especially if that person was your mom, and she is the matriarch of the entire extended family. For example, when they collectively decided that my old commuter car was too crappy and I didn’t needed a new car, I should buy a new one that gets the best mpg in the market because who knows, I might also have to drive their kid around.  At the end of the day, I do have an option — I can tell them I can’t do this anymore and I want to send their child to Homestay instead, and say fuck it all, but that would just mean I am weak and lazy, and I HATE being associated with the word or thought of being lazy.

However, as you can see in an earlier Instagram post, my faith was sealed the moment the carpool sticker arrived and I was happier than a fat kid at a buffet.

Sleep, what’s that? Staying out late? What’s that?

Moreover, my poor boyfriend is also caught in the web of constant chauffeuring with no end in sight. Have our lives changed? Absolutely.  We attend swim meets instead of going on date nights now. I stay home to cook for a horde famished hyenas (really it’s just 3 people in the house but the 15yr old somehow manages to put away more food than I can keep up cooking) and we don’t go out for fancy dinners anymore.  In fact, I haven’t been to one of those in about 7 months.  I have neither the financial ability nor the patience to take a 15yr old to anywhere that doesn’t serve it all-you-can-eat style.  It is true that all he really needs to survive are some Hot Pockets and steady WiFi, but he isn’t the most difficult nor the easiest teenager to live with.  In fact, he makes it his mission to badger us everyday every other day whether if we have some form of entertainment planned in the upcoming weekend for him. Most of the time, I just laugh at his face and ignore his entitled ass and tell him to go clean the toilets if he wants his ridiculous $80 monthly allowance.  He does clean all of the toilets in the house and he does an okay job on the bowl and the sink, but don’t count on him to get on the floor and wipe the piss off the ground.  I still have to do the mopping.  When I was his age, I’d be lucky if I get $20 bucks from my mom in a year.  But hey, with the inflation and the manual labor that he is somewhat contributing, it’s not that bad I suppose.

Especially when I get to “deduct” random amounts from him whenever he pisses me off or commits an act of stupidity.

This is Andy, the 15yr old at his first American dance, the Homecoming

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Here's Andy, my cousin who is here as international student, and I am also his legal guardian. I went with him to buy his dress shirt and sports coat, told him that when it's time to take a girl out for a formal dance, he has to take her wherever she wants to go, pay for the dinner, photos, provide transportation, and get her a corsage. He did most of it correct except for the last part. He told me that she didn't need a corsage so I didn't have to worry about it (so I didn't). 30mins before the dance, he frantically texts me while I was at the grocery store that he didn't know he was suppose to get her a corsage. Good thing I have made it before for my own dances in the past, so I grabbed some bouquets and made his date a bracelet corsage. Turns out she liked it a lot, and my entourage (3 friends visiting from out of town + Tyler) and I tagged along for an impromptu dinner at the same restaurant he and his date were dinning at. I tried my best to embarrass him, by sneaking behind their table multiple times to take paparazzi style photos. Turns out he and his friends didn't find me embarrassing at all… Because as soon as I pull the phone to take photos of them, all the kids in the group date were like owwwww is that an iPhone 6+? Moral of the story is, you can't be embarrassing when they think you're cool.

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During the winter holidays, my extended family members enjoy tormenting me by shipping all of their Chinese offsprings to my home refugee camp for a week or so of pure torture American holiday experience. 

More will come to me later, but this is my rant for now.

Lessons in love

One of the things I have learned from being in relationships is that you learn not just how to be in a relationship, but you also learn a lot about yourself. Being in different relationships however, has taught me many lessons in life that I would have probably not learned about myself if I had been single. Each serious boyfriend I’ve ever had, has taught me tremendous lessons in life and helped my path to self discovery.

When I was younger, like most girls, I’ve always had a set of list that my potential boyfriend must qualify in order for me to date him. I remember making that list in high school, with most of my friends thinking how crazy I must be coming up with crazy shit like that, but deep inside, unlike most people who have a mental list in their mind, I had it listed out on an online journal (remember, I use to blog before blogging was even a term – this was between 1999-2001). I knew I was setting the bar high, but why not I thought to myself — I deserved it.

Like everything with time, expectations change, and as you grow and evolve to become an adult, a lot of the things that I had listed as a requirement when I was 15 had become superfluous, while other qualities illuminate as “must-haves”. But when you fall in love with a person, those items on the list becomes trivial – sometimes I even bend the rules a little bit to fit the bill. To be honest, most of the guys whom I have dated probably doesn’t even come close in passing half of the requirements on that list. If I could do a chart base on the different grades I would give to all of my ex-boyfriends and dudes I’ve dated, you would probably see a very inconsistent line that resembles a roller coaster ride. Let’s just say that base on my dating history, I went from having really high standards, to no standards, and finally to some standards. Do I still have that list or follow it? Of course not, but come to think of it, I still might have it stashed somewhere in a harddrive in the garage…

When you become intimate with another person, you don’t just learn about who they are, what they’re really like, you also learn how to be with that person. When you’re in love, there is no other feeling like it – the bliss, excitement, and rush of blood, and so on. But when it all comes to an end, there’s no pain like a sinking heart break. I am sure there are boundless literature and books out there that talks about the benefits of being in a relationship and how to deal after a breakup, but what I think I’ve learned the most from all of my relationships is that every day is a challenge to not only become a better person, but also a discovering of one’s innerself. Going back to lessons learn from the different people you become close with, I think it’s best if I just list it. For the purpose of this post, I will only reference the lessons I’ve learned from serious serious relationships.

The First:

No one will ever forget their first love. My first love changed me, and I didn’t know what being in love was like, until I saw myself changing before my eyes – and that’s a good thing. My first love was a boy who was a bit older than me and lived very far away. The idea of being with him was more fun than actually being with him to be honest. But being in love for the first time, for some reason, made me a much nicer person. I was friendlier, happier, and less stuck up – coincidentally, this is the same time I abandoned my list. I was so happy and stupid in love that I didn’t even care anymore about any “standards” I had previously lucidly concocted – and that’s a bad thing in hindsight. Even though it was brief, it left a lasting impression. Needless to say, I still have a lot to learn about love. My lesson from this boy however, was that some men are more cowardly than others. This one, well, he didn’t have the balls to breakup with me, so instead of breaking up with me, he just ignored me instead. So after a few weeks of constantly trying to find out what was going on and why he wasn’t returning my emails or call, I finally got the hint. But seriously, not even a word and just dropped off the radar? What a coward. Moral of the story: you have standards the first place, don’t let love blind you. They’re call “standards” for a reason.

The Dreamer (aka the Loser):

This was the boy that I was in and out of a relationship with over a span of 5 years. When you’re in your late teens and early 20s, 5 years is a long time to waste. However, of all of the ex BFs, I have to admit that he was the nicest to me. When I was ill and bed-ridden for a week, he didn’t left my sight and tended to me around the clock. Deep inside, he was a wonderful and kind person; however, his behavior and actions were the exact opposite. He was the liar, thief, con-artist, two-timing loser and shameless manipulator. With that being sad, what I learned from him is that you should never trust someone whole heartedly if you have a gut feeling deep inside, knowing that something isn’t right, and get the fuck out of that relationship the moment something is wrong. Some of the crazy stupid shit I’ve done while I was in a relationship with this guy made me realize how lucky I am to be alive today. Of course I didn’t learn my lesson of keeping the standards. Initially, the boy had potential, but when he started to downward spiral, I should’ve known better than to stick around. The lesson I learned was that, don’t ever go back to your ex because you still have feelings for that person, and hoping for the 30th time that you’ve broken up, that maybe this time, he will finally change for you. Truth is, he will never change. Moral of the story: It’s easier to move a mountain than to change a person’s character (Chinese proverb).

The Thinker:

Of all of the relationships, this was the one that opened my eyes about a lot of things. The Thinker was a brilliant young man with a lot of potential. However, potential is useless if you have no ambition or perseverance to harvest it. Intellectually, I had the best time with The Thinker. We were always exchanging thoughts and ideas, and was always challenged to think outside of the box. Not many people can make me do that – and he did, frequently. Good thing about being with someone as brilliant as he (he was clinically diagnosed as a genius) is that you learn to have new perspectives. With The Thinker, I learned to become more tolerant, learn to respect, and see things from others eyes. I can’t say enough good things about The Thinker because he opened my mind about a lot of things, but sometimes he enjoys analyzing things so much, and a lot of times even over-analyzing things, made it cumbersome to be around. In fact, intimately, things were going downhill. When that’s all he wanted to do – to analyze a situation, a thing, a person, etc., it gets tiring, mentally draining, and you lose focus on the simple things in life that made relationships important. In fact, he got so comfortable with me as a companion and friend, than a girlfriend, I eventually fell out of love. At the end of the relationship, we were both in two different stages in our life. I was ready to take the next step, he wasn’t. He still wanted to be a kid. I remember our fights use to be volatile because we were both stubborn, opinionated, and unforgiving at times. I’ve never been called out so many times during our fights where I thought I could bs my way through a fight (being a girl, you bs a lot in fights to get your way). Maybe because I reminded him too much of his own mother, and maybe if certain situations had been different, he could have easily been the one. Moral of the story: A successful relationship should be a well-rounded one, just because the other person is a great person, doesn’t mean he or she is the right person for you. If something is missing, and you feel that there’s a void there that you just can’t fill, get out.

The NYSX:

The reason I call this one the New York Stock Exchange because being with him was like a day at the stock market. You never know what’s going to happen. Somedays are great, somedays are terrible, and somedays you’re just barely getting by without losing it all. The NYSX and I have always had a thing for each other for a long time. When we first met, we instantly connected. In my mind, The NYSX was this glorious, unattainable, forbidden love that I like to fantasize about in my “what-if” situation thoughts. When we first met, we thought nothing serious could ever happen between the two of us because of the distance (we met when we were in our late teens, early 20s), so it all started with some shameless flirting when we were younger. Fast forward many years later, once we were reconnected thanks to mutual friends, we couldn’t help but give it a try – I mean come on, we’re adults now, we can do whatever we want! The NYSX taught me that to be with someone, you need to have patience, tolerance, courtesy, and don’t just hear the words your significant other is saying, you have to listen. Unlike The Thinker, The NYSX was a very giving and selfless lover. Some of our best times together were those very tender intimate moments. We made the most of our time together. We were so serious, that we even considered marriage. Maybe we were wiser when we were younger – knowing that it wouldn’t work the first place because of the distance – and ultimately, this was what broke us appart – the distance. That feeling of falling out of love had happened to me right before my eyes. As things took a turn for the worse with things not working out the way we had planned it (work, school, relocation etc), we knew the odds were against us. I always thought to myself, if we hadn’t actually try to have a relationship, The NYSX would have stayed beautiful, flawless and untarnished forever in my mind – something that I could no longer dream about. Now that we’ve experienced what it’s like to be together and get real serious, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly side that I never expected to see. Moral of the story: No matter how hard you try, if it’s not ment to be, it’s not meant to be.

I hope you enjoyed my stories, let me know what you think!