We Investigate: Daily Show Edition

Somehow the folks at The Daily Show heard about our latest investigation on the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program. Here's our original report:

Here's Jon Stewart's version. His had a couple more f-bombs. Scroll ahead to 6:25 if you want to see our part. 




Memo to Dessy: 35 Months


You're almost 3. In 4T clothes with a sassafrass 'tude that's equal parts vinegar and sweet. You are the umami of toddlers. Like a spicy Cheetoh. I have to keep snacking on you because if I stop, the burn sets in. You are relentless in your independence but you're also a snugglebug. Mostly with Daddy. I feel like I went through this same thing with Emmy but she wasn't quite as obstinate. You are both your daddy's girls at this age. He's understandably way more jungle-gymmy and fun and doesn't care quite as much when you wipe a ketchup mustache onto his pants. Mommy's also not as strong or tall or long armed Gumby, so I don't hold it against you.

However. You are just a little dragon baby at times.

Me: "Odessa, let's go brush your teeth."

You: "Uh uh."

Me: "Time to take a bath."

You: "Uh uh."

Me: "Odessa."

You: "Uh uh."

You're so funny though that it's just impossible to actually get mad. I have to just stifle my laughter and joy to pretend to teach you some sort of lesson. Mostly you've taught me to be a master distracter. "Oh I know! We're going to read the new library book for bedtime afteryoujustocmeoverhereandlet'sgopottyrealquickandletmeflossyourteethwhileyou'resitting


I am kind of proud of that new skill I've learned. Somehow I need to find a real world application for it. You and Emmy are suddenly mostly BFFs. That is thoroughly, thoroughly, easily one of my favorite milestones as a parent. To hear the two of you chattering and playing and Emmy explaining things and you asking why 17 times until she stops explaining or says "Because, Odessa, I already told you why." It's the most innocent, sweet interaction between two small human beings and I look for any chance I can eavesdrop while holding my breath and waiting to see what each of you says and does next. It is parenting nirvana for me.

(Thanks to Jay Tsai for great family pics.)


Emmy: "You listen to the big sister."

Odessa: "You listen to the little sister."
Emmy: "Big sisters teach the little sisters, OK?"
Odessa: ... (processing)


Maybe because I was an only child and don't remember anything about friendships and discovery at this age? Sibling interaction this pure is intoxicating. 

Some of your favorite phrases right now: "Nevah myyyynnd." It's a variation of nevermind that I have no idea where you heard it. Like you're literally from Odessa, Texas and you stepped into the barn after wrangling some mustangs when you say it with such a long drawl.
Meantime, we try to keep it a little #freshofftheboat with your Santa visit.
And you know how some dudes people are always walking around in bars quoting random movie lines and asking if you've ever seen that film? You are that dude in the form of a little tyke who quotes from your books. At first I thought you were being totally out of pocket when you would just say "Don't ask me any questions." Completely unprovoked. "Don't ask me annnnnny questions." I mean, that's just so rude!
Then I realized, after weeks of thinking I've raised such an inconsiderate and discourteous 2 year old, that you're quoting from "I Want My Hat Back," an awesome book White Grandma gave you. One of your favorites. And the line, for the record, is "Don't ask me any more questions." But that's OK. I sing the wrong words to songs all the time. Like my current fave, "Blank Space." Call all my Starbucks lovers, they'll tell you I'm insane!
Wait, that's not the line?
Someone is seriously starting a slight princess complex. We never had that with Emmy. In fact, you guys are about 2 years behind in finally seeing Frozen. Of course, you're now in love with Princess Elsa. I don't know. I don't want to be all Tiger Mom about it, and I guess I can't now, not after Asian Grandma and Grandpa gave you ELEVEN Disney princesses took three Asian immigrants two pairs of scissors and 27 minutes to free from the gigantic box.

I just love you so much and you're so talkative and bright and spicy and tough. Like I never worry about you. You just have this "I got this" attitude and it's so hard to put into words but it's endearing and prompts endless head shaking from me. I just want you to like me and you make me work so hard for it. You LOVE your grandmas. You are just enamored with both of them. As you should be. It's like you're the neighbor's little dog that barks and tries to bite me but you're so, so cute like the $120 million Grumpy Cat and finally when I win you over it's so worth it to get the hug and have you say, "I love you too Mommy." Or when you grab me around the neck and give me that wet smackaroo on the cheek.
You're so unexpected and unpredictable and we're all addicted.

Love you,



Memo to Emmy: 66 Months

Goodness Girlfriend,

You are 5.5 already? Solid 30 plus days as an official kindergartener and wow you're a legit big girl. I have the same worries as the other Silicon Valley Tiger Parents. Are you being challenged? Have you learned the Theory of Relativity yet? Why don't you eat your whole lunch because studies show nourishment improves learning?

And yet I also have this odd peace about the fact you're Doing It. You're in kindergarten and you're learning how to be a person on your own, how to open your container at snack time, how to make friends and read them fairy books at recess, how to play tag, how to figure out what it means to be out of the watchful eye of your mom, dad, or Asian Grandma for several hours a day. Those are all Major Things.

You had a big first day. Your teacher noticed you were reading aloud to yourself and asked you to come and read her note to the whole class. Public speaking on day one and you nailed it! 

So far, so good. You told us a kid was pointing a pencil at you and shooting it like a gun. To which you said, "Stop that, please." And he did. So, that's a relief. I mean, that's the craziest thing about growing up. I'm not everywhere at all times with you. I can't tell people to not be jerks and to make sure you get a spot in line and that you're treated fairly and nicely and that you get all the best things the world has to offer. That's really annoying. I want to be a hovercraft and ensure you never get knocked down or stuck in the bad seat on the bus.

But that's not possible. You have to experience the ups and downs of life to distinguish between them and to develop a strong character and to learn what's worth working hard for and what matters to you. I can't be the boss of you and the protector of you forever. Kindergarten is like the first teensiest tiniest step toward that. And I can't say I love it. Because I want to freeze you at every stage in life. It all goes by so lightning quickly.

You're already growing your two bottom front teeth but your stubborn baby teeth are hanging on for dear life so it's shark week in your mouth. You're an awesome artist and apparently that's what you want to be when you grow up according to the "Special Person of the Week" poster you had to fill out for homework. Every Tiger Mom's worst nightmare, an artist. 

You're writing in full sentences and you're reading at a crazy level. You always want to pick chapter books to read to me at night and you don't even mind when I'm a bad mommy and I read my People magazine while you're pounding through your heavy duty stories. 

It's your spirit. So easygoing and fun. Even-keeled and pleasant. The only time you really lose your S is when your sister tries to horn in on some exclusive thing you're doing--drawing, reading with Mommy, watching The Littlest Pet Shop (which you've convinced her is "very scary" so she leaves the room when you're watching.) I can't say I blame you. She's a total Ruiner. A Gleeful Unabashed Ruiner. A GUR. She's the embodiment of a pesky little sister at times and she relishes it. You have a bit of an edge that's coming out--you'll get in an elbow here or there, which is not the worst thing in the world because I want to see that you have some defense mechanisms and I also want Odessa to know she can't always get away with felony pestering.

I secretly love that you're a lefty and that you're so different from me. You're so intuitive and sensitive and empathetic. Your EQ is definitely higher than mine. You're patient and sweet, but sometimes really shy about certain things. Like you don't want to sing in class. Other kids are singing random songs like "Timber" when the teacher asks if anyone wants to sing a song, but for some reason you're anti. "I don't want to do it. I like dancing better than singing." I just don't know exactly why you're super outgoing sometimes and other times, you are deadset against something. 

One of your preschool teachers called you "tender" and that's something we worried about when you headed off into big kindergarten with 26 other kids in your class. But turns out, you're thriving. You have your backpack and your assignments and when I volunteer in class you seem like you're holding your own. That's all I can ask for--that you do you and so far Emerson, you're totally doing it.

I love you my Big Girl. 


Memo to Dessy: 31 Months


Or more like OH-DESSY!

You're already 2 and a half and a month! You're wearing 3T and sometimes 4T clothing. You're a giantess. You're taller than almost everyone in your class except for a couple super giant kids, one of whom has a dad who is 6' 10." Sorry Odessa. Mommy had to stop somewhere.

Yes, school. You had your first day of preschool and you transferred about 87 My Little Ponies from a basket to a table, squished some homemade Play-Doh, tricycled around like a champ, and called it a day. Next up, actually dropping you off and leaving. Your classroom teachers are prepared for a bunch of cryers; they even have extra grown ups designated as "huggers" to patrol and comfort those of you who have only ever been left in the company of your parents and grandparents. You're gonna need a hugger for sure. 

You are quite...verbal. Talkative. Chatty. NONSTOP TALKER. I have no idea where you get it from. Me? No way.   You really like to narrate everything you're doing. "I eating banana." "I drawing." And you want us to always "Look Mommy LOOK!"

You've developed such a knack for repeating anything and everything that you shouldn't. We're not terribly foul-mouthed around you but even the slightest biting remark or inapproprate verbiage that slips out is immediately adopted and spit back out. You're a taunter. A two year old taunter. You hear us telling Emmy to calm down and next thing we hear is, "Just relax Emmy. Just relax." So uppity for a little sister.

You don't seem to see yourself that way though. When Emmy excitedly yelled about wanting pasta for dinner, this was your response: "You can't have pasta Emmy." Emmy: "?" You: "I eat your pasta. I eat it. I EAT IT." Followed by your chuckling at your own joke.

I don't know how or why but you have a wicked sense of humor for a toddler. Poop-based jokes are your specialty. When you poop, you like to tell us "I hold it, I eat it" and then laugh hysterically at your own genius. One of my favorite recent memories: putting you to bed at night and singing "Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink, Skidamarink a-doo." But instead of saying "I love you" I said, "I love...poo." You could NOT get enough, dissolving into giggles. Every single time. "Again Mommy again!" 

But God forbid we help you. Everything must be done yourself. "I do it myself" is your motto. You remind me of the "worry about yourself" kid.

Your hair got so crazy hobo that we finally gave you your first haircut.

Now, depending on what you're doing, you sometimes remind me of Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men." 

Except he had a better attitude.

In Vietnamese there's a phrase "tinh bo" which loosely translates to "expressionless" or "unfazed" or "ignoring your sister and continuing to innocently watch a cartoon despite the fact you just dropped a nuclear bomb and initiated a world war."  You will bite, hit, kick, swat or exact some sort of physical retribution on Emmy--often completely unprovoked and undeserved--and then when she's wailing bloody murder, you're calm as the Dalai Lama in lotus pose. No reaction, no emotion, no remorse. You have been in more time outs as a 2 year old than Emmy ever has in 5 and a half years. In fact, I think Emmy has been in exactly ONE timeout. I know you're not supposed to ever compare your children or do these five things (of which I have done every single one) but Odessa, you are something else for sure.

Extremes. You can be such a bundt face, kicking me right in the jaw because I dared suggest we go brush your teeth, and then minutes later you are a total love. You tell Asian Grandma "I very love you." And you tell Daddy "You are my besssssst brudder." 

You've never met a puzzle you don't love. Wooden blocks, cardboard, hologram. You can do the Melissa and Doug United States of America puzzle by yourself. You have better knowledge of American geography than anyone on your immigrant family side. And the way you say "Oklahoma" is ridiculously cute. "Ohh kla HO ma."

Your Vietnamese is definitely strong with word recognition and understanding. But you rarely use it. Only in a Vietglish kind of way. Like when you said "I didn't cắn Daddy," after you very much did cắn him.

You're just insufferable with all the typical terribles of a two. It's all first-time experiences with you because you are so different from Emmy in so many ways. But it makes us love each of you even more because you're sisters, you're ours, and you're nothing alike.

I love you little Dragon Baby. Just stop trying to overpower me when you don't want to do something. It's exhausting! And you're freakin' strong. And don't repeat that.




Things People Say To Which I Have No Good Response

My reporter training, and my years as a thinking sentient being, have provided me with the ability to politely address these statements but I do wince each and every time.

1. "You don't look Vietnamese! At all. You look mixed/Filipino/Thai/Just Not Vietnamese." Who says that? And yes, I DO look totally Vietnamesey. Goodness.

2. "Did you have work done? On your nose? It's so straight. How about your eyes? No?" This is just weird. Like it's a lose-lose when I say no because either they don't believe me or they don't believe me.

3. "You're looking skinnier*." 

4. "You're looking fatter*."

5. "Congratulations!" I am weirdly embarrassed by praise and also seem to never know exactly what it's for. Not because I'm awesome at things but because I underwent years of Tiger parenting wherein my parents never said they were proud of me until I was in my late 20's and by then I was so hardened the compliments bounced off me like arrows off a woolly mammoth made of iron.

5. "You're a MOTHER? You have KIDS?" Um. Yes? Do I seem THAT unfit? Or do I not talk about my kids enough? How is it not obvious I am totally a woman with children that I bore and fed from my own person? My own person would tell you there were traumas suffered that will NEVER be forgotten. But it is truly worth it for the trade off of having two highly entertaining little humans to shake my head at every single day.

6. "You look much better in person." I know this is usually meant as a compliment but it's funny if you think about it.

7. "You look beautiful on TV." Ditto above.

8. "Is your husband white?" I feel I have to go into the whole backstory every time, i.e. we're high school sweethearts and we grew up in a super white area and he's done many things to earn his Asian card including eating durian, bitter melon, chicken hearts, etc etc.

9. "What does your husband do?" Again with the whole backstory and how I didn't marry him just because he's a doctor but because he has great dance moves and is an extremely patient human being who somehow managed to handle all this jelly for 20--OMG did I just write TWENTY--years since were 16 whole years old.

10. "So you're the newscaster." Which implies that you weirdly somehow knew there was a "newscaster" in your midst and you've been wondering who it was and AHA you've figured it out.

*Gotta love Asian relatives. No pound left behind.

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