Lao-Americans celebrate everything and I mean everything basically the same way: with Lao food, with alcohol, and with an entire community. If you’re an outsider, you would not be able to tell apart if the goat feast in the backyard is celebrating a Lao wedding, a Lao housewarming, a Lao funeral, or a birthday. No age of birthday is safe from such a drunken atmosphere, even little ones’ own days. I think the Lao have the right idea by celebrating a ‘village’ rather than focus on a single person. Many coo over the precious Bébé yet very few actually consider other people, especially one of whom whose hoo-hah was deeply affected by such existence, that all helped raise a child. Yes, sure “happy birthday” but can we give it up for everyone else?
20. Birthday Kid We sang her a song, baked her a cake, and made that day all about her. Lanoy gets her day and a shout-out because she is a sweet baby girl, who makes me proud every damn day to be her mama.
19. Mama I think it’s safe to say none of us would be here if it weren’t for a womb of steel and mighty loins doing the hefty work. So, I am giving myself a huge ass pat on the back and a strong ass cocktail.
18. Dada It takes two to tango-parenting? Here’s to Gym Hottie for kinda, sorta helping out in the year that was the first year of Double-Trouble Parenting. Kinda.
17. Big Bro I cannot be any more proud yet guilty of Humnoy being thrust into this role. He’s shown us how much he’s grown when he tries to soothe his sister or when he tackles her for touching his toy. Seriously, Dude’s getting huge.
16. Grandparents GH and I would like to give a major shoutout to my and his parents for being the best grandparents many, many, many miles away. Our kids might not recognize you on the street but they love all the love you send anyway.
15. Aunts, Uncles, and Other Obscure Family Tree Members I can’t tell you how many “aunts” and “uncles” I had growing up. Get this: my mom only has three yet only two non-estranged siblings but I have 30 times the amount of “cousins” through various family-friend connections. My real-real family are the greatest people I’ve ever known and the -Noys’ Aunts and Uncles: The Next Generation.
14. Neighbors Living in apartments, we get to be really close but not all our building mates are all who we (want to) interact with. The kids (Hum since little toddlerhood; La since birth!) have a strong connection with our apartment home community office girls. Yes, even Clingy McClingerson.
13. Ergobaby You have carried me through two kids and I don’t know how I could have been a mom to a toddler and a newborn if it weren’t for the carrier. It’s old and worn now (label fell off) but I got it in the perfect color: Black (aka Stain Disguise).
12. YMCA Daycare Confession: I haven’t been to the gym in months but it’s nice to know I can drop off the kids to go “work” “out” “in” “the” “gym.” The option is good for a mom mental health day.
11. Fast Food Worker Man, not only do you give me hot, weird-for-you food but you do so with a sympathetic ear. Speaking of ear, sorry for the shrieking children from the backseat but I gotta make sure we eat before grocery shopping. Never Go Grocery Shopping While Hungry.
10. Asian Wax Salon I love that they always try to convince me to cut Humnoy’s luscious locks every time I’m in with the kids, which is always because my lip and underarm hair grows like a muth. I also love that they accommodate my kids with lollipops and comfy chairs as I accommodate the shit out of that hair.
9. Random Old Ladies Thank you for commending how well-behaved my babies are as I’m trying to get the fuck out of the store before these well-behaved babies aren’t so behaved. Don’t tell these sweet little old ladies, but I bribe the shit out of my kids.
8. Grocery Bakery Does your grocer’s bakery give out freshly baked cookies as you’re shopping? Our favorite one does and this helps my bargaining leverage so I can have those well-behaved babies every old lady notices.
7. Little (Big) Kids How adorable is it when big(ger) kids try on the Mommy or Daddy role and try to take care of little kids? Our community has elementary-aged kids at our playground and they love the -Noys! I’ll just be over here
6. Supervisor Huge appreciation to you giving me a job that is flexible around my schedule and availability. Also, thanks so much for providing a justified (and paid) break from motherhood. That shit be so nice.
5. Public School Students I mean, if it weren’t for these kids, I wouldn’t have a job. After a day teaching though, I run with open arms to the Double-Trouble Team back at home. Hormones on a prison schedule makes toddler tantrums sound like a melodious chart-topping hit rather than a banshee.
4. Real-Life Strangers I don’t know you and you don’t know me but I really appreciate you not acting like you do on the Internet out here in real life. As long as you don’t helicopter my ass or harass my family, you can judge my parenting at a glance all you want.
3. Internet Strangers Huge, huge shoutout to the fake friends that I made online (<— hahaha, like I’m making paper dolls or some shit) and the trolls that proved to me that I do not need to feel validated in others like you do to be comfortable in my own skin and voice. Bye, Pholicia!
2. Third-World Parents I used to turn to Facebook groups and online discussions but I now ask, “what would my grandmother do?” and I know the answer. Thanks for always being with me and the children long after you passed.
1. You Yes, you. Thank you for being there on the other side of this screen reading these words. Thank you for being interested in my culture, my family, and myself even when it’s not popular. Again, thanks for acting like you do on the Internet. Keep that shit up.
birthday Parenting Survival Anniversary!
Who’s in your village?