Sorry this Mama Didn't Get the Memo - Page 2
Babysitters. I have two younger sisters and their friends (who happened to be Korean) would come over on occasion when I was the oldest one in the house. I guess I was technically "babysitting" but I never received a penny for it from their moms because that just wasn't done. I recently hired a teenage babysitter for the first time to watch my boys. I never knew that it is customary to drive teenage babysitters home at the end of the night if they didn't drive or that you should stock the kitchen with things that she/he might like to eat. More lessons learned.
Child Minding. When I was growing up and we were with a group of other Korean moms and kids, I never noticed them asking each other to watch the other's kids if one was going to the restroom or to their car to get something. I think it was just understood that they would do that for each other. So it took me more than a few times after I became a SAHM, and I am still guilty of not doing it, to realize that I needed to ask the other mom's permission to leave my kids under her watch. Sorry! I know you thought I was abandoning you with my crazy kids when I sprinted across the field to the parking lot, but I was just getting some wipes from the car. It still surprises me when a mom asks me if I can watch her kid while she goes to the bathroom to change the other one. I guess I think it goes without saying, but she is being polite to ask.
Teacher gifts. I never even knew that you had to give your child's teacher a gift at Christmas or at the end of the year until I drove up to H's preschool that first Christmas. I saw another mom and child walking up to the gate with a gift bag and flowers. My parents never gave a single gift to any of my teachers throughout all my years of primary education unless I asked them to do it, which may have been three times. I think they were all too happy they didn't have to deal with the teacher gift system back in Korea, where you have to give the teacher a cash thank-you at certain points each quarter. If you don't, then the teacher will retaliate and keep your child after school to wash the chalkboard erasers or may even resort to corporal punishment for imagined infringements. This happened to my cousin, who was leaving the next quarter to come to the U.S., so her mother didn't pay and she was kept after school doing all kinds of tasks. My aunt paid. Back to the present day, I don't know why the teachers just didn't give me a note at the beginning of December with all their names and photos on it like the doormen used to do in my apartment building in New York. (I figured that out pretty quickly that they did that to make it easier for us to figure out who was nice to us and deserved a tip.) I didn't even know how to spell one of the teacher aide's names for the card because I couldn't figure out what my son was saying whenever I asked him for her name. So if you're a teacher and you get some weird gift or no gift from a child in your class, please don't assume that the parents are being cheap. They might be, but they also might have no idea that is the custom.Continued on the next page