Our Sweet Xuânshine

The other day when I took Xuân out of school early for his dental appointment, he told me that his classmates laughed at his last name when his teacher called him for dismissal. Xuân is sensitive and emotional. He worries what others think of him, which
makes him an easy target.

At home Đạo and Đán often exposed Xuân’s vulnerability. They made him screamed in tears. Đạo’s and Đán’s behavior toward his younger brother infuriate me. No matter how many times I had told them that they were supposed to protect his younger brother, they had done the opposite. They accused me of favoring Xuân because he’s my golden child. I love all of my boys, but I sympathize with Xuân who is a sweet boy.

When Xuân was younger, he fought back hard and defended himself when someone attacked him. I am not sure when he stops hitting back when other kids hit him first. Even his little brother, Vương, is hitting him now and getting away with it because Xuân doesn’t defend himself or striking back.

Xuân is physically strong and he’s a tough kid. He is competitive in sports trying to keep up with his older brothers. I learned ice skating with ease after seeing his brothers zooming around the rink. He picked up biking to keep up the pace with his older brothers. He’s joining the swim team. He skis from the bunny to double-black slopes all on his own. He scooters hard at the skateparks. He busted his chin twice—one from falling off the ramp at the skatepark—and got stitches both times. I thought he would quit scooter after that accident, but he went back at it.

My main worry is that he can easily get manipulated if he wants to please others, especially his peers. He got himself into trouble a couple of times at school because he followed other kids breaking the rules. Several months ago we were at the skatepark and he told me that other kids told him to lie down on the ramp so they could jump over him with their scooters. I was horrified imagining if they landed on top of him with their scooters. I had to explain to him that he didn’t have to listen to them and he didn’t have to put himself at risk. Xuân and I bond because we always go to the skatepark together. Even when he was playing video games, he would turn it off and head to the park. His brothers had to be forced to get off and get out.

At the beginning of this school year, we did Let’s Read together and he was struggling to sound out the words. We stopped reading for a while because I lost patience. Midway through the school year, he was still struggling. I raised my concern with his English teacher and she told me that she would work with him. This is their last week of school and I asked him to do Let’s Read again. I was so happy that he could read fluently.

Xuân’s reading progress proved that I should back off and trust my kids to learn on their own.