Went Fishing With Đán

Highlight of my Father’s Day was spending time with Đán, my second child. Despite the scorching heat, he wanted to go fishing. I had gone fishing in the past, but never paid attention to it. Fishing had never been my thing.

I would rather rollerblade than fish. With my gout flare up, however, skating was out of the question. I took Đán to the state park near our house. Neither of us knew how to assemble a fishing rod. I was grateful for YouTube.

We kicked back, drank Cherry Cokes, snacked on spicy Doritos, and pretended to fish. Obviously we didn’t catch any poor fish, thank goodness. We did, however, spend a few hours together. Đán and I alway have a complicated relationship.

I love all of my kids, but each in a different way. I worry about Đán the most. He had changed so drastically. Of course, kids change when they grow. Even though Đạo is 15 now, I can see him change over the years since the first day we brought him home from the hospital. I kept looking back at clips I filmed of Đán when he was five or six. Now he is completely different, his personality in particular.

He told me that I am being mean to him because of Xuân. In his mind, he always thinks I favor Xuân over him. When he became too verbally aggressive against his younger brothers, especially with Xuân, I stepped in. Both Đạo and Đán have more experience, more vocabulary, and more physical strength than their younger brothers. Naturally, when they picked on Xuân, he couldn’t defend himself yet.

In addition, I am tougher on Đán because he spends way too much time on his computer and doesn’t know how to stop. No matter how many times I explained to him the reasons for what I did, he never wanted to listen. I hope that when he grows older he will understand that my actions have always been fair and balanced.

What I am doing now might make him dislike or even hate me, but I am doing it because I love him way too much. I hope one day he will get it, but if he won’t, I won’t hold anything against him. I just have to do what a father supposed to do. It is my responsibility.

Today we put our differences aside and just enjoy each other’s company. I thanked him for spending Father’s Day with me. It meant a lot to me. I will never forget our time together.

Summer Writing Challenge

Đạo has brushed off his blog, gave it a new look, and kicked off the summer writing challenge. He has to write at least 500 words each weekday, which he doesn’t seem to sweat. He’s not only a fantastic writer, but also a promising 3D artist—something I didn’t know about until he shared it on his blog. I also love that he has the space to criticize his parents. Bring it on, son!

New Wifi Scheduling

Đán wrote a post about the new Wifi scheduling that he hates. Instead of responding to him in the comment section, I write it on my blog.

On Sunday night, I kept hearing my wife asking the boys to shut off their devices and go to bed. She eventually had to yell at them to get them to listen. I decided to setup the Wifi schedule to get the boys off their screen. This Wednesday will be their last day of school. The thought of just letting them sitting on their screen all day long stressed the hell out of me. Even my two older boys don’t know when to stop. If we don’t tell them to take a break, they would be on their screen all day. Even if we told them, they would still not get off.

I needed to do something to cut down their usage and balance their time. I hope scheduling internet access could help a bit. Here’s the schedule: Wifi on from 9 am to 11:30 am (2.5 hours), 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm (4 hours), and 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm (2.5 hours). That’s 9 hours a day. I hope they wouldn’t use all of the hours. It’s 7 or 8 hours more than the pediatricians recommended. Some parents don’t even let their kids use digital devices at all.

Of course, the push back from the kids was expected. What I didn’t expect was the resistance from my wife. She didn’t want to reenforce them. She wanted to let them do it on their own. Apparently that hadn’t worked. I always caved in to her after we got into a fight, but it had come to the point that I just can’t cave in anymore.

Screen time has a significant impact on their academics. They are struggling with school. One couldn’t get his assignments done on time. One is struggling with math, anxiety, and social interaction. One is way behind in reading and writing. If they could cut down their screen and focus on school, they would have done much better.

Đán on Writing

I love reading Đán’s hilarious blog posts. For instance, he shares his thoughts on writing:

To me these blog posts are huge wastes of time and are incredibly time consuming for me even though I type mindlessly and don’t even revise my writing (meaning they should be quick because i’m just speeding through them). But I kinda see the reason behind why my dad wants me to write a post a day. To him instead of it being an apple a day keeps the doctor away. it’s “a blog posts a day keeps the angry dad away” which is something I will carry on with my kids.

Yes, give me 300 words a day and I’ll be gladly stay away.

Lil Xuân Shine

I created a WordPress blog for my third son. I named it Lil Xuân Shine. I will work with him on his writing. Đạo and Đán will resume writing over the summer as well. I missed reading their blogs.

Setting up a WordPress blog is super easy. Setting up the design is not so much. Selecting a theme, changing the design, dragging and dropping the blocks are cumbersome. Gutenberg is still very clumsy to use. I don’t find it intuitive at all. For example, I couldn’t figure out how to change the background color on the title of the individual post.

I am sticking with the classic editor for my blog for as long as it is being supported.

Thanks for the Great Camping Trip

Dear LDHV Cub Families,

I concurred that phở gà was off the hook. Thanks to everyone who lent a hand in making all the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious dishes.

Big props to all the leaders for creating all the wonderful experiences for the kids as well as unforgettable memories for the parents. Your dedication and commitment to the kids are appreciated.

Most important of all, kudos to all the kiddos. Without their presence and participation, the parents wouldn’t have the opportunity to bond. I am one of the younger parents, but I have been with the Cubs the longest. Many parents have moved on to the Troops, but I am still here—and will be here for a while. My advice to the new parents is to take advantage of the activities while your kids are still Cubbies—unless you have tons of kids like I do.

Have a great day and enjoy your spring break. We’ll be in Vermont skiing and snowboarding to Lệ Quyên’s ballad remixes. LOL!

Yours truly,
Donny Trương

Responding to Đạo’s Post

Đạo uses his blog to vent his frustrations. I appreciate and encourage that since I can’t get much out of him when we talk face to face.

Recently I wanted to implement time-limit programs on their devices, especially Đạo’s and Đán’s. I don’t want to control what they do, but I want them to manage their time. Without time limitations, they don’t stop. Even when his mom and I asked them to turn off and go to bed, they still linger on after many hours of usage.

They have 24 hours a day. At least 8 hours are reserved for sleeping. The rest of the hours need to be balanced out with off-screen activities, and not just phone and PC. They need to be able to switch their minds off.

When we went to Stowe for a week, Đán wanted to go home on the first day as we took the first chair lift to the top of the mountain. He hadn’t even started to snowboard yet. We paid all this money and drove almost 12 hours so we could have a nice ski trip together. Yet all he could think about was spending time on his PC? That just made me want to take away their devices for good.

Đạo goes everywhere with his phone and spends hours on it, even when he uses the bathroom. He used to read voraciously. Now I hardly see him hold a book. It breaks my heart. He used to be socialized. He could talk to anyone. Last week, I took him and Đán to a seafood buffet with my friends and their kids. All they did was glued to their phones even though I asked them to put them away and talked.

As for Đạo’s grades, my wife has to constantly check his work, remind him to do his assignments, and retake his tests. If he is allowed to retake his tests, he should not get anything below a B. In fact, he should be able to get all A’s. The issue is that he isn’t being on top of his school work. They aren’t his priority. Digital screens take over his academics.

We had a discussion on time limitation and they both strongly opposed it. I made them a deal. I won’t put on a time limitation. I won’t ask them to turn off their devices. I asked my wife not to remind them about their assignments unless they come and ask for help. I want to give them an opportunity to prove themselves that they can manage their time. If the next quarter report comes in, Ðạo gets below a 3.5 GPA and Đán gets more than five 2’s, their devices will be gone for the entire quarter. Freedom comes with responsibility.

Hitting Close to Home

As a father, my constant concerns, worries, and fears on digital addiction, depression, and self-destruction are hitting close to home. They are happening around me to the people I know.

Talking about the danger of digital addiction to my kids isn’t sinking in. They can’t pull themselves away from their screens. Their brains aren’t mature enough to walk away. I can’t help them if they can’t help themselves.

I am so tired of repeating myself. My words don’t mean a thing. I want to just let them do whatever they want with their lives. At work, I present the issues. If they don’t want to fix the issues then they are no longer my problems. My kids are my responsibilities. They stress me out, but I can’t stop worrying. My mind is exhausted by the end of the day.

I am not sure what to do. Continuing to be a pain-in-the-ass parent or preparing for the worst? I really don’t want them to go down the wrong path. Dealing with the issues now rather than facing the consequences later.


I woke up with a bit of a migraine. I was not sure if the culprit were the beer from last night, the falling incident at the skatepark, the lack of sleep, or the combination of all of them. Still, I woke up early to take Ðạo to school.

Then I met up with Xuân’s teachers for the parent conference. I was in shock to learn that he had been struggling academically. He doesn’t understand Spanish at all. Even though I was surprised, I was not mad at him. With Đạo and Đán, I didn’t see any value in learning Spanish, especially when neither my wife and I know the language. I would rather they focus on English. If they had to study another language, why not Vietnamese?

Xuân is also struggling with math, writing, and reading. He is having a hard time staying focused. He is easily distracted. He scored low his reading assessment.

I felt so guilty. I assumed he had been doing good. His behavior had been much better this year; therefore, I hadn’t heard anything from his teachers. While his social skills had improved, his learning had not.

After the meeting, my migraine dialed up a knot. Had going to the skatepark taken away his school work? I need to spent more time helping with his schoolwork.

I took my sister and her daughter to the Great Fall Park. The weather was beautiful. The scenes were stunning, but I couldn’t get Xuân off my mind.

By the time we got back home, my migraine kicked in. I had to pop in an Aleve and went for a late nap. I slept for a bit and my migraine had subsided.

Vợ vắng nhà

Tháng trước vợ hỏi tôi làm tài xế đưa mẹ và chị vợ qua Maine chơi vài ngày cùng với mấy bác và anh họ từ Texas bay qua. Nghe nói tôm hùm ở Maine ngon lắm tôi cũng muốn thử cho biết. Tôi đồng ý nhưng nghĩ lại để vợ ở nhà một mình trông bốn thằng con cũng tội.

Tôi đề nghị vợ đi chơi với gia đình. Vợ ít có dịp đi chơi riêng không có chồng con để được thư giãn. Vợ còn lưỡng lự không biết có nên đi không thì tôi khuyến khích vợ nên đi để dành thời gian với mẹ mình. Ngày nào còn có mẹ thì hãy quý trọng đừng bỏ lỡ cơ hội. Khi không còn mẹ nữa, tôi mới cảm nhận được sự mất mát trong cuộc đời. Tôi không vợ phải tiếc nuối về sau. Chắc nghe những lời nói đó nên vợ chịu đi.

Sẵn dịp tôi cũng muốn dành thời gian riêng với bốn thằng con. Đồng thời cũng muốn thử sức mình có thể tự chăm sóc tụi nhỏ lúc không có vợ. Lúc nào tôi cũng ỷ lại có vợ chăm nom cho đàn con. Ba thằng lớn tôi không ngại, chỉ hơi lo thằng út vì nó rất gần với mẹ.

Sáng thứ Tư, vợ, mẹ, và chị đi sớm ra phi trường lúc mấy đứa nhỏ vẫn còn đang ngủ. Bảy giờ tôi dậy đưa thằng Đạo đi học. Trở về tôi gọi ba thằng còn lại dậy đi ra Dunkin Donuts ăn sáng. Lúc đến trường , tôi dặn Đán và Xuân dắt tay Vương vào cửa để nó đừng khóc.

Tôi trở về nhà làm việc. Giờ nghỉ, tôi thu dọn lại nhà cửa một tí cho ngăn nắp. Đến trưa, tôi chạy đến trường ăn với Vương. Nó rất mừng thấy tôi đến. Nó ngồi ăn thật là dễ thương. Nó ăn xong trở về lớp, tôi nén lại cafeteria để gặp Xuân. Hết giờ trưa, tôi trở về nhà tiếp tục công việc cho đến chiều đi rước bọn nó.

Lúc đón Vương, thấy mặt nó hơi buồn chứ không vui như lúc ăn trưa. Nó ôm lấy tôi khóc sướt mướt và nói rằng, “Con nhớ mẹ.” Tôi ôm nó vào lòng và an ủi. May là mấy đứa bạn của Đán thấy vậy cũng đến high-five, bắt tay, và ôm nên nó cũng không còn khóc nữa.

Sau đó mấy cha con đi skatepark trượt gần hai tiếng đồng hồ. Xuân vượt qua được nỗi sợ hãi của nó và đã trượt scooter từ trên đỉnh cao xuống. Đến sáu giờ, cả nhà đi ăn tối. Đán muốn sushi buffet. Giá cũng khá đắt nhưng thôi kệ. Đáng tiếc rằng thức ăn cũng không ngon lắm hay tôi đã quá mệt nên ăn không thấy ngon.

Về nhà tắm rửa cho tụi nó chơi game một chút rồi đi ngủ. Ngày hôm sau thời khóa biểu cũng tương tựa. Chỉ khác là chiều về nhà ăn tối vì ăn ở ngoài tốn kém quá. Đạo và Đán vào bếp làm chảo Tteokbokki.

Hôm nay thứ Sáu Vương được đi field trip ở nông trại Cox nên tôi cũng lấy một ngày nghỉ làm để đi chơi với nó. Chiều nay không đi skatepark vì phải đi hướng đạo. Ngày mai mẹ bọn nó trở về. Bốn ngày trôi qua thật nhanh. Hy vọng vợ có được những giây phút nhẹ nhàng và thư giãn.