Thursday, August 31, 2006

Love of Learning

Edited: My two kids' relationship goes in waves of fighting, or sweet sibling bliss, never in between. A couple weeks until yesterday we had a particularly long bout of fighting. Little T was smacking Special K on the face. She cried in pain and bewilderment. He'd climb over her to get somewhere else, kneeing her in the process. He'd grab her toys and scream until she gave them to him. "He's so annoying!" was Special K's constant refrain. Not exactly a great photo for Love Thursday. :) Then today as if on cue for Love Thursday, as we were driving to gym this morning, I captured more recent love.

Yesterday Special K and he had a playfight where they tumbled about and tangled legs, and laughed and laughed. After that he kept jabbering to her sweet nonesense. "I don't understand what he's saying!" Special K exclaimed as bewildered but also delighted. He follows her everywhere, tries to keep up with Special K and her friends. When she was sitting at dinner yesterday, he pulled himself and leaned his head against her several times putting his arm around her. Then today this moment. I hope love will reign for a couple weeks.

Here's the original photo of another time when love also reigned, but back in November. Special K is copying Little T, who is pointing at something and I'm sorry, but I've forgotten what he found so fascinating. So it shows Special K and Little T's love for each other and their curiousity aka love of learning.

For Love Thursday

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Little T's first haircut

Check out my mullet!
My hair's in my eyes! I need a haircut!

I'm not too sure about this haircutting thing...

Hey! Where did my hair go?
Getting my hair cut is interesting

Ooh a mirror!

So handsome with my new haircut!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hey it's a thumb!

Little T's OT poked his right thumb in some theraputty and showed him how his thumb made an impression. Then she pushed his left thumb in the same putty and showed him how it also made an impression. He stared at his left thumb in fascination. I could see the little light bulb go off in his head, "Hey it's a thumb!"

He now moves his own left hand onto the bar of his stroller. He shrugs his shoulder up or uses his right hand to lift up his left hand. I've putting both hands on the stroller for months.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Slowly catching on to this mommy blogging stuff

I've been really busy with Little T and out of the cyberloop for about two years. Eons in Internet time. In the meantime some very cool mamas started blogging.

Amazed Toddler Mom adopted JR from Kazakhstan. She's also a fellow alum of Bryn Mawr.

Chookooloonks has beautiful photos and insightful commentary about her life in Trindad with her adopted daughter Alex. I love her Love Thursday meme.

Charlotte's Journey Home is the tale of Charlotte who like my son has a number of medical challenges which are different but similar in that they both have a g-tube and had periods of being immunocompromised. Irene, Charlotte's mom found me over g-tubes. I never thought I'd be grateful about g-tubes ;)

Silent I is the journal of Glennia whom I met through my local parents' club. She just started podcasting for Career Mom Radio. I enjoyed her piece about going back to work after six years as a SAHM which is an expanded edition of her blog entry No Mom Left Behind.

State of Grace - I met Grace at the photo shoot of Silicon Valley Moms Blog. She gave everyone including me her card, so I checked out her blog. She's a very courageous blogger. I had already half decided to come back out to blogspot again, but talking to her and reading her blog pushed me off the edge.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sister and brother love

For Chookooloonks and Momster comes another Love Thursday. From the first day she saw him in the NICU, Special K has loved Little T. This photo was from the first day she was allowed to hold him. She was so thrilled she gave him a big kiss.

Special K and Little T laugh together every day. They share private jokes between them that I don't understand. Most are non-verbal since many of them began before my son could say a word.

Special K says about Little T "He's so handsome!" "He's so sweet!" "He's so annoying!" (when he pulls her hair)

At almost two years old, but only 30 inches and 22lb, my son's small but scrappy. Special K's quick to intervene if anyone gets in his face. She says "That's my brother!" If he does something wrong, she says apolegetically "That's my brother. He doesn't know any better cos he's a baby."

Technorati Tag: Love Thursday

Monday, August 21, 2006

I celebrate my son's half shoe size successes

My son has grown half a shoe size. I know for many parents this isn't a cause to jump up and down and celebrate, but for us with a child who didn't grow for months, we're so thrilled.

On Friday, we had my son's Individual Family Service Plan(IFSP) for Early Start. We discussed his progress for the past six months, or in our case the past nine months because his IFSP got delayed like everything else. ;) The report and the goals outline which services he receives.

His ISFP report outlines how my son had another relapse of his tumor, his third, and a secondary infection. After he started chemo and massive amounts of steroids, he stopped talking if one word a day counts as talking and he stopped pulling up. He started pulling up again a couple months later. He didn't meet his goals to walk or to be weaned off his g-tube, but he's worked hard.

He met these goals:

get up on his knees, cruise 90% of the time, reach up on his toes and walk with assistance of another parent or a walker - hooray

He can also stand independently if standing for 10 seconds counts. :) Okay it doesn't, but he's working on it.

He initiates conversations. He says these words all the time "go", "ball" "bubble" "bye" "yum" "uh oh" "wow" "yeah" and "mama". He says "backpack" "car" and "dada" maybe once a week. He'll say "mo" (more) "baba" (bottle) "fire truck" "bird" and "ca ca" (cracker) if you say the word first. He understands quite a bit, but other words he won't repeat.

I list these individual words, because now I'm a parent, I no longer believe the quote "The limits of your language are the limits of your world." But these words surely reflect his personality. He's a "yeah" guy not "yes" and "wow" is actually "wowwwwwww", a term of great approval. "go" tells me to go outside where he wants to play all the time and rush around. He's so active. Backpack reflects his and his sister's passion for Dora the Explorer.

He made some progress towards feeding. He eats like a typical toddler now instead of examining each bite like an inspector. He eats 3 tablespoons at each meal instead of 1-2. He drinks 3 oz of formula a day instead of 1.

His goals for the next six months are to walk, talk more and to eat more.

And to me, half a shoe size symbolizes where we are right now. It's not the full shoe size of typical kids. But when I think about where those little feet have been in the past nine months, I feel incredibly proud of what he's accomplished.

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mother and child love captured

By serendipity, using this new bloglines tool, I stumbled upon Love Thursday asking folks to post a photograph of love. What a lovely idea!

Sometimes folks ask me "How do you do it?" One answer is that when he was born, I gazed into his eyes murky with pain and I saw love. I never expected that. I also fell totally in love with my daughter when she was born, but she wasn't hooked up to wire and monitors fighting for her life. Every day when I look at my son, I see love. Nurses, strangers and friends have described him as "engaging." I say he loves people, he loves life.

Love between me and Little T

My friend and photo genius, Morrisa captured this moment.

Technorati Tag: Love Thursday

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Walking the education balance beam

On Monday my daughter graduated from Mini Star 1 gymnastics. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I'm proud of her. On the other hand she seemed happy to stay in Mini Star 1 forever until her friend Sylvia moved up to Mini Star 2. I know it's the beginning of a long line of graduations and keeping up with her friends.

She's always loved gym. However when she started, she was terrified of the balance beam. She wouldn't walk across it unless someone held her hand. Passing Mini Star 1 requires her not only to walk across the beam unassisted, but to tiptoe across it.

She used to laugh and giggle at gymnastics. Now she looks more serious. I don't want to push her, at least not about gymnastics. I've talked to parents around here who sneer at parents who say they won't push their kids. I have a more nuanced view. I think sometimes we all need a little encouragement, a little nudge to do better, strive more, at the right time, because the balance beam, life is scary and discouraging. But I never want my kids to feel my love is conditional on their performance. I also think kids need unstructured play time or they will grow up as adults unable to sit down and relax.

I personally was a product of parents who pushed me too much. When we moved here from London, I was attending a boy's boarding school. My parents thrust me into sixth grade at age ten. I had a fair degree of social intelligence, but even the most socially saavy ten year old can't navigate the intriacies of twelve-year old social networks. I was lost and they knew it. It was also a small class of about fifteen girls. I made one friend each year. Then that friend's parents would notice she only had one friend and she's get transferred to a different school. Now my parents tell me not to worry about my children's education. It's terribly ironic.

And here we reach the crux of the matter. Twenty five some years later and I worry I'm not recovered enough from my horrible educational experiences to make choices based on what my daughter needs. Actually worry is too strong a term. In the grand scheme of things that concern Thida, this is a 2 where 10 was serious worry that my son would die. I know my daughter will be fine and I'm conscious this is a land of plenty problem. But nonetheless I want the very best for my daughter and my son. And it's something I can endlessly discuss with my husband, because we're deluged with choices.

But you know gymnastics is part of my recovery process. I'd never take it in a million years. It's the type of thing I'm spectacularly bad at. It requires eye hand coordination and good balance which I don't have due to my movement disorder. Horrifying stories of my youth buried and forgotten surround gym. The first time she was tested, I clenched my fists half convinced they'd flunk her.

Of course they didn't and it's all worked out beautifully. We took it because her friends were taking it. If I take that lesson to her education, we'd move to Los Altos. All her friends were living in Mountain View, but almost all are moving to Los Altos school district. Problem is Los Altos doesn't have as good special needs resources and I don't want to live in a town without sidewalks. But still I'm trying to learn to walk the education balance beam without being so scared. I'm not my parents. And while school was a place of horror for years, I did eventually go to a wonderful college and get an MBA from UC Berkeley, so my parents did pretty well after all.

We've tentatively decided to put my daughter in Spanish Immersion in the local Mountain View district. She's four this year and already doing Kindergarten math and learning to read. She has asked us to learn both. I hope learning Spanish will keep her interested enough that she won't get bored. I think the mix of students will be enough of the achievers. I think she'll do fine as long as she's not with girls who think it's good to be dumb and pretty. You know the type of girls I mean. I actually don't care about test scores so much as the social mix and not getting bored.

I have no idea what to do with my son who's almost two, but has multiple physical delays, speech delays but is socially advanced and seems bright. I think he'll catch up with his speech in the next year, but he'll need occupational therapy for his arm for years and years. We think about moving to Palo Alto, but with the money we'd spend we could pay for so much therapy. Plus we really love where we live. It's walking distance to the library, park, shops. And two of the neighbors have boys my daughter's age.

Sometimes it sounds silly to me to be thinking of education now when the kids are in not even in kindergarten, but if we change our minds, the waiting lists are long and moving, well, that's a whole other nightmare. How are you walking the education balance beam?

Blogging the Tumor

Blogging has saved my sanity in the darkest period of my life. I could not talk about it, though the problem was incredibly large and led to lots of staring when we did venture out in public. “My son has a life-threatening tumor.” It took me almost a year to be able to say that phrase. A year in which I flailed around swimming in medical jargon. I used terms like Kasabach Merritt Syndrome, hemangioma, and blood-clotting disorder. Nobody understood what the hell was going on and often they were afraid to ask, so they settled for staring or unfortunate misunderstandings of the problem. I’ll never forget how someone told me very sympathetically how her sister had bad eczema as a child, but she had gotten over it and my son would be fine too.

My son only added to the problem. I only brought him out in public when he was relatively healthy. When he was on massive doses of steroids or chemo, he had to avoid people, because his immune system was compromised. But the effects of steroids linger. Puffed up with steroids to a cherubic ideal of a fat baby, he laughed and smiled, so happy to see people. How could he not be healthy when he had such fat cheeks and a round belly? When people asked me, “How are you doing?”, I often said “Okay” or “Hanging in there.” I didn’t have any energy left to explain, not even to friends.

Finally my little ‘okay bubble’ burst when he had a relapse and his tumor regrew. It’s pretty obvious things are just not okay when your son is in the hospital receiving chemo. His fat belly remained, but his cheeks grew gaunt, his arms and legs whittled down to sticks. He looked the picture of a Third World starving baby shown on tv. The few times he ever went outside, people would stare and if I saw them staring would ask uncomfortably “How old is he?” When I’d reply, they’d look away. I wish then I’d be able to tell them I was not starving my own child. In fact at that time and up until now 600 calories pumps into his stomach every night through his G-tube, a small plug that connects directly to his stomach.

The chemo killed his appetite and destroyed the lining of his stomach. The steroids ruined his digestive system. He relapsed another time. He had infections. More hospital stays. His tumor has finally started shrinking, hopefully for good leaving in its wake lots of collateral damage. I’m still recovering.

But back to blogging. During that second relapse when I was so brokenhearted, one of my friends said “Why don’t you blog about it?” I’d been blogging in a desultory way since 2002, back before it was even called blogging. But not regularly. I didn’t have a blog voice. Now I had something to blog about. I blogged about what was happening with my son. But of course I discovered I had more to say than just a medical journal. I also disclosed more than I would have in person. This medical stuff is so hard to talk about. It makes people uncomfortable. And I have this very English tendency to just shut up when people look uncomfortable.

To say it was therapy both trivializes what I was doing and therapy which can be deep exploration. I’m learning to talk about a deeply taboo topic, infant illness. If you don’t think it’s taboo, ask yourself how many celebrities, except tough football players admit to having sick children. Now I can talk about it out loud. I no longer say “I’m okay” when I’m not. I no longer hide my son’s condition behind medical jargon. I’ve never spent a second feeling ashamed of my son or quailed from his long list of medical conditions. However for a long time I took other people’s reactions as shaming.

Last year I even put a link on dotmoms among the 600+. And I reached the point where I started to get a little traffic. Then spam arrived. I was struggling to feed my son. He was losing weight and vomiting. And I’d log into spam about diets. Now I could have complained to blogger about this outrage, but instead I ran back to more private blogging spheres.

A few folks found me anyway and commented on my posts about feeding tubes, the NICU, tumors, and other special needs stuff.

Then lately several nudges at once brought me back out. This blog. Last week I met Badgermama at a social event unrelated to blogging. Lots of post about blogher. At our photo shoot,I talked to Glennia about how hard she tried to get parents to connect to parents in the hospital and largely failing due to the hospital not getting that parents can't do two months of training. I gave Jill the Reader's Digest Summary of my son, because she asked, and I felt okay. Not comfortable because it's not a comfortable topic, but not worrying that it's not comfortable. I've crossed a new threshold.

I listen when several things happen at once. I start to believe perhaps enduring spam is worth venturing forth into more public cyberspheres again. So here am I. I know how hard it is to have a child with serious medical condition/s. I welcome your comments, but not your spam. I've only gotten this far because other folks broke the silence.

Mother and children

Thanks to my friend Morrisa, I finally have three precious photos of three -- me and my two children where they're not crying. I swear they don't cry when I put them in my lap normally or for photos, but somehow they usually do when I put both in my lap for photos. Please let me know which you like the best.




Technorati Tag: Love Thursday

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Little T makes a stand

Little T stood for the first time today. Being him, he wanted to look at a car. He's been trying to rise from his knees to standing for a couple weeks now. He bounced up and down, up and down. Today was a slow graceful rise.

But this also came at the exact same time as my neighbor came to tell us my cats have started pooing in her yard. She told us they have been for the past three weeks. C has put out for a litter box for them. Our neighbor tried cat repellent. I hope the litter box works, because if it doesn't I'm not sure what we'll do.

Technorati Tags: sons, milestone, parenting mom blog,mommy blogger, cats

I need deadlines

I spent three mornings with Mary Anne ostensibly to write, but no actual writing occurred. We had a lovely time talking and I met one of her writer friends. Actually I probably needed to talk.

We went to a mellow potluck on Wednesday. I met several bloggers from Silicon Valley Moms Blog and got my photo taken. I already wrote about my Sunday brunch. Previously a social situation in which I had to catch up or tell folks about Little T's medical issues would make me feel uncomfortable and unhappy. But I'm starting to feel more okay with it. I notice the people around me aren't comfortable, but the topic itself isn't comfortable, so why should they? I'm conscious that I prolly talk a little longer than people want, but I think that talking longer has gotten better the less I steel up to speaking and spill over like a dam breaking.

I interviewed Judy Winter on Wednesday. She was inspiring but still no writing.

My sister came down today. She said she was going to read my book proposal. And here we come to the crux of why I'm bothering to do the book proposal and not write the book first. I need deadlines. I edited my book proposal yet again. Minor tweaks. We talked about it more.

Writing good. Check. Concept clear? No as clear as it could be. I'm very clear on the concept, but the book proposal could be more clear. Will it never be finished? I'm soo sick of it. And yet I'm still excited about my book.

Why on earth didn't someone sit down years ago and tell me "see Thida writing is like parenting." The daily grind, well, the discouragement, the seeming to do the same thing over and over again, it's awful, terrible. Sometimes you wonder why on earth you're doing it. Inner voices and other people line up to tell you how inadequate you are. Your success or failure is due to your hard work, but is also due to factors completely outside of your control. But you live for those moments it's so beautiful and so right. You do it because you have to and because it changes your life and you really want it to change other people's lives.

And yes, I'm back to writing my book again.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Little T the talker

In the past week Little T has made a huge leap in his speech. He's started having conversations. I admit these conversations are on the level of Koko the gorilla and not typical conversation, but they charm me.
Mama mama, up up
I pick up my 23 pound baby. My wrists hurt.
He grins hugely at me.
Mama mama down.
I let him slide down my leg just the way he likes. He laughs and laughs.
Mama mama up up
I pick him up again. My wrists hurt even more.
Mama, down.
We repeat this game several times, even though my wrists are killing me.
Yes, he's learned "Mama will do whatever you want as long as you talk to her."

Top Ten Signs My Kids Love Silicon Valley

Top Ten Signs My Kids Live In Silicon Valley, my second post on Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

10. My 4-year old daughter says, "I can speak Spanish" and says a Spanish word. We're not a bilingual family nor does she attend a bilingual preschool.
9. My daughter takes her own pictures with our digital camera.
8. My daughter asks me, "Why don't we order that on Amazon?"
7. My 2-year old son's playgroup is coordinated entirely via email.
6. My daughter asked, "Is the opposite of ok 'cancel'?"
5. When I asked "Do you know the recycling song?" on the playground, the kids knew several different recycling songs and sang them to me.
4. My daughter sent her first email at 3 years old and received her first email at that age too.
3. I first discovered my daughter could read when she read words on a video game.
2. My daughter says, "Let's go out for sushi."
1. My daughter says, "I need to go do my work" and goes and types on her own laptop (an old IBM Thinkpad) given to her by her dad.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hello, my name is Thida and I love exercise

I feel basically happy right now. 48 hours ago I felt totally stressed and sad. My brain kept telling me "Please end this now. I want this to stop." I wasn't exactly suicidal. Just so overwhelmed that I didn't know what to do with myself. The overall stressors in my life haven't changed much. I've fixed two things. I have arranged for more childcare. I went to the gym for the first time in two years.

Ten minutes into exercising on the elliptical machine, I realised I was smiling, partly from the endorphin rush and partly from the absurdity of it all. My legs felt a bit tight and stiff but the up and down motion felt soothing. The knobs sliding in the grooves looked silly and mechanical. The little LED lights go up and down like one of my son's toy. The timer tells me just how long I exercise like a little child on timeout. And there's something supremely absurd to me about paying to exercise on a machine. I bow to the machine. I can push myself on the machine in a way I can't left to my own devices. It makes me smile how I need technology to exercise.

I also only like the really expensive elliptical machines at the gym. My body does in fact notice the difference. The less expensive machines don't glide as well. The ellipitical machines at the gym push my knees just a tad, but not enough that they hurt. Non gym elliptical hurt my knees after 5 minutes.

I also did a few weights. See, the weight machines have a little LCD display that lights up as you lift the weight up and down. So satisfying!

I realised I have my stress relief all wrong. One of my first hits should be the gym. I get free childcare, exercise and time to contemplate the absurdities of life.

I had this idea that I hated exercise. So I'm surprised to learn I was in fact wrong. I loved the elliptical the last time I was at the gym. I just forgot about it, because it didn't fit in the 'I hate exercise' belief I had about myself. But now I must stand up and say "Hello, my name is Thida and I love exercise." I promise I'm still a nerd too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stress and hand

I went to my first hand therapy appointment today. My wrists are in constant pain. These folks can help relieve the tendonitis and RSI, but not the underlying issues of how I use my body due to my movement disorder. However when you're in constant pain, treating the pain is good, even when it won't treat the underlying cause of the pain. It's bad when taking 3 Advil doesn't make much of a dent.

The therapy was relaxing, but also stressful in weird ways that have to do with me and my disability. Like trying to put my hands in the paraffin wax made me jerk and the assistant was all stressed about my spilling paraffin.

After the session my wrists stop hurting for about an hour. That was really good. I may also get referred to someone who can actually treat me for the underlying issues. Even better.

The proximate cause of this recent flareup is

1) stress. duh.

2) I'm doing too much with my hands that involves locking my wrists. Luckily for you folks, that's not typing. Typing while not exactly great for anyone isn't actually a big load on my wrists. I tried no typing days in a row. Wrists didn't notice. Unfortunately for me, it's mostly activities difficult to reduce like driving, housework and childcare. Depending on who you ask, locking my wrists is my brilliant but painful adaptation to my movement disorder. Or something I can be trained out of.

I'm starting to go to the gym this week to help deal with the stress. I'm cutting a few of his OT and PT apts since he's doing better than I am.

I'll get more help with childcare and housework. I've tried for weeks to get back respite care. Finally yesterday the case worker called back and said she'd get me the PO for a new agency. She said a few days. It'll prolly be a couple weeks.

Where everybody knows your name

The place I've visited most often in the past two years is the Lucile Packard Children's hospital.

I find the place both very comforting and incredibly annoying.

I find it comforting that many of the people there recognise my son (and sometimes me) and say hi. Folks from the NICU which was two years ago still remember him. I love the people there. Almost everyone seems to be kind and keep in mind how stressful it is to be there with a very sick child.

When my daughter was visiting there a lot at her insistence, because we didn't have reliable childcare at the time, but clearly half not wanting to be there, Child Life (a hospital service) gave her an enormous stuffed dog. She named it 'Dell'. Dell has an active life and still accompanies my daughter on adventures. Never mind his size, though she can barely see over his head, my daughter lugs him around. Sometimes when Dell is not around, she'll say "I have a dog named 'Dell'." It will be a little while before the other person learns that Dell is in fact a stuffed dog.

I can't stand the parking garage. Even after almost two years, I still don't know how to park there. I often wind up parking in a compact space squashed between two SUVs. Normally I'd grouse at the SUVs, but I can't really blame them since there's nowhere else to park. About a year ago I backed out of a space in a hurry and completely scraped the side of my car on a pole, ripping off the side of my passenger mirror. I replaced the mirror and kept the scrape. I figured I would just do it again. I haven't so far, but I believe the scrape wards off the poles.

I like the carpets. Somehow they seem nicer than linoleum. I like the art on the walls. My daughter comments to me about Babar. Sometimes entire stories are told from those pictures.

I like how you can sit outside with your food, but I dislike how they are always doing construction. All of Stanford is under construction for some reason all the time. And I can't stand the constant noise. The building was built what fifteen years ago, but it has the thinnest walls ever. You can hear everything everywhere. The construction, the people in the next room, the traffic outside. My son sometimes manages to sleep when he stays there, but I never really managed much sleep there.

I love the kids' faces on the big posters that proclaim that Lucile Packard is the top hospital in the country. It used to say top ten, but it slipped down to thirteen. It's okay I don't hold it against you. I've met a few of the kids on the posters. Like all professional photos, the kids didn't look as good in person. But they were still very cute. It was both comforting to see them as real people and sad that we were there so often that we happened to meet them.

And I'm very glad we're visiting the place a lot less often.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We're not color blind unless we can't see colors

Just as I think it's silly to deny that the men and women are biologically different, I think it's silly to deny there are races, or whatever you want to call, specific genetic characteristics that tend to cluster together. There are slight differences in biology beyond gradiences in skin color. However we're far more than our biology. I think the main ways race actually denote any differences of importance is in medicine. Even in anthropology and archaelogy, people are discovering that people are more interbred than previously thought. Like gender, race is mostly huge layers of cultural constructs layered on top of a thin layer of biology. So please don't tell me you're color blind unless you can't actually see certain colors, or I'll laugh at you.

These babies all look slightly different in terms of body shape, hair type, not just skin color.

Though people fail to recognise that many multi-racial people break their standard filters for determining race. Transgendered or intersexed people break people's filters for determining gender, but that's another discussion. And especially if you're a doctor, you had better ask someone's race rather than just assume you know, because it should affect how you treat them medically.

So I don't see anything wrong with identifying someone by race or ethnicity anymore than I see something wrong with identifying someone as a man or a woman. It's usually easier to tell someone's sex, than someone's ethnicity and you might be wrong more often, but it is an identifying attribute. However I do see something wrong with using race as the sole identifier to describe someone. I'm not the Anglo Burmese woman. There are others like me.

And then of course there's the problem that once you've identified someone as belonging to a particular race or ethnicity, what you do with that information. Small children like Special K don't understand race and ethnicity, but the construct is embedded in our culture and after a certain age, it becomes part of one's way of thinking like gender. Special K already understands gender. And unless you're somehow incapable of absorbing cultural norms, I just don't believe that people don't assign people to some category of race or ethnicity. Categorizing is what humans do. How we make sense of the world.

I would argue that a person who says "I'm color blind" actually assigns everyone to the category of white. People who are rude, or uneducated, or somehow don't fit zie's notion of whatever white means are then downgraded to whatever ethnicity they actually are. That way zie is free to comfortably keep zie's stereotypes about race or ethnicity, because these people fit the stereotype anyway.