And Dim Sum More: Staples of My Childhood

I feared the shears. When I look back to the early 2000s I don’t immediately think of huge belts or low rise jeans, but of the haircuts my mom gave me and my sister in our childhoods. The straight cut of bangs stopping in the middle of our foreheads and blunt chin-length was what my sister and I coined the box cut. Even after growing out of the hairstyle, I continued to dread getting my hair cut by my mom as I expected her to chop off all of my hair in favor of the box cut. As I grew older, I came to realize that many of my Asian friends had been given the same haircut; not just as young children but even through elementary school. Seeing how many of us experienced the same grievances, I started to think about other similar qualities of our childhoods. Below is a starter pack of my childhood that I think many other Asian former-youngins can relate to.

A Cookie Cutter Hair Cut

The bowl cut. What a look. Others have rocked the style, but for toddler me, it was not my best look. I’m not sure why the bowl cut has been such a go-to for small children, but my mother’s reasoning for giving me the cut was simply that “it’s cute!” Fortunately, I grew out of the straight-edge bangs before entering kindergarten, but I still don’t trust my mom with scissors.

Zero Color Coordination

I don’t know how it ended up in my house but a small red NEMS backpack was always just there. A branch of North East Medical Services (a healthcare provider for many Asian households) was a couple blocks from my house so I assumed that was the backpack’s point of origin. I thought the backpack was a limited promotional item, but I started to see it everywhere! Spotted at grandmas house, friends’ backs, on the streets, this backpack seemed to be very popular.

My childhood closet consisted of Disney Princess tee shirts, brightly colored vests, windbreaker pants with the optional convertible feature, and grandma’s knitted apparel. Her knitting abilities ranged from vests and sweaters to headbands. Super warm and a lil itchy; I always felt cozy wearing her pieces.

First in the Shopping Basket

When in need of Asian snacks, look no further than Sunset Super on Irving Street. With aisles of packaged snacks next to raw fish counters, it is the place to go for your dinner fix as well as your weirdest cravings. As a child walking into the supermarket, I would immediately separate from my parents and head directly to the snacks. Chocolate Pocky sticks and wasabi peas are still some of my favorites, but years ago I gravitated toward the big plastic container full of jelly sticks. With an assortment of fruit flavors and slick transportability, it was easy to finish the whole container within a few days. Another classic kid favorite was the VitaSoy Chrysanthemum Juice, Lemon Juice, Soy Milk, and Malted Soy Milk. So many flavors, so many choices! Even though I haven’t had them in years, I can still remember exactly how each one of them tastes.

Tripping Over Walls and Such

On the bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom walls were posters and flyers with new vocabulary words, chemical elements, and math equations. Every turn was a new educational opportunity. You could escape school but you couldn’t escape learning.

Like any other child, I loved playing with toys. But while others played with Barbie dolls and American Girls, I had Hello Kitty. The scope of my Hello Kitty collection was expansive: pillows, utensils, comforters, clothing, stickers, pencils, and books. I had an obsession with cats as a child, and I have a feeling being surrounded by Sanrio merchandise definitely contributed to it.