One summer, she helped me create a fantasy world in a large cardboard box. We used mirrors for lakes and twigs18 for trees, and I made up fairy-tale stories for my dolls to act out. Another summer, she encouraged my younger brother Tony to pursue his dream of digging a hole all the way to China. She started reading to him about China and every day he spent time digging his hole next to our house. Occasionally, he found a chopstick or fortune cookie my mother had hidden there. My brother Hugh was even more adventurous. As a toddler he pushed open the door to our sundeck and happily tunneled through three feet of snow until my mother rescued him. My mother loved her home and her family, but she felt limited by the narrow choices of her life. She started taking college courses when we were older. She never graduated, but she amassed mountains of credits in subjects ranging from logic to child development. My mother was offended by the mistreatment of any human being, especially children. She understood from personal experience that many children—through no fault of their own—were disadvantaged and discriminated against from birth. As a child in California, she had watched Japanese Americans in her school endure blatant discrimination and daily taunts from the Anglo students. I grew up between the push and tug of my parents' values, and my own political beliefs reflect both. My mother was basically a Democrat, although she kept it quiet in Republican Park Ridge. My dad was a rock-ribbed, up-by-your-bootstraps, conservative Republican and highly opinionated to put it mildly.