2. On vacations, your parents took photos like this:
You laughed, rolled your eyes, but years later you realize you should’ve taken more photos of them.
3. They did this at the fruit aisle:
4. And ordered hot water at restaurants.
5. They coached you on starving before a buffet and gorging only on rib eye and lobsters. Seafood-phobes were deadweight in buffet Olympics.
6. When the bill came, older relatives fought, i.e., yelled and screamed in the middle of the restaurant, for the right to pay.
7. Some distant cousin or family friend’s son/daughter is always being trotted out as a paragon of perfection that you’re falling short of.
8. When you got sick, your parents fed you bitter herbal brews, or sent you to weird bruising traditional treatments:
It didn’t actually hurt, but you were always afraid someone would report you to Child Services when you changed for gym.
9. Your mom’s always convinced it’s too cold without a jacket outside.
And you would never, ever, leave the fan on when you’re sleeping.
10. Your relatives stuffed you with awesome food. And they didn’t hesitate to comment when your waistline ballooned.
Expert food trolls, those Asian aunts.
11. You ate savory breakfasts littered with jarred pickles. Rice was always involved.
12. When they visited you, they always crashed on some relative’s couch, or kicked you out of your own bed.
They were convinced hotels were a rip-off.
13. The remote control is wrapped in plastic wrap.
14. For a household that was low on luxury, there were a lot of foot massagers, back massagers, massage hammers, and massage accessories.
15. Your mom put fluffy dried pork into your sandwiches, and your friends said it looked like hair.
Scarred for life.
16. Your fridge was packed with jars whose labels never matched the food within.
You also saved every jar to store pickled stuff.
17. You only had bowls. No plates.
18. The dishwasher was used only as a drying rack.
19. In the drawers were free napkins, cups, utensils, and mini shampoo bottles your parents hoarded from hotels.
Also shower caps, though no one in your family has ever used one before.
20. Saturdays, you studied your parents’ native tongues. Sundays, you practiced an instrument. Your dad was rad if he let you pick the guitar.
21. Your friends were always wondering why your parents were arguing. That’s just how they speak.
22. Everyone was your aunt or uncle, but you had no idea if they were actually related to you.
Also your parents called each other Mom and Dad instead of their first names. In fact, you didn’t even know adults had first names.
23. You know what durians smell like.
24. People always assume that you’re related to another Lee/Chung/Nguyen/Hong/Kim that they know.
25. Nothing will stop your aunts from trying to set you up with royal bores with Ivy League degrees.
“Mom, we have nothing in common.” “But she’s a doctor from Harvard!”
26. Every year, you got money in red envelopes on New Year’s.
27. Finally: Your parents gave you everything they had and spent nothing on themselves. They know firsthand the dangers of the world, and their work isn’t done until they see you settled and safe.
Their clothes are 20 years old, but they sent you to college. They may be too stoic to say, “I love you,” but you know they do, and you wouldn’t change anything! Thanks, Mom and Dad!