1. Your household remains a shoes-free household.
When you were younger, it was kind of a pain to take your shoes off every time you got inside, especially if you were in a rush. You also hated having to tell your friends, “My mom says you have to take your shoes off.” But the older you got, the more you relished being able to take your shoes off when you got home because the outside world is dirty and awful, and your house is not.
2. Speaking of shoes-free, you did have to switch to slippers.
Just got home? Put on your slippers. Right now. Even when you went to visit another Chinese person’s home, you had to wear their guest slippers, and who knows how many feet have been inside there? You tried to get away with not wearing them as much as possible, but she always caught you.
3. The idea of going to Costco fills your heart with joy.
Other kids went to Disneyland, but for you, there’s no place like Costco. Your parents were happy because they saved money by buying in bulk, and you got to buy American snacks in bulk. To this day, the memory of that 24-pack of Dunkaroos makes you feel warm inside.
4. The movie Titanic retains phenomenal staying power in your home.
Even if you were eight-years old when Titanic came out, you and your parents bought the two-piece VHS set and watched it together, and the steamy car scene is the first and last sex scene your mom let you watch, or that you ever watched together. You’re not sure why it’s such a huge movie, but even your Mandarin textbook made a reference to the James Cameron epic.
5. You’ve eaten animals — and animal parts — that your friends have never even heard of, possibly to extinction.
Seahorse? Bird’s nest? Fish bladder? Check, check, and check.
6. If you get sick, it’s because you weren’t wearing enough clothing — even if it’s chicken pox.
And once you are sick, medication is a three-part approach that consists of yelling at you about how you weren’t wearing enough clothing, and making you take cough syrup and pungent tea concoctions from the apothecary that the herbalist put together on an opium scale.
If your mom does decide to give you pills, you can’t read the label, and it’s not just one or two pills, it’s 30 tiny black pills at a time.
7. The idea of you dating someone is terrifying for both of you.
- Her: “What if my kid dates someone and doesn’t marry them?”
- You: *
begins information blackout
When you do start dating someone seriously, it takes months of preparation to a) tell her and b) get them ready to meet her.
- Them: “I’m sure your mom is really nice!”
- You: “That’s real cute. Be ready to discuss your education, combined family income, and career aspirations.”
8. If you had older siblings, you have weird nicknames or ways to address them because your parents taught you not to address them by first name, out of respect.
As a result, your older sibling knows that coughs in their general direction mean “Yo!” and “Come over here, please.”
Speaking of which, you don’t know most of your extended family’s first names. Little Cousin, Old Cousin, and Cousin whose Mom is my Mom’s Sister are all names you recognize.
9. When you were younger, disciplining you involved invoking the police.
Are you making too much noise in the car right now? Okay, see that cop car three cars behind us? He’s been tailing us because he sensed you were being bad. See ya.
10. You learned eventually that in order to get the leisure time you wanted, you needed to game the system.
She wasn’t about to let you go to your friends house two days in a row, because that’s just insanity. If you wanted to hang out with your friends, you needed to stack the deck a certain way so she would be okay with letting you go out. Stay home two days in a row, go out, home, home, home, home, out. Now that you’re a little older, her methods have sort of shaped your own philosophy of taking for yourself.
- Friend: “Should we go to the movies tomorrow?
- You: “I can’t go out tomorrow. I’m out right now.”