A normal mom wants you to be a gracious guest.
A Japanese-American mom insists that you show up to every party with a gift for the hosts, the hosts’ parents, and something for everyone else who might be there to enjoy.
A normal mom wants you to learn how to properly use silverware.
A Japanese-American mom will sit there silently with her arms folded until you can pick up a single grain of rice with *both* a fork, and chopsticks.
A normal mom wants you to know a bit about your family history.
A Japanese-American mom teaches you about your Japanese origins by making you fold paper cranes until they’re perfect, dammit.
A normal mom might use big words to talk trash about you and your siblings to your grandparents.
A Japanese-American mom will use big words to talk trash about you to your grandparents, but will also use Japanese (*especially* yancha kozo) while pretending to translate for you in English. Or she won’t translate it at all just to drive you nuts.
A normal mom has a go-to family recipe dish for barbecues and get-togethers.
A Japanese-American mom will cook up both shrimp cocktail and shrimp tempura so that everyone has something familiar to eat.
A normal mom wants you to make a good impression when visiting someone else’s house.
A Japanese-American mom rings the doorbell, then wonders why you haven’t already removed your shoes yet (even though you never take off your shoes at home).
A normal mom wants to prepare you for the world outside your home.
A Japanese-American mom prepares you for the world by exposing you to pickled daikon, and can then rest assured you will never encounter anything that smells half as bad ever again.
A normal mom packs you a sack lunch for school.
A Japanese-American mom will pack you an adorable mini lunch bento, but will still put it in a brown paper bag so you don’t get weird looks from the other kids.
A normal mom wants you to learn how to do your own laundry.
A Japanese-American mom teaches you how to do your laundry, then walks you through the zen art of folding by showing you 4 different ways to fold a single t-shirt.
A normal mom wants you to have a healthy dose of self-esteem.
A Japanese-American mom instills in you a sense of stubborn humility, while teaching you the best ways to save face in embarrassing situations. Because that’s basically the same thing, right?
A normal mom wants to inspire in you a sense of patriotism.
A Japanese-American mom knows how complicated this concept is (given the entangled histories of Japan and America circa 1941), and reminds you that your very existence represents progress away from the troubled past.