If your parents are from somewhere other than the good old U S of A, it’s likely that your childhood was pretty different from your friends’. Growing up, you probably didn’t eat, drink, watch, or even talk about the same things that most of the other people your age did. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes it was awkward, but mostly it was pretty cool to be different from the people around you. In any case, there were some distinct characteristics marking you as a first generation kid. Here are some sure-fire signs that you’ve been raised by foreign parents.
1. You never had the typical peanut butter and jelly school lunches.
What’s that in your lunchbox? It's some meat dish native to your parents’ country? That's classic. Growing up, your friends never understood the bizarre foods that you ate and you never really tried explaining it to them. This is, in part, because “tvarok v shikoladie” is a little hard to pronounce and also because it’s hard to explain why chocolate covered sweet cheese would ever be something that people would want to eat.
2. You always brought the most unique things for show-and-tell.
You were never the kid who brought in "Green Eggs and Ham" to show to your class on show-and-tell day. Whether you brought a foreign book from your childhood, a toy unique to your culture, or some other object that your parents brought over from the motherland, you were always the star of the show.
3. You had the busiest schedule out of every 10-year-old in your class.
Monday at 4:00 p.m. was ballet class, then at 6:30 p.m. you had language lessons. On Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. there was soccer practice, at 5:00 p.m. you had Kumon, and at 7:30 p.m. you had tennis. The rest of the week went on pretty much like that. Extracurriculars filled time, built character, and were of high importance.
4. You grew up hearing, “Say something in [your native tongue]!”
Whenever your friends or classmates found out that you spoke your native tongue, you could be sure that you would spend the next 15 minutes translating sentences like, “I love [student]. They are my best friend in the world.” It's fun for the first 5 minutes and tiring for the next 10.
5. School was very important.
4.0’s were expected and B’s were considered failing. If you could, you grew up in the best school districts and had a variety of tutors to ensure that you did the very best that you could in school so you could get into a top college. Your parents didn’t up and leave their whole lives behind to immigrate to America so that you would get a mediocre education.
6. Your parents were pretty overprotective.
“You want to do what?” Your parents came from a place where childhood lasted much longer and was much more restricted than it is in America. As a result, they held the reigns in pretty tight when they were parenting. This meant that plans with friends needed to be made and approved far in advance, going anywhere on your own was a pretty big deal, sleepovers were a special treat, and phones had to be charged, on, and answered at all times.
7. Your family doesn’t really follow American sports.
Sure, your parents get excited to watch gymnastics whenever the Olympics come around, but football will always be a little bit of a mystery to them. They never took you to NFL or MLB games growing up and, as a result, sports have always been a little bit of a mystery to you. That is, until you got to the age where your friends got you into them.
8. When you went away to college, a lot of it was foreign to your parents.
What is this nonsense about frat parties and Greek life? Your parents likely spent college much like we spent high school: living at home and being at school only for class. They had no sororities or fraternities, no roommates, and no understanding of how that stuff works. They learn it along with you, of course, but some things will always be a little lost in translation.
9. Your parents were pretty relaxed about drinking.
Since America has some of the tightest drinking laws in the world, your parents always found them to be a little ridiculous. As long as you were safe, they never really minded you having a little fun every once in a while. Which, to be honest, you never complained about.
10. Your family loves you unconditionally and more than anything in the whole world.
Considering that your parents moved their entire lives so that you, your kids, and their kids could have a better future, they must love you a whole darn lot. They might get angry when you try to break off from their norms or confused when you talk about overtime, but they always do their best to make you happy. Family is the absolute number one priority in your household and your parents never ever forget it. They have and always will do anything for you.