Being the youngest daughter of a Chinese mother and a New England father, I've witnessed the numerous idiosyncratic circumstances in which my parents were required to resolve. For instance, which sport should our daughters learn how to play? "Soccer? ...or maybe basketball?" My dad encouraged. My mother stood her ground, as both sports were much too masculine for either daughter to participate in. "Ballet and figure skating." She replied. My dad nodded. It was settled.
Summer vacations were spent in a cozy apartment in Beijing, China, my mother's hometown. In the months prior to the respective departure, my mother would embark on many shopping excursions, purchasing knick knacks, cereal boxes, football jerseys, and whatever was appropriately deemed "American". When the suitcases were loaded with frivolous gifts for the family, my mother would then purchase girlish sundresses for my sister and me to wear. "I'm a city girl!" My mother declared in the red-stained aisles of Target. "We know how to dress. I'm not some ugly farmer or dumb tourist."
Being a native of Beijing is significant. Extreme patriotism and a certain romanticism for Chinese history are all common symptoms in which my mother and her siblings fall prey to. For example, one afternoon was spent in Tiananmen Square, a historic landmark that has been transformed into a popular tourist trap. Street vendors flocked to make profits, casually bumping up sale prices for faraway travelers.
My mother and her sisters were admiring statues of Mao Zedong, whose countenance was available in various shapes and sizes, glazed with bronze, silver and gold paint. My dad noticed that a small statue was in my mother's hand as she browsed jewelry and lucky cats. "What's that?" he asked. My mother rolled her eyes and ignored his question. "I think I'll put this in the living room." She said. "Where?!" My dad pushed. "On the fire mantle, in the living room. It will look very nice with my flowers," my mother replied, transitioning from innocent to stern. My dad was unhappy, as his Boston accent dramatically heightened. "You can't put that there! That's where the Christmas stockings hang!" My mother reasoned with him. "Okay, how about the piano?" she asked. "Absolutely not!" he yelled.
My parents looked at each other with volatile poison streaming from their eyes. Although my sister and I were embarrassed, we were secretly loving it, as we held back giggles. Eventually, my mother surrendered and placed the statue back with its family. Although the tension did not particularly vanish at that moment, my parents were back to normal the next day.