Do you remember the transition when your parents are no longer the ones that are taking care of everything and making all the decisions for you, or even when the roles may have reversed?
For any first generation immigrant or child of an immigrant, you can experience that earlier than expected. I had an eye exam with a wonderful Turkish family. The 11 year old daughter was in the exam room with her mom. Just like any kid, she was just sitting at the corner, playing games on her phone. She would occasionally finish her mom’s sentence by filling in the English words that escaped her mom’s mind. Since she’s had her eye exam already, the daughter was describing some of the procedures to her.
I remember when my family moved to Canada when I was 13. I’d call on my mom’s behalf to clear up any utility bill confusions, or to negotiate phone plans while my mom tells me what to say. I would read mails regarding insurance and taxes that a 13 year old wouldn’t understand. (“So what does it say? You don’t know? How come? You know the words, right?) I remember I would do all these things grudgingly or complain under my breath. I was a teenager. I wanted to chat with my friends, not customer service. Now, I look back with appreciation and respect for my parents. It is already hard enough to adult. It is even harder to adult with children in a second language.
I still help my parents out. Now, I understand their mail a lot better. I can even troubleshoot for them without consulting anyone. After my time being away for school, my parents have learned to rely on themselves more. My mom had learned online banking and even started having doctor’s appointments without me. I remember coming back home and realizing that my mom had learned to handle a lot on her own. I was proud of her but also feeling oddly lost.
I’d still like to think that they need me around.