Posts Tagged ‘parents’

The Dog Speaks Chinese

Chinese tourists/my parents in my home!

"Chinese tourists" in my home!

After dropping off my parents and brother at O’Hare this afternoon, it hit me that time always seems to fly when I’m off from work.  My family arrived just before the Thanksgiving weekend and it’s been a relaxing and productive time together.

Whenever my techie brother is here, he upgrades all of our computer systems and makes sure my family is in top technical form.   He outfitted my daughter in a new system altogether and then declared that she better “operate 25% smarter”!

He’s the reason my parents are so technically savvy.  They are never without their laptops and iPhones.  In fact, they’re the only senior citizens I know who can teach others about the best apps.  Although they communicate best in Chinese.

"I can understand Chinese?"

"I can understand Chinese?"

My mom kept talking to our dog in Chinese and now she insists that he understands.  Nutty is happy to play with anyone.  He’d likely learn some Swahili just to get a treat.

Both of my children study French.  And since my husband and children speak very little Chinese, it’s always a mishmash of two languages whenever my parents visit.  My father’s English is pretty good but his hearing is limited. And my mother’s hearing is great but her English is limited.  Since her English is better than most people’s Chinese, she’s a good sport when we have fun with her often-amusing broken English.

While listening to classical music in the car, my mother asked “What tiffany this one?”  I bet Mozart would understand what she meant.  After I brushed my daughter’s hair, she felt it and declared, “Wow, that as soft as soup!”   Our favorite is something she uttered while we were visiting them in California.  I was about to use one of their laptops when she steered me towards another one and said, “That laptop no juicy.”  Mother knows best.


12 2009

Happy Birthday. In Chinese.

"What'd you say?"

"What'd you say?"

Today is my father’s 70th birthday.  It is quite a milestone but I wasn’t able to spend it with him.  In fact, I haven’t been able to wish him a happy birthday in person for about 20 years! In the television biz, November is a “sweeps” month so I never even consider asking for time off.  I’m certain he understands.   He spent over three decades operating our family restaurant and never took a single vacation.

My parents are retired and settled in Northern California.  They watch me everyday via the live streaming of Fox Chicago News at Noon online. The rest of the time, my mom claims she’s yelling.  My father is hard of hearing and still refuses to get fitted for a hearing aid.

My mom claims she's a human hearing aid.

My mom claims she's a human hearing aid.

As I do on many days after the newscast, I call my parents on the way home.  Today’s call is imperative since it’s my father’s birthday.  No one’s answering.  I call again.  No answer.  Within minutes, my mother calls back to report that she was upstairs and my father could not hear the phone ringing.  In Chinese she tells me, “I want to buy him a hearing aid for his birthday but he won’t go!”

She puts him on the phone.  I loudly wish him a happy birthday and ask what he’s up to.  Other drivers on the Kennedy probably think I’m having a heated argument with someone.  My father responds by asking about my work.  I don’t think he heard what I asked and as I’m sharing my news he says, “Okay, here’s mom.”

“We have to go now” she declares, “It’s half-price dim sum today at the tea house!” There’s always plenty of yelling there, too.


11 2009

Parental Supervision

My parents are enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

My parents are enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

My parents are in California but they watch Fox Chicago every day, either on satellite or online.  If I take a day off and they don’t see me on the air, they’ll call to make sure I’m okay.  Otherwise, they expect me to call them at least every other day or so.  It’s among the few opportunities I get to speak Chinese.

As I drive along the Kennedy Expressway, my mother’s on the line complaining about my father’s hearing.  He’s lost all hearing in one ear and the other’s at just 2%… I think.  Something’s getting lost in translation.  My dad gets on the line to boast it’s 20%, not 2%, so he’s got 80% of good hearing in one ear!  They proceed to bicker loudly about the amount of hearing loss – “The doctor said it was the amount left not the amount lost.  You hear?”

My mom goes on about always having to answer the phone because he can’t hear it ringing. He simply refuses to wear a hearing aid.  The patriarch often has the final say in many Chinese families.

It’s all like a “Seinfeld” episode.  In Chinese.  On mute.


09 2009