…because not all of us have our Peking ducks in a row

Things My Elderly Chinese Parents Say to Me

For the past two-and-a-half weeks I’ve been living with my elderly parents in Taipei, as I’m recovering from surgery.  Having the surgery in Taiwan, with its universal health care, was a good move.  Recuperating from an operation with elderly Chinese parents is not.  Spending this time with them has reminded me why I moved out in the first place.

Here’s what I have to endure:


“Susan, are you talking to your sister on Messenger?  Well, you tell Connie..no…Claudia…no no…uh…Sandy – well, whatever your sister’s name is – to call me…before I forget I have another daughter.”


“Susan, where’s my glasses/purse/medication?  Oh, here it is, around my neck/on my shoulder/on the table.”


My Dad, frantic, “Susan, tell me!  What’s different about me today?”


“Just tell me!  Tell me what you see is different about me today!”

“OK.  Uh…you’re wearing…a…a new shirt?”


“A new shirt, you’re wearing a NEW SHIRT!”





“That’s it!  I forgot to wear my hearing aid!”

Low Self-esteem

One day, my Mom unexpectedly gave me a bottle of very expensive lotion.

“Wow, thanks a lot, Mom!  This is expensive!”

“Well, you’re no lotus blossom.  You need all the help you can get.”

Singled Out for Being Single

“Susan, it’s your Dad’s and my wish that you become happily married before we die.  We want nothing else in this world for you.  Whatever happened to that guy Bread?”  (Brad)

“He sold Amway, tried to get me to sell Amway and then stalked me, after I broke up with him.”

“Really?  What about that taller, older guy, who traveled a lot?”

“He had another girlfriend in Texas.”

“What about that Japanese-American guy who drove the beat up car?”

“He was being stalked by his ex, who found out where I lived and did drive bys and left messages on my voicemail.”

“Daughter, you really know how to pick them, don’t you?”


“Susan, I don’t understand.  Why don’t you date a nice, Chinese man.  Are you racist?”

“Mom, I date Chinese guys.  Remember Michael?  Patrick?  And Trevor?”

“Trevor’s Chinese?  Oh yes….well, he was stupid…so I guess I forgot the Chinese part.”

Chinese Mother Martyrdom

“Dear Daughter, I got up at 4am and made this for you.  It will restore the chi you’ve lost during surgery.”

“Yuck!  What is this thing?  It tastes horrible!  It tastes like…I dunno, the waste water collected from the bottom of a garbage can!”

“I took all of the things you’re supposed to be taking – yogurt, a protein shake, Chinese beef noodle soup, some ginger, and flax seed for digestion – and made a soup out of it.  You want to break your dear Mother’s heart by refusing to drink it?”


“Hey, Mom.  Where you been all day?”

“Where have I been all day?  Where have I been all day?  Well, let me see.  In the morning I took the subway to that market where they sell the pig knuckles that your Dad likes.  Then, I went across town to buy those pastries you wanted.  And then, I went to the supermarket to stock up for the week.”

“I didn’t want pastries from that place across town.”

“Nooo.  You like the pastries and you will eat the pastries – all of them.  Because I went all the way across town to get them for you.  Decades after I die, you will remember the time that your seventy-year old Mother went out in the pouring rain to get your Dad his pig knuckles and get you your pastries, so you could recover quickly from surgery, because that’s what Chinese Mothers doAnd you will eat your pastries, whether you want to or not!”

Operating Household Appliances, Computers, and Electronics

“What do you mean the computer’s already five years old and won’t work properly?  I’ve had my car for over ten years!”


“Look, Susan.  If the only problem was that the blender wasn’t plugged in, then I could’ve figured that out for myself long ago.  I’m not an idiot!  No, no, no, tell me the real reason why the blender wouldn’t work.”


“Susan, the remote…aiya!  I’ve done it again.  I pressed the wrong button and now the screen’s all fuzzy and my soap opera’s about to start!  I’m going to find out whether Ah-Ming dies today!  Hurry up, can’t you walk any faster?  It’s already been five days since your surgery, what’s wrong with you, can’t you run?!”


“I can’t believe I live over eighty years, finally retire, and now I’m dealing with this stress.  Are you telling me that I need one remote for the TV, one for the converter box, and another for the stereo system?  And that I can only touch this button, but never that one?  What’s this PC mode, TV mode, DVD mode?  Why do I need to see four different channels at once?  Why is there music radio on my TV?  I don’t need 500 channels.  This is going to give me a heart attack, Susan.  I can’t have another bypass, I’m an old man.  It’s not worth having a stroke over a stupid TV.”


“What do you mean the computer is running Javascript and it’s slowing down my internet?  I can only read English and ChineseEnglish and Chinese.  I don’t need any Javascript.”


“Susan, I want you to remember.  When I die, it will be either because of your Mother or this goddamn computer.”

Marital Conflict

“Susan, I can’t live with your Mother anymore.  Her constant nagging is wearing me down.”

“C’mon, Dad it really isn’t so bad.”

“Well, I was thinking about moving to a house up in the mountains with a housekeeper, but chances are I’d hear your Mom’s voice all the way up there, too.”


“Susan, do you know how to adjust my hearing aid, so that it blocks your Mother’s voice frequency, but I can hear everything else?”


“Your Dad is so stubborn; we seem to argue about everything.  I don’t feel like making him dinner tonight.”

“That’s great, Mom.  That was one of the problems he had with you – your cooking.”


“Mom, what’s all this crap in the fridge?  You have leftovers of everything and it’s all dried up.  Just throw it away, it’s disgusting!”

“No, no, no, Susan!  That’s wasteful.  I’ll eat it, I’ll eat it!”

“But this thing here is growing hair….”

“That one’s for your Dad.”

Chinese Frugality

“Susan, I came from nothing and  look what I have today.  But through all that, I still have this shirt from the 1970s; just look at this.”

“But, Dad.  That shirt is way to big for you.  And it’s polyester…with ugly stripes.”

“Yes.  But the point is – I still have it.”


“You see this bottle of expensive facial toner you gave me three years ago?  I’ve been using it sparingly and I still have half a bottle left!”

“Mom, you’re supposed to finish that in a year!  That thing’s turned color.  Look, it’s all yellow, it doesn’t work anymore.”

“Really?  And I thought that burning, itching sensation meant it was working through to the deep layers of my skin.”


“Here’s some change, Susan.  Go get yourself some lunch.”

“It’s OK, Dad.  I have money.  Besides, you can’t get anything much with just change nowadays.”

“Well, didn’t you say you wanted to go on a diet?”

Lack of Enthusiasm About My Blog

“Dad, did you get the link for my blog I emailed you?”

“Oh…ha ha…uh…yeah.  Um, you know, it’s the funniest thing…I can open everyone else’s mail, but I just can’t open yours.”


A conversation between Mom and Dad:

Dad: If it were me, I wouldn’t write a blog, I’d write a book.  Hell, my life could be a book!  I’ve traveled so much and endured so much hardship…my life would be a fantastic read!

Mom: Yes, yes, yes, Marco Polo…now take your stool softener.

Related posts:

Teaching My Elderly Chinese Parents the Computer

My Favorite Chinese Stereotype: The Lotus Blossom vs. the Dragon Lady

For the Caregivers of the English-impaired

Lies My Superstitious Chinese Mother Told Me & the Chinese Longevity Panty

29 comments on “Things My Elderly Chinese Parents Say to Me

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  5. Strannyi
    August 31, 2012

    I’m having a sudden flashback to my Indian grandmother interrogating a waiter at an Italian restaurant. I believe her dish started off as mushroom ravioli, and ended up as rice with eggplant…or something to that effect. Though I’m sure your parents aren’t that bad.


    • lostnchina
      August 31, 2012

      Ha, hilarious! I guess she’s not one of those, “I’ll have what she’s having” type of person.

      My Mom would always embarrass me by going to some restaurant like Red Robin and asking the server if there are any dishes on the menu that aren’t so “westernized”.


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  9. Pigeon Heart
    April 25, 2012

    Ah! You are hilarious! I’m so glad to have found you! (Nice work Mista Mary!)


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  11. kamamer
    April 16, 2012

    Your mother tried to fix us up once. Wouldn’t she rummage through your kitchen and notice new glasses or new towels and be like “where did these come from?” and you’d always answer “Karl”. And she thought “Karl has good taste in house wares, why don’t you marry him?”


    • lostnchina
      April 16, 2012

      Yes, yes I remember that now. I still have the battered copper bowl you gave me.


  12. elmer
    April 5, 2012

    i wonder what’s keeping you from giving them a son inlaw. how about a son outlaw


    • lostnchina
      April 6, 2012

      They’ve met many potential son outlaws, Elmer. Besides, you think their complaining is going to stop after they get a son in-law?


  13. John T
    April 3, 2012

    Awesome post Susan!! I liked how your mom says you’ll remember when she dies about the time she got your dad pork knuckles and you pastries. I can relate to soooo much stuff hahahhaha. My dad thinks hes the taiwanese simon cowell. Always telling me how the singers aren’t using vocals correctly and not doing this or that right. I’m like ok dad maybe u should go to taiwan and be the judge there instead…..


    • lostnchina
      April 10, 2012

      Thanks for your comment, John! Yes, Chinese parents do like to complain and be martyrs, don’t they? I’m thinking you’re going to be the next winner on American Idol, with your dad’s coaching.


  14. WSW
    April 2, 2012

    If you had a Anglo/Puritan grandmother, you might hear the following (of a relative who had the audacity to dance at a wedding): “Your aunt was NOT having a good time; she only thought she was.”

    Hell has many rings, Susan.


  15. smallestforest
    March 31, 2012

    LOL I love your posts, they resonate so much…mum’s FIlipina, Dad’s a Yank, the battle of the sexes meets culture clash… Thanks for the great post!


    • lostnchina
      March 31, 2012

      Thank you for reading and for stopping by. Yes, the Asian-Western combination always makes for interesting scenarios. But it’s nice to see “both sides”, so to speak.


  16. .jso.
    March 30, 2012

    I love Asian moms. I was visiting mine one day and the fridge was making this horrendous noise. I said, “Mom, what IS that?!” She says, “It’s just talking to me.” Me: “Oh, really. What is it saying?” Mom: “Waste some money on me!”


    • lostnchina
      March 31, 2012

      Ha, that’s a good one. I don’t think we give our Asian parents as much credit as they deserve for their humor.


  17. smilesandhappiness
    March 30, 2012

    Hahaha fantastic! 🙂


  18. becomingcliche
    March 30, 2012

    I bet Marco Polo wished he HAD stool softener. Great post!


    • lostnchina
      March 30, 2012

      Thanks! Yes, I think Marco Polo would have gone much further with a bit of stool softener.


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This entry was posted on March 30, 2012 by in Family, Humor and tagged , , , .
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