You can always tell which Asians migrated to Australia as adults and which came as children by listening to conversations between parents in the playground. Asians who arrived as children or who were born here, talk to others about children’s likes and dislikes, family trips to the beach and after-school play-dates. They sound a lot like most Aussie parents, with the exception that many rue being unable to communicate in their mother tongues.
Asians who only made the move after their formative years, like myself, sound like this:
“That teacher is so lazy. Why is the child assessed for reading only once every four months? Shouldn’t it be weekly?”
“My child is so lazy. Only plays the piano ten hours a day. How to improve like that?”
“I am so lazy. Today I only cooked, cleaned, washed and ironed all the clothes. If I was more hardworking, the house would be shining from top to bottom.”
It’s an insider’s joke that everyone’s lazy but manages to get plenty done. Aussies listening to us will think us somewhat psycho. Our conversations revolve around music lessons and extra tuition for our children, how homework here is inadequate and what sort of school we’ll be sending our children to once they pass through the gates of primary.
We also say to each other, “If my child misbehaves, please scold him or her.” The Asian brought up here, like most Aussie parents, would have a cow if you told their offspring off for misdemeanours.
The local way of handling schoolyard fights between children is to have a word with the offending child’s parent about the matter. The children will say sorry to each other and the issue will be dropped until it recurs. The Asian way of handling schoolyard fights is to speak to the teacher, who then speaks to the wrongdoer’s parent. If that is resolved unsatisfactorily, the matter is brought before the principal, during which time all the other Asian parents are made aware of the wrongdoer’s transgressions by the aggrieved parent.
Asian parents being Asian parents, will forbid their children from mingling with the wrongdoer, resulting in immediate ostracization on the playground. Sometimes Asian parents will bypass the teacher and simply tell others to stay away from that child.
I’ve been very lucky in that Amanda has never been that child. For the most part, I only hee-haw loudly like a donkey to other Asian parents about her laziness because it’s what we Asian parents do. To openly say that our children are smart, sassy and as talented as all the child prodigies put together is to invite others to judge our parenting and if nothing else, have us identified as braggarts and showoffs.