People often ask what it’s like to grow up with parents who aren’t American. I start to laugh because only now, since becoming a grown-up with my own family to manage, am I starting to see some of the hilarious differences between the way my parents handle everyday life and the way I see it.
1. My mom has a dishwasher, but I’m pretty sure she’s never used it. “Vy do I need dat machine to do dis? I can do it better.” Yes, mom, but you can also save water which means you can have a lower water bill. “You do vat you vant, I said no.”
2. Almost out of soap? No, you’re not! Like fish and loaves, the dish soap is always magically full. Almost out? Never fear! Nothing adding 8 ounces of water can’t change!
3. Washing plastic bags. Sigh. Anything bigger than a snack size gets at least on do-over. “Vy vaste it?” I just hope that the soap isn’t on its 4th fill-up.
4. The phone always on the charger. Always. Why is the cell phone just sitting on the charger? All. The. Time. I’ve tried to explain that you shouldn’t do that, but I was quickly put in my place and reminded that in the case of an emergency that they will need a full battery and I’ll be the one who’s sorry.
5. The house is beyond clean. The house has permanently etched vacuum lines, yet my mom still thinks the house is dirty. Also, if I move that chair even two inches, I won’t hear the end of it.
6. I hope you’re hungry because if you come to my parents house and only eat one serving, you’ve not only insulted my mother, but her entire country as well. You will die by questions. “Vat, you don’t like my food? Vy you no eat more? You know, I made this sausage vith my own hands. I had to hunt dat animal down for three days in the voods by myself. Croatia is known for this dish. Vy you no eat again? Don’t be shy, I give you food. Give me your plate.”
With that in mind, I hope you like moonshine because my dad always has some. “Dis is from Croatia. Vant to try? Just von shot. C’mon, try. I said try. Dis is the good stuff. You can’t find dis in the store.”
7. I hope you’re not a vegetarian. I’m pretty sure my parents thought it was a sign of evil possession up until the early 2000’s. I’ve cut down my red meat intake drastically. Actually, I’ve stopped eat
ing it entirely and I can see my mom’s sideway glances as I type this. I hear the whispers to my dad, the worrying about my health, and I know she’s praying for me at night. I try to explain to them I can get the protein elsewhere, but so far I haven’t been able to convince them.
8. My family has at least two or three computers lying around. Just in case. Even if the oldest computer can’t turn on anymore because it’s running MS-DOS. I try to clean my parents house, yet I’m warned about identity theft if I get rid of the computer. I try to explain it’s useless and no one wants my old papers from college, but my mother is convinced that paper could lead to credit card theft and the demise of what I know as life.
9. A perk of growing up in my immigrant family that I’ve learned to imitate their accent. Better yet, I find I can’t even talk about them without saying it in an accent. I perfected it when I was kid and still use it in the stores when I need something and the kids are creating a sense of urgency.
10. Lastly, my favorite thing about growing up in an immigrant’s home is when they take in my children anytime I ask, make food when I’m sick, come over and help me clean, and lastly, treat me like a kid when I need it. My parents may be my version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” but I wouldn’t change a thing.