Originally posted on Medium.
A stranger stops my mother as she carries me across the UW campus.
“Did you get the baby from Korea?”
“No… I made it myself.”
When my mother picks me up from daycare, the other kids tell me that I’m adopted. I try to argue with them, but they won’t listen to me.
My sixth grade classmates switch to Chinese whenever I walk near them. I know that they speak English more fluently; this is just to drive the point home.
Although he was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, my father started school without knowing a word of English. Scarred by years of intense bullying, he never taught me Cantonese. 11 years old and desperate to fit in, I’m oblivious to the irony of resenting him for it.
“Mixed children are always the most beautiful.”
I’m not sure why my guidance counselor is telling me this, or what it has to do with approving my class schedule.
My mother and I are in line at the grocery store, stealing some time together while I’m home from college. The Asian woman behind us accosts my mother, offended that she is wearing Chinese jade. My mother explains that it was a gift from my grandmother, a family heirloom. The woman doesn’t seem to care.
I’m on vacation with my family, enjoying a brief respite from grad school. The clerk at the ice cream shop tries to take my father’s order with the Asian 20-somethings standing next us, skipping past me, my mother, and my brother.
Eventually she realizes her mistake and blushes.
She doesn’t apologize.