Starting the Weekend

Cheers to weekends…

I had lunch with my dad yesterday. We went to a Vietnamese Pho Restaurant where I attempted the heroic feat of finishing an extra large bowl if chicken Pho. I always come close, but never manage to scarf an entire bowl in its entirety. Well in any event, I’ve been talking about this whole cultural competency issue, and it has been discussed at length on the K@W Listserv. It hit me again, (and it always does for that matter), growing up with my family and how we would often go out to eat at restaurants. From an early age I recall going and being completely paranoid about what others thought of us. And it wasn’t a completely unbased fear, because more often than not I would look around and see other tables looking our direction with puzzled expressions on their faces. Sometimes I feel oversensitive to these issues, but from seeing others on the listserv discuss this sort of topic at more length I have given it more thought. When my dad and I were out at lunch I could see just about every table looking at us. Throughout the meal I couldn’t completely concentrate because I could feel piercing stares from all directions of the restaurant.

It’s never been something I’ve felt completely comfortable about, and sometimes what makes it worse is when servers or waiters ask about our family. I mean I can understand, two older white people with Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and Korean kids at a table makes for excellent tip conversation fodder. And while this sort of conversation very rarely is brought up and (furthermore seems to only rear its nasty head at Asian restaurants), it’s aways in the back of my mind. My entire life (correction: my entire childhood) I’ve had to explain our family and how we came to be. Sometimes when I was young I could get away with having one of my parents pick me up from school and in my mind rationalize that others would understand that if I had a white parent, I must be biracial (Even though I’m probably as fully Korean looking as it gets).

For the past 5 years or so living on my own I’ve come to take this sort of thing for granted-that is, being able to go to restaurants with my friends, or my partner without ever having to think twice about others starring. But every so often I’ll meet up with my family or parents at a restaurant to catch up on what I’ve been up to, and like clock-work, the feelings flood back. I try to block them out because I almost feel sort of guilty for feeling embarrassed by the situation sometimes, but they always surface no matter how much I try. The feelings are fleeting as one meeting with my parents comes and goes and I’m thrown back into the normalcy of my daily routine. Thought I’d share that today in the hopes that other KADs and TRAs can identify with even just a piece of how I feel. I’m not completely proud of how I feel, but I know it can’t be helped at this point. Anyone else have similar experiences or feelings?


3 Comments on “Starting the Weekend

  1. I’ve felt that way on numerous occasions. Not really as a child though because i just think it’s more obvious when you are a child with white parents, that you are adopted. But then again i never went to Asian restaurants as a child. But now I notice it a lot, people staring and trying to figure out the “situation”, and I do get embarassed. Not because I’m embarassed they are my parents and are white but rather of all the things the people staring are thinking. And like you, I feel bad about it because I know I shouldn’t be. Maybe I subconsciously steer clear of Asian restaurants when i’m with my parents because I KNOW it will be uncomfortabe. But even in Western restaurants the waiter will always ask if we want two bills, because they assume I am unrelated to my parents. It’s frustrating. I wish people would just understand.

  2. Thanks for the comment Caitlin. I remember one time my sister was hospitalized for an accident, and my mom and I were in the room talking to her when a doctor came in. The doctor just assumed that I was my mom’s husband and asked me if I was the husband…because it was too hard for him to believe that I was the son of her….ugh

  3. Ugh, I’ve weird things like that happen to me, waiters in restaurants mistaking me for my brother’s girlfriend or on one occasion, my dad’s. Ick.

    It’s always been in the back of my mind, but I didn’t really become conscious of it or really acknowledge it until I became and adult. I notice other people’s reactions a lot more and probably have become a bit over-sensitive to it.

    You’re definitely not alone in this. I’ve heard the similar things from tons of other TRAs. Of course, there’s the flipside, too. A Korean friend of mine mentioned that some people assume she’s adopted when she’s with her fiance and his family. Go figure.

    Maybe we should just all wear t-shirts.

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