Theresa Nguyen (TN) and Stephanie Nguyen (SN)
TN: Many times when I look back on your upbringing, if I had to do it again, a couple of things I would have changed.
SN: What would you do differently?
TN: I would be a little more compromising. Remember some boy gave you a necklace?
SN: And you made me go back to school the next day and give him back the locket.
TN: OK, I was taught from my mom do not accept presents from strangers. Because if you accept presents from them you have to repay them; it’s a debt you have to carry to your grave.
TN: So, so things like that I would go back and I would be a little more understanding. I might ask to go swap it out for something cheaper.
TN: Most of your friends are Vietnamese too, right? And, um, I don’t know if you ever compare if your mommy is tougher than mine?
SN: I don’t even know where to start with that…um…when you’re 12, and your whole world revolves around who got to sleep over at whoever’s house it’s not fun to say, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that.’
TN: I know a lot of times I am living in this country trying to acculturate, but at the same time I want to preserve the Asian culture. I want to keep the family together. And sometimes when I look back I…I do realize that I was a little bit too tough.
SN: I wouldn’t say that I resent you in any way for that. I think I learned a very strong sense of right and wrong and working hard.
TN: I know many, many times I’m very proud of you but I just don’t say it. And Daddy gets on my case all the time: ‘You don’t say it, you don’t say it’. And I would tell him, ‘But she knows I feel it!’ I don’t know if you do know or not?
SN: I’m glad that you’re proud of me because most of the time I feel like I’m a disappointment.
TN: No you are not! I am just one of those old Asian moms. We never say we love you! We expect you to see it through our actions. But I’m learning, I’m learning. When I go away from this life, I want you to remember my love for you, that’s all. I don’t care for anything else.