It’s not easy to fully give credit where it’s due. And sometimes, it really is easier to understand once I’m older. Parents have to be open enough to realize their kids don’t have the capacity in their emotions to understand what they have done. Kids have to be open minded enough to empathize with their parents regarding their decisions.
My family is different. We’ve come a very, very long way to get where we are today.
In the early 1990s, my parents fled in the middle of the night on a boat in Vietnam, destination set for the Philippines. A week long, they sailed through days and nights on open water. I don’t know how they did it. Stories tell of people whowent crazy, people died. My parents survived. They took refuge at poor conditioned camps in the Philippines.
My parents learned their trade at the camp. My dad took up goldsmithing. My mom studied languages and learned how to sew. Because of corruption within the administrators of the refugee camps, funds that were donated weren’t delivered to the cause of helping the Vietnamese refugees.
In 1994, my parents have already met each other in the refugee camps. I was born in the camps, surrounded by a knit of refugee community. They took care of me.
We were in Philippines for almost 15 years. My parents have since ran away from their refugee camps. I remember being left at home alone at 5 years old; my parents were out selling household items on the streets. I remember our house flooding and I jumped around on top of the furniture as if playing a game. The electricity cut out again, we pulled out chairs to stargaze at the night outside; we had hand fans to fan each other and many candles to light the way.
In 2004, we lived in a one bedroom. We had a small outdoor kitchen. We washed all our laundry with our hands. I walked to school, though whenever I have a few extra pesos, I would rice a tricycle to school. Our small knit Vietnamese community took care of each other, and built our life on relaxation and hard work.
In 2005, December, we arrived to a small apartment in the United States. I missed my friends in the Philippines, I might never see them again. Iowa was cold and lonely. Employers had taken advantage of my parents, paying them below minimum wage because they didn’t know better. My parents moved our family through several unstable cities, states, work, and school.
In the next decade, my parents became tired of working for demanding employers and unsatisfying jobs, they set out their path to accomplished what they needed to do for their children. They have moved, built up their small business, forged their path to take care of their four children. My parents rarely stopped working, but I can’t blame them as they’re doing this for us. We have been taking more vacations the past year, and I’m hoping to take plenty more as my parents deserve them.
Today? In 2017, my parents have built up a thriving small business, are homeowners, own four cars, and have enough to care for their four children. We take small trips once in awhile to hang out as a family.
I admire their resilience and ability to thrive. It takes a lot of courage to leave your country, your family, and life in search for a future that they didn’t know was there. It is terrifying to go through the displacement from political unrest. I’m not sure if I could do that myself. My heart goes out to those who are fleeing their home in search of refuge.
Everyone appreciates their parents at points in their lives, perhaps some more than others. I’m fortunate enough to learn how to appreciate them early versus later.
What are some of your thoughts and feelings about being a parent or child?