why i hate my nationality and bad parenting

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a story of my life with my mother in vietnam

Submitted: June 10, 2016

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Submitted: June 10, 2016



A Story on Why I hate my Nationality and Bad Parenting


I am currently finishing my eleventh year in High School. I am a seventeen-year-old boy. I have a passion for arts and have completed six major artworks this year despite not being part of the art class. I have been living in Vietnam for six years now and frankly I fucking hate my experience here, ever since I came my life has been turned upside down. It was unbearable living here, the conditions, the heat, the extended family. I am a Vietnamese person by blood but have always identified with Germany, as my hometown, as my birthplace, the place where my small family was and where I grew up in. This is not a tourist review, despite my experience, there are many attractions I would urge you to visit such as the mountainous region of Sapa, the stunning waters at Ha Long Bay and the whole cultural package in a visit to the capital of Hanoi, where in fact my story is situated.

I write this now, in anger, sorrow and a fading hope of my future as these emotions have stricken me for such a long time that I feel my situation will not be better. Since my parents divorced when I was seven, I live alone with my mother. We rented a small apartment in a small town. However, she soon found no reason to stay in Germany any longer. The school in the area, which I attended only provided courses until the fifth grade. My mother’s brother and sister who had been staying with us had now finished their college education and were returning to the home country. With these things set in place, my mother had no reason to stay any longer and near my eleventh birthday, I was asked “Would you rather move to Hiddensee (A town in central south Germany) and to return to Vietnam?”. I told my mother that I never wanted to leave Germany, if we had to we should go to Hiddensee, after all that was where my German family advised us to visit.

My German family was an elderly couple who raised me until I was four since my mother was too busy to take care of me and only slowly getting used to the scene in Germany. I would stay with them when my mum is not able to take care of me. I went to a German school, a German “Hort” which I would go to after school until five in the afternoon. My German Family, now only my aunt Marie as they too divorced, would live close by, as such I would go there after Hort. I would either stay there or my mum would pick me up to go home. Most of my time I would spend in a German social exposure.

However, there were some memorable moments at home too. Such as when I asked to go sleepover at a friend’s house but I got smacked in the face because it was not an appropriate time to ask since my father had friends over. Another instance that whenever I made a mistake I would be locked in the bathroom for a few hours and then I had to apologize. This was before my parent’s divorce. After two years of the divorce, my mother met my stepdad. Who was German Doctor in the area. This gave me some happy moments in life, thinking back about our vacation in Sweden and playing with my step brother. However, my mother never wanted to return, and he too I never saw or heard of again.

My first visit to Vietnam, I got bit by some insect and was in the hospital for three weeks. This made my eyes and ears swell. I described this trip to my classmates as Vietnam is hot and dirty. My mother scolded me on this saying that I am Vietnamese and I should never say anything bad about where I am from. I quickly realized that I had no position, nationality wise. In my town in Germany, I was the only Asian kid in my class. They called me a “nigger” because that’s what they would call people who were not white. They did not know any better. On the bus one day, a group of boys started teasing me for no apparent reason. They said we Asians were all “ching-chong monkeys” and that we were “dog eaters”. I told him that I would find him and eat his dog. From that day, I never took the bus again and instead would walk a few miles to get home.

In Vietnam it was not much different, my Vietnamese was not good since I never used it outside the household. But different to many Vietnamese children that live in foreign countries, I could read and write in Vietnamese. In Vietnam, people asked “you are not from here” or said “he cannot speak Vietnamese” just because of my accent. The kids at my new school called me a “nazi” or “hitler” when they knew I was from Germany. I never really found a set footing on where I belong, as to Vietnamese people I would say I am from Germany, to Germans I would say I am Vietnamese. Nowadays I would have to say it the long way that I was a Vietnamese by blood who lived in Germany for most of my life.

Coming to Vietnam, my mother said this would be a learning experience. She was keen on making me more aware of my roots. She never wanted to hear the words that I hated being a Vietnamese, keeping my middle name as my Vietnamese name to prevent me from losing my roots. In fact, I was named Viet after Vietnam. However, as I grew older I hated staying here, the Vietnamese relationship dynamics and culture.

I hated the food here, it is misleading that we eat rice noodles and spring rolls. Most of the time the set up for a meal is some meat, rice, vegetable, vegetables and something sour. I hate this set up as everyone shares the food, as the only child I would have to eat the most despite already eating a lot. How much you eat is measured by bowls of rice and you would just keep eating unlike having set out portions in Germany. People also open their mouths while chewing and grab food for each other with the same chopsticks. I hated this as it seemed unhygienic and degrading as I could just as well grab it myself. It was also extremely hot that I was always sticky, so were other people and touching was uncomfortable. My first year in Vietnam I caught a fever 4 times and food poisoning 3 times. I also sat in front the fridge every time when I got home.

In Vietnam you are expected to perform well in school, this meant going to college, and how many chance you have in the future. Kids would stay in school until 9pm and just study with no end. These kids were frail. I too succumb to this pressure but as an only child I would be expected to take care of my mother in the future, to do all chores, take care of everyone and everything. This pressure would break me down at times when there is too much on my shoulders. How my mother supports me through it does not help me very much.

I do recognize that Vietnam is a developing country and that they still hold on to some old values such as being gay is a disease, a girl is someone who is easy to raise and does house chores and that the boy is the man of the house. As an only child to a mother, I was tasked with everything, being the outlet of her stress. She would scratch and hit me with long objects to teach me a lesson. She would say she would die of stress if am not being obedient, threatening me with her life. She would call me stupid several times a week in response to bringing the dog’s food bowl in the house or not being able to find the other slipper. This was not a motivator now that the workload is increasing, when I brought back the principles award (the highest award for a good GPA) she told me I can do well in school but in life I am still stupid. I always felt that I could go nowhere in life as she would often say that I don’t know anything and that I would have no certainty of a job as of yet. To add to her lack of someone who gives motivation, I am expected to clean the house on a daily, if I do not do something that should have been done I get scolded. She expects me to know what to on my own.

Even after all that she seems to never be content with me, as I am not allowed to hold my hands in front of my pelvis, to bend my knees in feminine ways and having to swing my arms as homosexuality is still regarded as a disease that could happen to people. I am afraid to waste her money as she would always remind me of the value of the money she raised, how much money my education cost and will. The tone that she speaks to me has never been understanding, more of a dictator then anything. And now that we have a new stepdad once again who is old and gets a privilege of doing less housework, we end up kissing his ass, one more person take care of.

Despite that the lesson to be learned is that you should not pressure your child too much at once. It was not almost like this for me but I recognize that I am soon leaving to college so my mother wants to prepare me for it. It is often best to let your child develop on their own and help them on the way, especially when a drastic change in their life is taking place so that they have energy to go through with their goals. For me I gave up a possible career In arts to pay her back in becoming a doctor as well as helping the people around me. 

© Copyright 2018 Thomas Duong. All rights reserved.

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