Our son got heartburn when we treated him to Indian food to remind him of home cooking since he had been living in Canada alone for a year.
My wife pushed tiny white pills in his hand that she had picked up from a very dusty alternative medicine shop in a crowded market in Delhi.
The medical name on the bottle rhymed with vomit. “Take these every few minutes till you feel better,” she told him.
Like most Asian parents, my wife firmly believes in alternative and homeopathic medicine and her bulging purse on most days is packed with tiny pill bottles that cure about any ailment that can strike a human being.
Still, we carried enough allopathic medicine with us from Bengaluru, India, to cure an army hit by a mysterious alien disease. “The Canadian customs will think we are fake drug smugglers and that we made these in the toilet in our spare time,” I protested to my wife, when she shoved a ton of medicine strips into my carry baggage.
“Tell them you are a hypochondriac and need all these medicines,” said my wife. She said she was doing this to save us money as drugs are expensive in Canada and because Canadian doctors do not know anything about medicine and never prescribe antibiotics.
Asian parents love their offspring to death and are guilty of helicopter parenting, stalking their children every moment of their lives, deciding what they will study, what professions they should follow, and even whom they will marry and live with the rest of their lives.
A few years after we were married, my wife said seriously that we should build a home and give each one of our sons a floor. (Thankfully, the concept of joint families is slowly dying in the Arab World and Asia, and TV shows about toxic families is a forgotten, horrible past).
“Where will we stay?” I asked her.
She said, “A block away.”
“But, that would be like Raymond’s mother across the street,” I said, and luckily my wife was not aware of the hilarious TV soap about an Italian family in America and a domineering mother.
You can see the making of an Asian child in Dubai. Every morning, mothers carry huge school bags to save their children from back pain, as they shove their sleepy children into the school bus. Some mums even do their projects and every exam time, both the children and the mothers have to be treated for stress and anxiety.
We were walking with a Canadian couple in a park the other day and we saw a line of children zooming past on hover boards that were popular in Dubai a few years ago. Behind them followed a hijab covered mother carrying four water bottles for her children.
If you are a Chinese child, you may be a virtuoso on a violin or a whizz in computer programming, but we know how you got there, with discipline and regimentation that started as soon as you landed off the boat, so to speak.
Yale law professor Amy Chua, known for her work on globalisation and free market democracy, has also written a provocative memoir about parenting her two daughters, titled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
Some of the rules of the Tiger mothers so that children grow up slower are, “No boyfriends. No sleepovers. Total respect for parents. Daily drilling in math and Chinese when they’re little.”
Our son is becoming more independent, moving out from the university residence into a private apartment with some fellow students. My wife tried bribery: “Can we take your friends out to dinner to meet them.”
“I have found an Indian lady who will make home-cooked food and deliver,” she told him.
Our son said, “No thanks” to both suggestions.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India.