In a stereotyped Asian family, the father is: strict, fierce and silent. Most commonly found reading a newspaper or at the head of dining table being served food, if not then somewhere punishing his children for their results. And let us not forget the favoritism toward sons, plus expectations of his offspring to become a doctor or a lawyer.
It seems though, that mine is a father of his own kind.
- Newspapers – a big yes. I remember being constantly amazed by your total control over the thin unstapled papers, because in my tiny hands, it was an unreadable flop of mess.
- Silent? *Coughs* You are definitely more the stereotyped Asian mother – always asking after our homework, whether we have eaten and the rubbish-dump-state of my room.
- You do most of the housework, and before the years of takeaway dinners, it would 99% be you serving steaming hot food to us straight from the kitchen.
- Fierce and stern? An understatement. In fact, your intimidating aura leaves the strongest impressions on my friends. However, unlike the Internet meme “A is for Asians”, you would never discipline us for not being the best, just for not trying our best.
- Favoritism? Yeah. I mean, how should a kid feel about extra attentions given to the younger brother, and then always told “做姐姐，一定要让弟弟” (You should always ‘let’ your younger brother because you’re older)?
Then… I grew up.
- To be a doctor or a lawyer? Thank goodness it was never only about finances. Sure, there was the very long talk about how difficult life could be if I chose filmmaking, but as always, you and mum left the choice to me.
At the end of the day, just by being himself, my dad sets the standards up sky-high for me, on how to be a person, how to manage a family, and how a career should go. Summarised by his signature quote at home, “要做就要做得最好，要不然就不做”. (If you want to do it, then be the best. If not, don’t do it.)
And that is how he brings out the best of me.