Some Stories (Chop)Stick With You

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 14, 2017

This story takes place about 20 years ago. I own a small Chinese restaurant and every week on Sunday at 11:30 on the dot, a family comes in. The father is Caucasian and the mother is Chinese. Their daughter is about five or six and is one of the loudest and rambunctious children I’ve ever met.

Every Sunday without fail, they’ll come in, and the kid will make a mess, scream, etc., and the father will ask for a fork for himself and their daughter. The mother will constantly try to calm her daughter down and tell her to be a “proper lady” and tell her husband to at least attempt to use chopsticks — and usually fail to do so. It becomes a habit and I usually have to deal with this table because the kid’s such a pain that none of my servers want to deal with her.

One week, the family just stops coming. Most of us are thinking “Oh, good, no more brat.” Three months pass and the family comes back, but it’s just the father and the child.

Surprisingly, the child is very calm. In fact she orders the dishes, says please and thank you (I’d like to mention that half of our adult patrons don’t do that), and she uses chopsticks better than my eight-year-old.

After the meal the father comes up to pay for the bill. I ask him how he got his daughter to be so polite, because quite frankly it seems like a miracle.

He gives me the most forlorn look I’ve ever seen. Apparently his wife died in a car crash about three months earlier (at this point I am feeling very guilty about calling her a brat) and never came home. For some reason his daughter thought it was her fault and that because she was being naughty her mother didn’t want to come back. Even though the father said it wasn’t the case, she insisted on being a “proper lady” and got both of them to learn how to use chopsticks, “Because Ma Ma will come back if she sees how nice we are.”

After he paid for the bill I just went to the back and cried. I went home and hugged my daughter.

It’s been 20 years since then and they’re still regulars. She even has a little family of her own that she brings in. The little girl eventually realized that her mother wasn’t coming back, but was still the most polite customer I’ve ever had. I’m sure her mother would be very proud to see how well she’s grown up.

It still brings me great joy when I see the daughter teaching her own children how to use chopsticks.

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  • Dante V Wynter

    Well – crud. Now I got something in my eye.

  • Kathy B

    I’m not crying, you’re crying.

    • Jessica Marquez

      I was just about to write that… 😢😭

      • schwarherz

        Ditto

  • Alicia Stern

    I’m sure that if you ever tell her that you think her mother would be proud of her, she’d be very happy, maybe cry a bit like I am.

  • Laura Valvasori-Black

    Whoever’s chopping onions in here, please stop.

    • datawog

      Curse you, they left your place and migrated to mine.

    • Laren Dowling

      Onion ninjas.

  • I’m sorry OP but I’m going to have to send this dish back to the kitchen, there’s too many chopped onions in this Chinese food

    • Flami

      Bonus points if they’re chopped green onions!

  • Fenn

    Who left these onions here?
    That poor girl, I’m sure she’s a wonderful mother now.

  • Flami

    That’s awesome! Who made me have this feeling in my throat?!

  • Choking up right before bed…THIS should help me sleep.

    • Beins Jared

      A good sob before sleeping can be nice sometimes.

      In fact, I once sobbed in a dream the other day. I woke confused and sad for a bit. o:

  • Rachel Schmachel

    Am I the only one to find that last sentence disturbing?

    • Kitty

      Why? It’s a decent skill to have.

      • Rachel Schmachel

        Mum tries to teach kid to use chopsticks and kid refuses. Mum dies and kid learns to use chopsticks to bring her back. Kid teaches own kids to use chopsticks. I’m certain I’m over thinking it, but the last sentence almost came with a feeling that if the kid teaches her own kids to eat with chopsticks, then maybe she won’t die.

        • Serabeth

          I don’t see it that way at all. She was a child at the time, and trying to cope with her mother’s death. Now, she is likely just trying to keep her mother’s heritage alive and pass on some of that culture to her own children.

        • Megan

          Yeah I think you read waaaaay too much into it there.

          • Rachel Schmachel

            Not if you read it with foreboding music over the ending…

        • Flami

          Wrong. She’s teaching her own kids the skill that she learned herself as a kid. Nothing wrong with that.

        • Where does the story say that the kid refuses to use chopsticks?

          • Rachel Schmachel

            That’s a good question. I think the story implies it, but as you can see, I have an active imagination.

          • Good answer. Since the story doesn’t contradict you, I’ll give you that one.

        • dave

          You are certainly entitled to your interpretation, but the way I read it is she wishes her mother could have seen her learn to behave, and she is making damn sure *her* kids will learn to behave while she is alive to teach them, because of how happy it would have made Grandma.

  • Kitty

    Awww. They say good things come out of bad things, but why does the death of a parent have to be the bad thing?

  • Boots

    Lying in bed now trying to get my rambunctious 3yo to sleep. He’s just dropped off and I know I should get up and finish off all the stuff I need to do.

    I think I’ll just lie here and cuddle him a little longer… My eyes seem blurry and my heart wants to hold him just that little bit tighter.

  • Cléa Decker

    “I’m not crying ! I have something in my eyes…”
    “What’s it ?”
    “TEARS !”

  • NatesMama1128

    What a lovely but sad story. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Serabeth

    Wow :(. Normally, I’m fairly neutral to most of these stories. They might make me smile or laugh a bit, but most don’t invoke a reaction like this one did. I’m so sorry that little girl lost her mother. I know her mother would be very proud of the woman she’s grown into, and that she’s passing on some of her mother’s culture to her kids. It must be great to get families that are regulars and watch everyone grow. This is too sweet; I didn’t mean to start crying.

  • Jen Harper

    Well this just ruined my day. 😭😭😭

  • minipopcorn

    Oh man, that is heavy. She realized mom wasn’t coming back, but I hope she also realized it wasn’t her fault.

  • Patrick Mccurry

    Ouch. I didn’t start reading this story expecting it to relate so well to my experiences.
    I was a school skipping ultra lazy child right before my father died. I was 13 and knew it had nothing to do with me, but just knowing that the last weeks of his life, I was acting such a turd will always hurt.

  • “Because Ma Ma will come back if she sees how nice we are.”

    That’s right where it really got me. I mean, it got me before that, but that’s where I kinda winced.

  • Got something in my eye…

  • Jenna

    Blooming heck I wasn’t expecting that! Heartbreaking 😭