The Leftover Parents

My seven-year-old nephew is getting used to having his dad finishing up his food for him. Whether a plate of cold pasta or a bowl of mushy phở, his dad took it all in. The other day, he had two bites left from his spring roll and yet he did not want to finish it because he wanted to play on his iPad with my kids. I told him Đạo and Đán would wait for him and the iPad would wait for him. He just needed to finish up two bites, but he refused and his dad let him off the table.

This weekend, my wife made delicious dumpling noodles. He ate all the dumplings and half of the noodle. His dad was not there so he asked him mom to finish it. Unlike his dad, his mom would never eat his leftover. She told him, “If you can’t finish it, give it to grandma.” My mother-in-law refused not because she didn’t want to, but she was also trying to finish her own bowl.

I said to him, “You can finish it. There’s not that much left.” He looked angry. I handed him my bowl and said, “Why don’t you finish mine and I’ll finish yours.” He shook his head. I went on, “So you don’t want to eat my leftover, but you expect others to eat yours?” He began to sob his mom came over to calm him down, “That’s OK if you can’t finish it.” She took the bowl and dumped the rest into the trash can.

My wife gave me a look for making him cry. I was just trying to teach him about not wasting food. I did not feel bad for him at all, but I did feel bad for my wife. She took her time to made the noodle soup for everyone. Đạo and Đán helped wrapping the dumplings.

This issue can be easily avoidable if parents just give their kids a small portion first. If they didn’t have enough, they can ask for more. I lived in Vietnam and witnessed first hand how hungry children eating strangers’ leftovers at phở places. It broke my heart and irritated me to see this kind of behavior from Asian-American kids.

Vietnamese parents, please make your kids finish their own fucking food.