The children of immigrants don’t get to be children.
We lose our innocence watching our parents’ backs bend, break.
I am an old soul because when I was young,
I watched my parents’ spirits get slaughtered, broken.
Childhood is a luxury my family cannot afford.
Their dignity is not spared,
my innocence is ignored.

Humiliated and traumatized daily,
I’ve become a nurse to their trauma.
Told too much,
know too much.
So, I am wise beyond my years.

They say,
“a wall built so thick and cold,
around your inner you,
that hides your feelings, keeps your soul,
so sadly, out of view”.

I exist somewhere between
amicably mysterious and irrevocably dorky.
Led by a script or a view of life.
Seen through blue-eyed, pale skinned figures …
greeted in hallways, but never invited to their beer-drenched parties.
Never experiencing the highs and lows of high school,
but most definitely not the highs, the smoke hazed plumes of highs.

I will never play Spin the Bottle.
I will never play Seven Minutes in Heaven.
My mother tells me she is protecting me from boys,
but the hidden truth is,
after I do my homework,
I’m brought back to another reality.
My parent’s alternative world, so different from mine.
Sat in front of a document brought from the adult world,
she wants me to type up another family friend’s
resume or resignation letter.

At home I am a bridge,
a cultural interpreter,
a spokesperson,
a trusted ally,
an Australian who is Vietnamese too,
but too foreign for the Australians,
and too Australian for my own.
I do not have generational wealth,
but rather generational trauma.
Truly two worlds apart
hard to come to a middle ground.

What do you do when a home crumbles,
but the house still stands?
A home is a heartbeat.
A pair of hands.
But not in this one.
So, Mother, how truly alive can I be
when I’m living with ghosts that are called family.

I am labelled a child of grief.
And I know I am strong enough
to do this life alone if I have to because
I’m my Mother’s child.
I was born with the world on my shoulders where
love was driven by hate
and a hate also driven by love.
So, Mother, don’t be afraid that I’m growing up now
because I’m more grown than you think.
I’m my Mother’s daughter.