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My Son, the Ingrate
by Walt Giersbach

Under a proposed law, China’s Civil Affairs Ministry would require adult children to regularly visit their elderly parents. If they do not, parents can sue them.
            --New York Times, Jan. 30, 2011

You’d think my son, Jing Jun, would care enough to visit his 80-year-old mother and me. On my one day off from the railroad where I inspect rail spikes, Mei-Fun makes special dishes like pork tripe and we put out little glasses of mao tai and light incense at the altar.

But it never fails  We get a telephone call that Jing Jun is too busy surfing the Internet thing or doing that texting thing or doing spreadsheets for his big bank employer. 

“Sorry, Ma, I’m too busy to see you this week,” he says. “And maybe next week too if my girlfriend isn’t working overtime making little toys for McDonald’s Happy Meals.”

What kind of son is that? A son has a filial duty. We saved so long to have a son. We gave up three daughters to Americans from Beverly Hills before we got a son under the rationing system, No Boys Left Behind. Finally, a fortune cookie told me, “Try one more time, Big Guy. Maybe lucky.” 

I am so mad I am going to sue Jing Jun. Maybe a little hard time in a re-education camp or a taste of prison food would make him appreciate his parents’ sacrifice. Maybe he’ll remember the water buffalo we bought for his 13th birthday. He will say, “Oh, I am so sorry, Ma. Forgive me.”

Wait. I hear him now. His very big footsteps like an elephant. They’re coming down the stairs. “Jing Jun,” I shout. “Stop and talk. Very important.”

“Sorry, Pops,” he shouts, passing me. “Gotta run. Big date. Give me a call.”

You think maybe a 45-year-old son could visit his mother and me? I mean, him living upstairs rent-free. It’s time to call my lawyer.