In my family, every once in a while, Joe might irritate the hell out of Michelle, Jane and Michelle might fight over who should fill the gas tank of the car they share or Jake might get annoyed at everyone. But most of the time, we get along pretty well because we like one another and enjoy each other’s company. Now that everyone is home, dinner becomes more fun with all of us sitting around the table, chatting and laughing.

I needed to be in downtown Chicago to attend a meeting with one of our vendors on Thursday when I normally take Jake to his Tae Kwon Do lesson. So Jane agreed to take him on Wednesday. I texted her the address the day before. At 5:30 pm on Wednesday, my cell rang.

“Mom, I’ve been calling you over and over, but you wouldn’t pick up. You gave me the wrong address! I’ve been driving around for almost an hour … my car is low on gas … Jake isn’t going to his class today!” Jane sounded upset on the other end.

“It’s the right address … I took it from the website …” I was confused.

“My GPS has led to a gardening shop. The address is obviously wrong. We’re coming home!”

I was in the kitchen when they got back. Jake walked in with a serious and distressed look on his face.

“Mom, I need to tell you something …” He held my cheeks with both his hands and whispered into my ears. “Jane called you a stupid idiot.”

“Really? I’m a stupid idiot now?”

“She used those two words in two different sentences though …”

“That makes me feel a little better. Thank you, baby!”

Just a few days before, Michelle got really mad at Joe and me. Although she didn’t really say those two words, she slammed the door to make her feelings known.

About a month ago, we were checking to make sure that everyone had the passport for traveling to Cancun, but Michelle’s was missing from the pile. Joe remembered that she had taken hers to her former employer and hadn’t brought it back.

Michelle promised to stop by her old job and ask the boss lady about it. Last Sunday, a week before our trip, I reminded her again. “Michelle, have your got your passport back?”

“My boss said she had given it back to me after making a copy of it.”

“So you don’t know where your passport is?” I became anxious.

“I DON’T know!”

“YOU can’t go to Cancun without your passport.” My voice was raised.

When I mentioned to Joe that Michelle hadn’t located her passport yet, he was annoyed. Seeing Michelle lying on the sofa texting didn’t help.

“Michelle, we asked you about your passport a month ago, but you still haven’t found it. If you don’t have your passport, you aren’t going to Cancun with us, period!”

“OKAY! I’ll look for it!” Michelle’s voice cracked.

“We absolutely don’t want to leave Michelle behind. I’ve heard of people who paid a ton of money to get the passport next day. We may have to do that because it doesn’t look like she knows where it is. But Michelle will have to contribute to at least part of the expenses.” I thought to myself.

Just at that moment, Joe walked towards me with a stack of passports in his hand, and a smile that I was very familiar with.

“You found it?” I inquired cautiously.

He nodded.

“Michelle, we found your passport!” I shouted towards the upstairs.

“So I DID give it back to you!” Michelle slammed her door really hard.

“Where did you find it?” I asked Joe.

“In my study room in one of the bins.”

“You probably took it from her and then forgot. You should apologize to Michelle.”

“Why should I? She should have remembered if she had handed it to me.”

Chinese parents don’t apologize. It’s not in our culture.

Michelle came downstairs, put on her sneakers and left. She told me she was going to Lifetime on her way out.

I apologized to her via a text message.

When I was with my Poets’ and Writers’ group on Wednesday evening, Jane sent her apology saying she was sorry for calling me ‘stupid and idiot’. She’d take Jake to Tae Kwon Do again the next day.

I said it was no problem.

We aren’t a perfect family by any means. Life tends to get messy from time to time. We have no control over that, but we do have control over how we react and our willingness to fix things when they go wrong. To that end, thank goodness for electronic devices which make it so much easier for Asian parents to say ‘sorry’, something hard for us to do in person.

We’ve just arrived in Cancun and settled down in our rooms. Summer has officially started for the Xus. We are going to have a blast under the sun!