“Hello, Mr. K. This is Mrs. Jones calling. Can you come in to school for a parent/teacher interview?”
“No. Is not possible.”
Well, okay then. His daughter was an honor student. No need really to meet with the parents, but still …
The next day, L handed me a note. It was an invitation for me and my family to dine at her father’s restaurant on Sunday evening.
“You eat Korean before?” Mr. K asked as the hostess seated us at a table.
He took the menus away. “I bring. You eat.” And eat we did. A delicious array of new tastes and smells.
After the meal Mr. K pulled up a chair. “My kids. They look in mirror all day. Go to movies. Wear jeans. Makeup. No work.”
“But, Mr. K,” I said. “L is an honors student. Her marks are all in the 90s.”
“Bah! Why not 100%? When I come to Canada I work many years in tar sands. Finally, I have enough money. Come here. Open Taekwondo club. Then restaurant. My kids. No work. No speak Korean. No want to go back visit family.” Dramatic gestures accompanied his words. Sounds of disgust punctuated his sentences.
“But, Mr. K, your kids are great students. L and her brother have good marks. They work hard.”
And that was pretty much the end of the interview. I learned later that L’s brother contemplated suicide. Fortunately, he never acted on it. Both L and her brother went on to be successful professionals, but I’m guessing Mr. K would have still had doubts about his children.