Meet the parents

I've always found it a bit nerve-wracking to meet a girlfriend's parents for the first time, and especially when they are from another country. I first met MrsB's parents one Mid-Autumn festival, several years ago. The idea was that if we met them at a family dinner, I could see the whole family in one go. Given that with all the brothers, sisters, wives, husbands and children it adds up to 25+ people, that seemed like an efficient way to get things done. Plus, there would be plenty of people to restrain the father if he decided no gweilo was going to be seeing any daughter of his.

As we walked up the road to her Sister's house, two of her neices on the balcony saw us, and we heard them announce excitedly to the people inside "Here comes [MrsB] ..... and there's a GWEILO with her !!!".

At which point I asked MrsB if :

A : They knew I was coming along

B : They knew she had a boyfriend

"No" to both ? I see. Then I'm going to be chopped into small pieces and fed to the village dogs....

In fact there weren't any major disasters, knives remained in the kitchen, and I was allowed to return. Looking back on it ...

- The element of surprise worked out ok. If they'd known I was coming there would have been lots of gossiping, and sides would have been taken before I arrived.

- Big family gatherings are good. Better to be lost in a swirl of family business than sat with just you, partner, and the two parents in a frosty silence.

- Learn to eat fast, or have a snack before you arrive. One thing that a big family encourages is survival of the fittest, and food on the table doesn't last long .

- Bring gifts ! Very important to be a show your manners as a guest (though in practice this meant that when Mum-in-law said "thankyou", there'd be a whisper from MrsB telling me what "I" had bought !)

- Work out who is important. MrsB's dad never really seemed to approve of me being around, but Mum was the more important person and as long as she liked me, all was well. Then there are one or two brothers/sisters that rule the roost, so they should be kept happy too.

- Cantonese goes down well, of course.

- You'll definitely screw-up somewhere along the line, so ... relax, take a big breath, and Smile !