Toy Dog

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Whenever I think about the struggles I face in daily life, it reminds me of this 1980s toy dog. When my parents arrived in the US, as refugees of the genocide in Cambodia, it was not surprising that all they had with them were the clothes on their backs. To say that they started off poor in this country is an understatement; so when their 3 year old son, my eldest brother, asked for a toy dog, the only thing that he had ever asked for, my parents tried desperately to get one for him. The only problem was: the toy dog cost ten dollars, which was far beyond what my family could afford. When they told him this, he seemed to fully understand the situation, despite being only three years of age. My mother told me that not being able to afford that toy was one of the most difficult periods of her life. She was pregnant with a second child, only spoke a few words of English, and spent her days cleaning houses, and yet, was still unable to even buy a single toy for her child. Soon after the baby was born, as my parents were digging through the church donations bins for new-used clothing, a tiny miracle happened; they found that same toy dog amongst the donations. Although it was a little dirty, my mom brought it home, cleaned it up and on Christmas morning gave it to my brother, who responded: “It’s okay, Ma, I don’t need this toy. My little brother can have it, because babies need toys. I’m big now.”At the time, my eldest brother was 4.

Year: 1983

– Joseph Ngo

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant