The Law Says Call Yer Ma

How other countries handle family caregiving is often in the news. Especially if it’s shocking…as in the case of China and India. Dak Gustal approaches the issues with his usual flair.

By Dak Gustal

Why would a country want to make a law that says children have to take care of their parents?

I was just reading this article about two giant countries in Asia doing just that. Apparently the children are so negligent, the parents are suing them for weekly phone calls. Can you imagine talking to someone who was only talking to you because the law required it?

I guess it might be something like talking to your teenager: Boy, 15, comes through front door, abandons shoes and backpack in the middle of the room, raids fridge and attempts to bypass lurking parent.

-Hey Son!
-How was your day?
-Anything interesting happen today?
-Anything…er…else going on?
-I’m going to my room.
-Don’t make me call 911 again.
Long pause.
Slumps on couch.
Stares off into space.

Sadly, we cannot yet call the cops to come and unsurlify our spawn, but one suspects there is more going on than simply government trying to shore up familial relationships through legislation.

If you tell me the law requires me to take care of my parents, (picturing Amanda Bynes with a big smile and a flip of her hair “Calling your parents is not only the right thing to do, it’s the law! – The More You Know!”) it sounds a lot like something I hate, but if I say “Honor thy Father and thy Mother” it reminds me of the gravity and seriousness of the movie“The Ten Commandments” (with Charlton Heston riding a chariot full of guns down the mountain holding Ben Moses Chuck 02those big tablets with his guns straining with the weight of the Law, wind blowing his great big beard almost realistically, a horde of apes hot on his heels) and it becomes something that I love.

All the major religions have coded the idea of taking care of our parents into their doctrines, so it’s not a real stretch for earthly governments to think of it as well.

If the police are gonna show up when I don’t call Dad, I’ll call Dad. As it turns out, I don’t really talk to my dad much, and I like the guy. It’d be a lot easier to remember to call if there was jail time for forgetery.

But seriously, how many parents are turning in their kids?

I’m sure they’re threatening to all day long: Woman, 72, holding corded handset about 15 inches from face, thundering:

-Why I oughta…! you little brat! I RAISED YOU! I’m turning you in! You’re going to Jail!
Then lighter, sweeter
-Just call me once in awhile.
-Just tell me you miss me sometimes.
-Would it kill you to tell me you love me a couple times a week, not for you if you don’t
feel it, but for me because I love to hear it so?
It might if you don’t call me before the next election.

I’m gonna call my dad right now just in case.

Dak Gustal is a freelance writer and poet living in Randoph, VT. You may contact him at

Artwork by Kent Kampa

Categories: Aging, Caregiving Issues

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