An aging Chinese immigrant finds the differences between American and Chinese culture and education confusing. Chinese education is stricter:using mellow physical punishment (spanking), as well as treats. American education is concentrated on words.
The narrator, is mother to Natalie (married to irish-born) John (who's mother is irish immigrant-Bess).
Natalie and John's daughter is the American born and raised Child, Sophie.
( Narrator>Natalie>Sophie<John<Bess )
Chinese grandmother attributes her granddaughter's misbehavior to the Irish side of her parentage. The ensuing battles over how, or even if, to discipline the child divide along generational rather than ethnic boundaries. Ultimately the two grandmothers, Chinese and Irish, align themselves, a reconstituted family unit that achieves a harmony of nations on a small, human scale.