Young Melodee didn’t want to take Japanese-style lunches to school after being teased by classmates, but her mother had the perfect solution.

Growing up can be rough for anyone, but it is especially so if there is something “different” about you that makes you an easy target for bullies. Whether you wore glasses, were more heavyset than your peers, or were anything else that made you stand out, more likely than not you were teased for it at some point or another.

For Melodee Morita, a Japanese American woman who grew up in Los Angeles, it was her cultural background that brought her some unwanted attention from classmates.

Melodee, who now lives in New York City working as a bilingual TV reporter & director, MC, interpreter, and professional ballet dancer, also creates YouTube videos on health, beauty, fashion, and culture, but recently shared a more personal story of a tough experience she faced when she was in kindergarten.

▼ She starts with the story in Japanese, and from 9:25 onward tells the same story in English.

She starts out by explaining her personal background – how she was raised in the United States, never once having lived in Japan. While her parents never forced her to learn Japanese, they were very proactive in sharing Japanese culture with her and her brother. One of the things Melodee’s mother did was make a traditional bento-style boxed lunch every day for her to take to school.

Most kids, in true American fashion, had simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as their lunch staple. At first, Melodee was not fazed by it and happily enjoyed her mother’s bentos, until one day when her mother packed her a lunch which contained norimaki.

▼ Norimaki is a type of rolled sushi with fillings that is wrapped on the outside with nori seaweed.

While sushi has spread in popularity the world over, it wasn’t always so well-known. Melodee’s classmates, who had probably never even heard of sushi before, came over and saw the norimaki she was about to eat, and proceeded to make such comments as, “Ew, that’s so gross! You’re eating black paper?

As anyone would feel in that situation, Melodee was not only hurt by their remarks, but was embarrassed of the Japanese foods she used to enjoy. She went home in tears and told her mother she didn’t want to take Japanese bento to school anymore.

Instead of arguing with her or simply giving in, her mother stepped up and made enough norimaki for all of the kids in the class to try if they wanted to. Her teacher at the time was also very supportive, encouraging the students to be open to other cultures. Some of her classmates tried the norimaki, and Melodee was so pleased to hear them say that it was delicious.

In introducing the class to norimaki, Melodee’s mother was able to dispel the “weirdness” that comes with unfamiliar things, and in turn piqued the kids’ curiosity about Japanese food. After that, Melodee explains she was never teased about her lunches again, and that she holds the experience as one of the most important lessons she has learned in her life.

As they say, “Mother knows best,” and that couldn’t be more true for Melodee’s fantastic mom!

Source, images: YouTube/Melodee Morita