How did the election divide my friends

In the parking lot, I heard such greetings between two old ladies and an old man. The man asked them how was their day. They had just attended a gathering to support Hillary and hopefully declared their favor of the candidate. “While I’m a Trump guy.” followed the man. “Then, we are not friends any more.” The two women entered in their car and drove away.

This dialogue amazed me, yet I still doubted about the irony or the joke in such a daily communication. I had never taken the political opinion into consideration when I make friends. First, it’s not easy to know others’ real opinion about a delicate issue. Second, in China we hardly debated on politics, which turned out to be pure chatting. Third, it’s easy to reach a consensus when we all complain about the government but not in support of a certain leader.

The new age comes where we are all connected in the social web, which makes the expression of our own beliefs easy and the others’ opinion transparent. By reading others’ comments and declarations, we constantly redefine the profile that they project in our mind. “I never know that she was so stupid!” “How extreme you are!””That’s a great deal of hatred!” “Never could I discuss with him any more.”

Although the recent presidential election didn’t concern directly me neither most of my friends, which was also a main reason that we discussed much more than an average U.S citizen in his surroundings, we all had the impression that many walls were being built up between us as our discussion went on with more and more disagreement. Some dialogue even became an accusation, a deception of trust, and a reason to end the friendship.

“Let’s hope another victory in France, with a true empowered woman!” declared one of my friend this morning. This made me so angry that I instantly block our communication. Another friend also cheered up by sharing some dirty jokes, which made me sick all morning. How could I believe that they are all actual teachers in university. They accused me of my elitism and my blindness of the reality, while I felt so humiliated by their arrogance and discrimination.

I don’t know whether our friendship will survive after this turmoil. To ensure the longevity of any relationship, we should never stand too close, because each individual has a natural defense of his basic needs including safety and self-esteem.

 

 

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Why are we so afraid of divorce?

I was back to Shanghai for two weeks and had serval gatherings with my friends and colleagues. The major topic of our talk around a cup of coffee or a table full of varied dishes is to complain our miserable marriage life. “What’s new about our other classmates? Has anyone already got divorced?” this question, although with negative response, did trigger some compulsive comments on the sustainability of our own marriage.

For our partners and our parents, gossip, whether it relates to ourselves or others, was just a killing-time leisure for women. For us, it was also an effective remedy of our depression. One began to talk about the neglect of her husband in all fields, not only the chores, but also the education of the child, the concern of her feelings, the abusive absence at home. Another followed, adding that her child’s daddy was even worse. Then, it turned out a competition of describing the most miserable life that we have endured.

However, nobody mentioned the possibility of divorce. This unwillingness to reach such a solution is not a sign to undermine the validity of all complaints but an indicator of another bigger problem : we are so afraid of divorce, at least women, at least in China. Our parents already told us to endure the common disappointment of marriage life and have cited numerous examples witch ended deplorable. The devaluation of a divorced woman is especially huge and unworthy, affecting even the woman’s job and social relationship. Besides and after all,  we all give too much privilege to our children, whom we could never imagine suffering the mock of peers.

Then, after indulging ourselves into a storm of accusation, as if letting out all harmful energy, we began offering strategies to handle with a namely miserable life. Some showed their knowledge about make-ups, believing that a refreshing image of oneself can cheer up. Some asserted the importance of career performance, holding that having a respectable income is the basic guarantee of their independence. Some even swore to take vacation alone to gain more hope and optimism. All affirmed our need to have more friends and more hand-out.

Nobody suggested a talk with her husband nor a try to reshape the life style. We all don’t want a divorce, neither another chance to meet a better man, neither to negotiate a better way to handle the current indifference in family. Why? After nearly ten years being together, we all know so much about the other person lying on the same bad. We are all frightened by our potential power to declare the war.

But still, it’s so complicated to explain the fear of divorce which is torturing and tempting. In spite of our education background which emphasized  women’s freedom and self-sufficiency, even with a decent job and social position, we are ultimately determined by our own original family.  We grew up listening our mothers complain about our fathers. Sometimes, we would rather prefer their divorce in stead of suffering the constant stress in family. Nevertheless, we clearly remembered how many nights we refused to sleep because sacred by the idea of our parents’ divorce.

Now,  when we have reached such a period where the disappointment of our partner becomes daily, our mothers’ pessimism automatically activated us. Their fear of divorce was so deeply and dramatically rooted in our mind that we repeat unconsciously their stroy.

Being busy is great!

I had a busy September. First, getting a new car means taking more responsibilities in family work. Second, preparing GRE and taking the test were stressful and my brain kept complaining. Third, I finally got a part-time job as a French teacher.  To well begin my new professional life, I should dedicate more time and  energy.

Thus, I had no time to read newspapers, to aliment my blogs, to stay online in social media, neither to hike nor to swim.

However I felt so good. I didn’t mind any annoying comments from my husband which, generally, would make us argue. I didn’t stick to some weird reactions from my friends, which normally made me upset. Especially, I had no time to worry about my future.

Being busy is great. I like to make my agenda full. Although as my husband said, you could not concentrate on everything in order to make sure of your success. He was right and predicted well the frustrating result of my GRE. But I still loved September, because I was hopeful and energetic.

The most regrettable thing is that I didn’t write much, neither for practicing nor for recording my thoughts. If it’s good to be busy, it’s not good to use it as an excuse to give up thinking. I hesitated many times before resisting a writing impulse.

I will embrace a very busy October and I hope to do better everyday.

Parenting Styles

The Brangelina broke up, frustrating so many young hearts who were almost likely to believe in marriage and in love. Why? For now, we only know that they have different styles of parenting. That must be a more acceptable reason for a divorce, compared to some extramarital affaires. But still why?  Didn’t they both affirm their equal love towards their 6 children?

It is a dilemma. People make decision in name of love while they hold different views of love. When it comes to parenting, things can easily be magnified, because we are making decision for our kids’ future, in name of a whole-life love. We might change our political views, but it’s not easy for us to change our beliefs of a good parenting style.

Yet, recently, Hidden Brain(NPR) has reveals that our political views might have been formed  by our parenting style, in other words, by our ideal of the family life and our ideal of how to prepare kids for the future. Republicans and Democrats all view the nation as a family, but apply different parenting models. Do American people need stricter parents or empathetic ones? After all, both sides believe they are doing good for the kids’ future.

Parenting is now bewildering and intimidating. I’m even surprised by myself borrowing a parenting guide book from the library. Am I consumed by curiosity or doubts? Having grasped some advocated golden rules, I unconsciously increased the chance of arguing with my husband. So when Angelina filed the divorce files, she would naturally be supported by most mothers, although they even didn’t care the details,”Oh, women definitely know better than men in parenting!”

In the name of love, I accused my husband of being rude to Claire. The most frequent example is how to deal with kid’s cry. I was patiently bearing the screaming while he wanted a immediate stop. For him, the discipline is vital and it can help to shape the right behavior. In fact, I hold my own views of discipline. While for me, Claire ought to make the bed daily, her daddy will let her skip some “meaningless” chores.

For a long time, I was so disappointed with the difference in our couple’s parenting styles, which were driven and formed by our own origin family patterns. But now I’m more relaxed, because I have discovered the benefit of the balance. We can not overprotect our children, neither ensure the harmony and homogeneity of the society that they will encounter. Claire loves me, even I’m so strict with her daily mission. She loves her daddy, even he sometimes shouts at her. Parenting doesn’t mean building up a fictional castle with endless happiness and pure love.

The other day, when she was clumsy in moving her bicycle out of the door, my husband lost patience and grumped at her. “You cannot do that to me! Stop!” Claire refuted, which made us stunned before turning into a big laughter. She was assertive and making right response.

The world is complex. What our kids are learning is so tremendous that any parenting could never ensure their safety and success in the future. Fortunately, we all value “family” and, in the name of family, we can tolerate differences and try to take advantage of the apparently unbearable disagreement.

The language war

Claire’s amazing progress in English has dispelled our worries of her daily life in school. But now she began to refuse to speak Chinese, bringing up another concern. She speaks English when playing by herself, talks in English when dreaming, even answers in English when we ask her in Chinese. Her grandparents felt more frustrated on video call : Claire talked only in English before her dad translated all her sentences in Chinese.

It was so easy and so fast that the language war is ended up by the triumph of English? We do hope that she would attain the native speaker’s fluency. However, we still insist that she master her mother tongue. From different perspectives, Multilingualism is obviously a benefit. The problem is we don’t know what’s the detailed map of her language proficiency, now or in the future.

I tried to keep speaking Chinese with her, but sometimes, unconsciously followed her in English. For example, I usually asked her to sum up her day and pick one thing that she likes most. Following my wish, she would form the first sentence in Chinese and turn quickly to English…I picked Chinese book for story time, only to have the reaction as “I know it already!” One day, she was found telling the story in English while the picture book was in Chinese.

Has she given up her Chinese? Was she too small to understand the importance to learn another language? I am considering to send her to Private Chinese lessons, especially for the writing. While her daddy was cooler, affirming that learning well English is the most important thing for now.”It’s OK. Anyway, Chinese is her first language and she will not forget that.” said he, “There is no need to speak Chinese now and she can pick it up quickly when we go back.”It’s true that at her age, she cannot realize the importance of another language if it’s not used frequently or if it can be replaced.

We all have read several research papers, according to which, one can only have a main language that express the deep thoughts. Even we intervene in Claire’s language acquisition, we cannot ensure that she would pick Chinese as the main language. It is also said that second language has its limits. Soon or later, she will encounter a frustrating dilemma, that she speaks less well English than her classmates in America and less well Chinese than her classmates in China.

One day, she followed me to my workplace, where I talked in French with my boss. The way back home, she suddenly suggested, “Mom, I want to learn French!” I was so surprised,”But you are learning Spanish too! Will you confuse so many foreign languages? ”

What I have learned is that Curiosity is a good motivation. Maybe we should find some strategies to make Chinese more charming.

What is American culture?

Halloween is still far away but Claire incessantly plans to be dressed up as Elsa or Anna, the main characters of the famous Disney Film Frozen. Again and again, she draws pictures about them and never seems tired when we read books adapted from the film. She is always seduced by its derivatives, such as T-shirt, Swim Suit, Towel, Headgear, even insisting to buy crackers which has the same theme package.

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“Crazy!””Boring!” “Naive!” These were the usual comments I received from my friends in China, who believe that America is a cultural desert, especially when we actually live in the desert. It’s normal to hold the stereotype. I’m also victim of biased opinion. I understood well the disappointment of my former colleagues and friends in university, who deplored that I would go to US instead of France. Now they seemed to catch enough evidence to ascertain their prediction, when I said that my girl, at school, was singing and dancing with Elle King or Pink on radio. “That’s American cultural, you see, that’s junk food.” The criticism was so fierce that I felt suddenly guilty and hopeless.

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Claire does love princesses best. She wants to be beautiful every day, in skirt. She admires Elsa to have magic, although we have told her many times that Anna is more attractive by her kindness. “That’s silly! You don’t want your daughter to be a doll?!””Princess and prince, very banal dreams!” The concerns were overwhelming. So I replied:”She also loves Clifford, LadyBug Girl, even Peter the cat!”

However, when I see Claire so happy, singing, dancing and dreaming, all my concerns were blown away. We are so mean to a child and unconsciously want to formate him or her as a wise grownup with critical thinking and strong individuality. But we forgot our childhood and even our youth, when we were as much crazy as them for some other silly things.  I love Frozen too and the variety on radio makes me feel free to dance with Claire. Even she is now so narrowed in her taste, she is Happy and Hopeful.

What is American culture? I don’t know, pretending it’s a silly question.

Because I’m a Chinese girl

At playground, Claire is always reluctant to try the Monkey Bar while other kids seems so good at it. “You can do it, just try!” In spite of our encouragements, she turns herself quickly away. If we continue to push her, she would say, “because I’m a Chinese girl”. She has made a good reasoning, since in China, we hardly see Monkey Bars in Kindergarten and she had never tried them before.

She will soon turn 5 and we are considering to put her bed in her own room. When her friends came for a playdate, we felt embarrassed to explain that she was still sleeping in our room because the other room is downstairs which makes her feel unsafe. In fact, kids and parents co-sleep much longer in China than in other countries. Now she still sticks to this idea and refuses to embrace her freedom: “because I’m a Chinese girl”.

We call her grandma from time to time and each time she reminds us to protect more and better her granddaughter, because Claire is different and the only one. The other day, when we mentioned that American young people were all financially independent and that young couple had tight budget, she repeated that we should absolutely save money in bank for our daughter’s future, because we were definitely a Chinese family.

I never have considered seriously the question of identity, believing that American is after all a “cultural melting pot”. I’m never involved in any discussion about the competition between US and China, believing that nationalism is an evil. We didn’t see much olympic games, avoiding the discussion of national pride at table but cheering for the admirable beauty and strength of certain athletes.

However, even all ethnics can enjoy the equal rights and been treated fairly, we still face so many questions risen from identity. Some are pseudo-problems, like the Monkey Bar, some are traditions, like co-sleeping, some are just personal perspective, like the financement. There are not big deals. But some are serious, like the recent Chinese community protest demonstration in Paris. Living in this multi-culturiste society, I’m shocked everyday by the media focus on race hatred.

One Chinese mom has decided to change school for her daughter, because she is the only Chinese girl in her grade with the majority of white people. She supposed that there would be more bully and more discrimination towards her daughter. She is more concerned about her daughter’s feeling of others’ judgements.

Claire is only 5 and she is lucky. She hasn’t experienced unreasonable harm caused by her identity. When one of her friend told her that his parents would forbid him from going to China even when he was grownup, she just made a sound comment: “Yes, because you may probably be sick by the smog, like me.”Her daddy and me didn’t make any further comments on this story, although we were kind of disappointed by the image of China that these parents might hold.

But Claire does become more and more aware of her identity and attributes it as excuse, guilty, frustration and loneliness. What I want to tell her is: Everyone is different, that’s nature, but everyone can be good, kind and strong. Keep trying!