“You hurt my feelings”

It was time to go to bed but Claire was still excited. She asked us for more TV and refused to go brush her teeth. I lost my patience and raised my voice.

“You hurt my feelings ! Why you are always making me sad!” She began to cry.

I felt confused and meanwhile angry. Like the majority of parents, I always believe that all I have done is for my daughter’s sake. In the name of protecting her, loving her and preparing her for a good future, I only listen to my reason and tend to become one of the tiger moms. To raise a child is not to spoild her! After coming to US, I tried to change my attitude and remind myself not to push her into something that can be learned later, such as writing, math and piano. Yet, I’m still tough with discipline, so she is never allowed to eat two icecreams per day, nither to skip the breakfast.

My husband sighed, pointing out that Claire has already adopted the American style, which might give kids too much freedom and thus let them become egocentric. Instead of deploring the culture difference, I tried to see the good side of her “defense”.

I would wish that in my life I could have had the courage to say “no” to my parents. Yes, they did a lot for me, for my hapiness and success. But in most Chinese families, the communication is only one-way talk, from what they suppose to be right and good for kids to kids’ obedience. Even we don’t agree with them, we should be thankful and understand their good reasons.

It would be a huge sin if I told my parents that they had hurt my feelings, especially when they thought it as a right thing which would benefit only me but not themselves. “You hurt my feelings ” would be a too direct and sharp  way to express the disagreement.

Now Claire seems to abuse these words, which I guess that she had learned from school life. It’s a good defense way amongst peers. For us, how to react and adjust the situation is an important lesson. If we continue to instill the traditional vertus of being a nice kid, we will certainly increase the gap between two generations. I need to learn and find a balance between the respect and the discipline.

If she can say “no”, I can say “no” too. When her caprices caught her, I said:” you hurt my feeelings!” She was stunned. Of course, I would compensate her kindness by repeating that “you make me happy.”  I’m trying.

The traditional one-way communication always begins with the subject “I”: I think, I do this to… How about be direct and tell the others that they are responsible for their good and had behaviors. That’s about love, but not about the love that we try to beautify.

Frustrated

For every new job or new mission, we are well prepared and we tell ourselves and others that we can do it and succeed. We have the ability and we are eager to demonstrate it. But there is an important step before we lauch ourselves and go fight for the promissed success, that is to open the door and get that permission to try.

The world is not made of logic niether with pure fairness. There are so many factors that contribute to the success of your own life and career: competitition, relationship and chance. Even if you have the strength and the confidence, the good result is not guaranteed. That’s why we feel frustrated.

When I use this world, I feel hopeless because I have done all that I could but the situation depended on external factors.I do believe that life will compensate those who work hard and keep optimist, but sometimes a pessimist opinion will allow us to consider more realistic obstacles. The New York Times has republished an article that illustrates the same philisophie: The power of negative thinking.

Feeling frustrated is a normal life experience, through which we learn how to see the world from more different perspectives. Yes, nobaby can control us but we neither can control everything.

Privacy and public debate

For the past week, China’s social medias were flooded with comments on a private scandal. Former Olympic Badminton player Lin Dan had been filmed when giving some intimate gestures to a pretty woman before the hotel’s curtain was shut down. Anger and criticism went viral in the internet, especially because his wife, another former world champion just gave birth to their son two weeks ago.

Well, everyone believed to have right to comment on a celebrity’s life, where privacy and public image are confused. The majority expressed their condemnation on Lin’s betrayal, considering an extramarital behavior was the first sin of a man, especially of a successful man. His legends collapsed and people mocked about their ten-years’ true love story.

After first waves of criticism directed to the national idol, many began to point out the naive and aberrant action of all internet users, who were supposed not to take others’ privacy as an official trial. Some even claimed that all the emotions were just a show which reveals the emptiness of our social life.

The counter motion was triggered, refuting this cynic conclusion and justifying their roles in defending the moral duty. While men were accused of their compulsive animality, women were satirized though their increasing self-respect.

To many’s surprise, the wife tweeted a disappointing response several days later, claiming that she would forgive her husband since the later had acknowledged the fault.The internet went even crazier. Some cried on the typical weakness of women, some thrilled with the happy ending, some seemed  find justification of being wrong, some called love illusion and marriage a cruel trap and some just laughed at all discussion.

“You know, China is very interesting.” Many foreigners told me. A famous young writer also admits that life was even more interesting than some American TV shows because everyone seems so involved but the next episode is never predictable.

Then, one week later, other news began to top all social medias. The former champions can finally sit down and talk about their private problems while all internet users still suffer with their own problems and lose hope to seek an example to apply accordingly.

Be thankful…and Do not take it for granted

Thanksgiving is coming. We can even smell the sweetness in the could air. All the slogans, in the supermarket or at school, remind us to be thankful, generous and kind, as if every problem can be solved with a warm heart.

Be thankful is also a life motto in my family. My mom told me that kindness should be magic to solve any problem and for long long time, I deeply believed in it.

When I first went to France as an exchange student, I was full of hope and confidence, although my French was very limited. After the arrival at the airport, we should immediately find the nearby railway station and catch the last train. At that time, mobile phone was still a luxury that a student could not afford, neither a laptop computer. Unfortunately, one of my classmate lost his bag, which contained his passport and a new camera. He was desperate.

When all other classmates kept their silence and jumped on the last train, I remembered my mom’s farewell words and stayed with the guy. To our surprise, we did find the bag after looking around. One passenger had picked it up and returned it to the information desk. At that moment, we were so thankful, believing that France was an ideal world. The Autumn night was chilly but we wandered in Paris with a warm heart.

The next train to our destination was scheduled in the early morning, departure from another station in the center of Paris. We were so brave, testing here and there our limited French. We were so hungry but only ate a small bag of chips, given that the budget for the following year was only 6000$. The money was carefully stored  in our underwear pockets, pockets that moms sewed for this particular purpose. Thus, we had no money for hotel.

Now when I go to Paris, I barely dare wander after midnight and never carry a big amount of cash. But at that time, we were fearless. Exhausted, we finally found a public garage which seemed to have lights on all night. We sat down on the ground and began to kill time by telling stories of our childhood. It was not romantic at all because I began to feel the real cold. Several hours later, a black and strong guy appeared in front of us. No panic! we tried to explain our embarrassing situation. Without a word, he asked us to follow him.

The next station was the police ? No! We were so lucky and so thankful. He led us to the stairs which kept us from the cold wind. The only word we repeated was “Merci!” The next morning, my classmate suggested to treat us because of our survival and we entered a coffee shop at the railway station. That was the most expensive meal I had during the whole year in France although it was only a breakfast.

I still remember this adventure and the hope that my mom gave me with the magic motto.

However, not all things turned good even I paid attention to be kind and thankful. We were cheated by the residence owner, the bank agent, even the representative of a student union. Being kind sometimes equals being silly. However, my mom tells me that even you are hurt, your tolerance and generosity will reward you soon or later. She is right to some extent because I’m proud of my resilience. But she is wrong too because sometimes you are not willing to lose so much.

Nevertheless, I’m not as kind as before. Life also pushes me to be assertive and prudent. Sometimes, keeping a nice relationship leads to unlimited sacrifice. When the other takes it  for granted, you will never have chance to value your sacrifice.

So now I try to pass the same motto to my daughter, asking her to be kind and thankful. Besides, I also tell her to be assertive, to protect anytime her own rights and joy. If tomorrow she is willing to help a classmate at night in Paris, I would totally support her but warn her of caution and safety. If tomorrow she is asked to pay an extra rent because of her foreign student’s status, I would suggest her to seek protection by law.

We are thankful to life, who has gave us good lessons and bad ones. However, our kindness should be respected. On the other hand, we should also never take others’ kindness and generosity for granted. If we do so, we become a silly and arrogant turkey.

Why I don’t like to live with my parents-in-law

My parents-in-law are visiting us and they will stay with us for three months. It’s a pure joy for my husband, not because he can enjoy his mom’s cooking, but he has gotten an opportunity to fulfill his responsibilities as a son, especially unique son in the family. In a traditional Chinese family, the child is always obligated to take care of his parents, not only financially but also emotionally.

However, the share of our daily life, in long-term, is detrimental to our marriage. In the beginning, the peace might depend on the mutual respect and tolerance. However with the accumulation of disagreements on trifles, the atmosphere tended to be more and more stressful. There are questions of privacy, interference and culture.  But recently, I have discovered the main reason which explains why I can not bear a a long period of living together.

One night, after the dinner, my husband and his mom were discussing about the problem of a two-year-old nephew, who couldn’t sleep well in the night, crying from time to time and making his cousin exhausted. “He was once frightened by your cousin’s mother-in-law.” That was the conclusion from my mom-in-law, who holds a negative opinion of another lady that unfortunately has a bad relationship with her daughter-in-law. I was sitting in another corner of the living room, busy with my own work, but heir discussion began to catch my attention. “That happens a lot.I think it’s better to sing aloud a song anti-ghost.”my daughter’s grandma suggested. It’s not uncommon to have such a superstitious idea, less in the countryside. I was never picky with the ignorance of our parents. However, it was the reaction of my husband that shocked me and made me feel sick. “Look, I just searched online, there is a version of such song.” followed my honey, who holds a graduate degree obtained in a top university in China.”Then send it to your cousin.”thrilled his mom.

I couldn’t fall asleep that night, although it was a insignificant discussion that didn’t concern any number of our own family. If it involved my daughter, I would probably advance my opinion and treat her symptom as being sick. Besides, to practice such a silly ritual might have no bad consequence, but help to give some reliefs to the anxious parents. Nevertheless, my husband’s consentient shed lights on some something that I couldn’t accept but only ignored in our life. Was this reaction due to the respect of his parents’ opinions, given that parental authority in a traditional family is not supposed to be questionable? Was it a gesture to please his mom in order to avoid a meaningless disagreement? Or was it an indication of his ignorance and a demonstration of his true beliefs? Such doubts were all-consuming. I didn’t dear to allow myself to go on.

This small incident appeared so insignificant that I didn’t question the real intention of my husband. To my surprise, it remained significant when others similar incidents accumulated, making me rediscover my husband. Then, the life with my parents-in-law became discouraging and hopeless.

We can not always agree with our partner, neither disagree with him. As we are losing hope to influence another adult, the reality that the same person can be eventually influenced so easily by another person makes us confused and disappointed. With more people living together, there are more competitions of opinions and influence. Landmines are being settled down  while we even never payed great attention to the peaceful appearance.

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.