“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.

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I want to play football

I met a woman who is in a dilemma.

His son is now studying in a private high school in California. He went through 8 years in a very competitive public school in China, where sports time was always occupied by the study of other subjects. The situation hasn’t  been changed from my generation to today’s teenagers. Sports in school mean the morning broadcast physical exercise, which lasts ten minutes with more than ten minutes for lining up to go to the playground and to go back to the classroom. In the written curriculum agenda for every week, there is place for sports. However, the math teacher or the literacy teacher will always tell you that we are late for the main courses and the exams are coming, which result in the cancellation of the sports time. Children are supposed to dedicate their free time to exercise, which is never realistic because they are overwhelmed with homework and additional trainings.

So this son, like many others, wanted to leave such a school setting. This mom, like many others, tried all to ensure a better future for her child. Money is not the problem, neither time and energy. She was a wonderful woman, diligent, smart and determined.

Now his son is very happy because he can play football! He enjoys it in school and after school. He made efforts to enroll in the school’s representative team and travels around to have friendly match. He loves school although his English is not yet fluent. He is happy.

Nevertheless, the woman is not totally satisfied with this situation because this high school is not one of the best in California. If her son continues his study there, he would have less opportunities to go to a famous university such as UCLA. To ensure the enrollment to a top university, she must push his son to go to another private high shool which is better ranked. Besides, she is certain that her son, like many other Chinese children, will achieve better academic performance if she pushes more.

“But, it’s highly possible that in that school I would not be enrolled in the football team!” His son is reluctant. He is right. The woman told me that in other private schools, football is more popular and the opportunities for being a member fo school team is limited.

“I cannot decide. All I do is for his good. Short-term or long-term? Happiness for today or Success for tomorrow.” sighed she.

“But why do you want to send him to a top university?” asked I.

She was surprised because my question is non sense. Who don’t expect his or her child to go to Harvard?

We stopped our talk. I have no reason to convince her, and yet I hesitate with my answer.

 

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.

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.

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.

Would you like to have a walk to the trash can?

The community’s recycle trash can is about 200 meters away from our condo, which makes me unwilling to get out immediately our daily waste. Since bottles and papers can wait, I indulge myself in accumulating garbage at home while my husband sometimes cannot overlook my negligence.

It was another tropical day. He was eating his breakfast and would stay at home for work. I quickly rushed out with two bags of bottles, directing to the trash can. There were two more left in the corner of an unoccupied room, so I needed to repeat the journey.

“Where were you?” He was surprised to notice my morning disappearance.

“To throw away recyclable trash.”

“Why didn’t you ask me to go with you? You went there twice?”

This question stunned me. Why? Apparently, there was no need, because I’m not a baby and that’s just a common daily chore.

But why not? Because it’s kind of weird to be seen walking together to the trash can. A middle-aged couple, on a working day morning. Would our neighbors think that we were going to move out? Would they guess wrong about our intimacy or dependence?

This can be a common moment of everyone’s daily life. But why don’t we walk together, to check the mail box, to throw garbage, or just to have a walk.? Young couples feel happy to show their intimacy and stay eager to accompany each other. Old couples generally do things together, as their daily program tend to be the same. While middle-aged couples unconsciously diminish opportunities to be seen together, except for some special reasons.

We divide family chores. We go to grocery shop alone. We walk children or dogs alone. We do workout alone. Maybe we are so busy to lose time for a meaningless help. However, after the dinner, when it’s cooled down outside and we all have time to waste, we are still reluctant to go for a walk together. Maybe we think that we are not old enough.

However, if we walked together to the trash can, what would be different? We may talk? We may enjoy together the morning sunshine that was not yet killing? We may stay silent but feel a little cheered with the presence of another in doing such a mundane affaire?

If so, later, when I see the piles of trash at home, I would not foresee the angry face of my husband criticizing my laziness and incompetence. In stead, I would remember his warm suggestion to walk together these 200 meters.

Sacrifice

When I was young, I believed that love was pure and sacred. All those love stories where sacrifice was glorified had been touching me, shaping my own view of a perfect partner and guiding my behavior of being a lover.

Later, when it came to marriage, my mom reminded me that sacrifice was the most important quality as to maintain a long relationship. It is so common in our tradition that most women are proud of having put foreword the interest of their family or their children. For all kinds of reasons, we gave up our own dreams or ambitions. Unfortunately, the society takes it for granted.

Marriage is a long journey and love is a bewildering feeling. We need sacrifices and concessions to coordinate daily life and the long term family project. However, if we keep thinking that our motivation is selfless and that our action is a purely sacrifice, we will  soon or later encounter a stronger compulsive power, which rises from inside calling for justice. Of course, sacrifice can be rewarded. The problem is that we expect rewards so much while the moment of rewards is always delayed. Not mention that most of time there will be no sign of such expected rewards. The calculating of sacrifice from each partner, although in favor of the family’s future, undermines love, marriage, self-esteem, trust, intimacy and relationship with our children.

Now I hate this word”sacrifice”, delusive and poisonous. In every decision, I tell myself that what I will do is not a sacrifice waiting to be glorified and rewarded. What I will do is to give me another chance to impower myself, whether it is to increase my tolerance and patience or to boost my effectiveness and creativity.

A healthy love journey is not to direct a wonderful film where the main characters gain happiness and wealth while you are waiting years later to get the frame in the podium. As a family number, we should thrive with the other members, sharing the daily energy and joy.

So at the 8th anniversary of my marriage, I looked back all the important up and down moments and more detailed trifles in my life.

Congratulations! The success of this love journey is not represented by a positive answer from my husband to such naive questions : Do you still love me? Do you love me more? Do you remember and reward all my sacrifices?

I’m happy because my marriage has enabled me to meet a “better” Me.