Friday, November 14, 2008

bound feet and western dress

so i have started to read this memoir that compares an American Chinese and her great aunt's upbringing in china- its very interesting. one thing i learned, which has come too late for me as my children are grown, but children were not only "seen and not heard" they just weren't seen either. they were not allowed to speak to their parents unless spoken to, not allowed to lift their eyes and look in the face of their parents.
why? because they were taught to be very grateful and honorable toward their parents for selecting to bear them in the first place. this is the first lesson of "filial piety": that your life and body are gifts to you from your parents.
they did take this notion to the extreme however, the filial children were to sacrifice themselves for the parent's comfort, for example, lie down on a cold bed in wintertime to warm it for the parents, and in the summertime, accept all mosquito bites to feast on them to their fill, so that the parent would not be attacked and superstitiously stand out in a bamboo plantation in the dead of winter and weep so that their tears would become the soft rain of spring and bamboo wold grow, so that their parent could have the leaves in their soup.

well, i don't need bamboo soup in winter, or my bed warmed and we have screen s to keep out mosquitoes, thank god. BUT i just wished my kids would learn not to talk back ad appreciate us parents (or just life) a tiny bit more instead of chronically engaging in finding fault with the universe.

1 comment:

Bonnie Pilon said...

fascinating stuff...my son thinks it is the complete other way around...I got yelled at for warming his bed up too much the other night, and the tears I cried so hard will certainly result in springtime floods (how DARE me) :)*wink*

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