I’m a big fan of YouTube channel called Off The Great Wall – they had a Hong Kong girl, they have a Shanghainese guy and a Cheesy-Mike, all of them make what my husband is. When we watch their videos he often refers to them like ‘That’s what I do‘ or ‘That’s how it really is‘ or ‘I used to sing this song on karaoke with my dad, when I was young I sang the best when it went to female parts‘. Believe me, you don’t want to hear him singing ‘little sister sitting on a pier’ part in 縴夫的愛. You just don’t.
Anyway, they post many kind of videos, from culture-related stuff to ‘Asian parents vs. Western parents’. Recently they added a really funny and heart-warming video of Chinese kids saying ‘I love you’ to their parents (if you want to see it just click here) and that inspired me to write this post.
Showing affection towards family is like a sky and earth when it goes to my family and Sing’s family.
I’ve always been close with my parents, I hugged and greeted everyone when they came back after work (usually to report house damage before my dad tells my mom how much mess I did), but saying ‘I love you’ or ‘Thank you’ never been a problem. We say thank you for even a small things like if they pass me something or before and after the meal. Now since I moved out across the ocean and I’ve seen them only for a month in past one and a half year, I say ‘I love you’ everyday when we end up a Skype call. Pretty normal, ordinary family, right?
Now you have Sing’s family – I never heard them saying anything close to ‘I love you’ – neither in Cantonese or Shanghainese. Even ‘Thank you’ is like a forbidden word. Mom sent you some pocket money? Nod your head and add ‘mmm’ to it. Your son and daughter-in-law got you a watch as a gift? Keep on punching your son in his arms while you repeat his full name. It’s even more awkward when you actually witness that. I can only imagine my FIL’s reaction to those words since when I say ‘Hi’ to him or whatever he’s just saying ‘Hahaha’. If a simple greeting can make you feel so uncomfortable you can predict how other signs of affection would give.
I asked him did he actually ever said to them he loves them… His reaction? He made extremely disgusted face and said ‘ Maybe as a child, but now I’m a grown up man and when we grow up we don’t do this, too intimate’. Can you imagine I had to tell HIS mother that he actually LOVES HER. Yes, I told HER.
You think that is the most awkward thing? When she was at the airport in Poland, leaving back to Asia, my parents had to push him into his mother’s arms and they hugged like both of them were dirty, leaving like 30 cm of space between each other and it didn’t last more than 5 seconds. Can it be even worse? From what he told me, this time when she left (I was already in Poland), she just slapped him in the back and ask go to back to work – ‘I won’t see you son for next year, let me hit you’.
No matter how much I try, I cannot accept that part of what he calls ‘his culture’ or just an excuse not to get close to his own family. Maybe it would be easier if he wasn’t so cheesy to me (Linda from Linda living in China can confirm Sing even hugged me once in front of her!), he can easily say to our cat ‘I love you Biscuit, so come here and let me rub your belly’ or even ‘Kocham Cię Mamuś/Kocham Cię Tatuś‘ (the only sentence after ‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ he can say in Polish) to my parents but you just cannot force him to show any love. I tried to convince him that even though Momzilla says ‘Study well, get a good life, be happy, that’s all I want‘ it will make her extremely happy if he one day simply told her ‘I love you’ in her face. You could see that in his last guest post on this blog (click here if somehow you made his creative-writing masterpiece, in his mind of course) he had no problems in saying to people he doesn’t really know that he loves his mother, but I think I will die before he dares to say that to her in person.
Why do I even talk about it? Because it started to make me wonder about our future children and how will they show feelings towards us. Don’t get me wrong but after 9 months of sitting in my belly, making me gain weight, throw up further than my sight can reach and feet so swollen I’m close to look like Shrek I want my baby to love the crap out of me. I have so much love inside me towards other people, not to mention a little human I create myself (with some small help from Sing, I should give him some credit for that) and I would never be tired of hearing ‘I love you, mom‘. I cannot imagine my child following his father’s path and just nodding the head or doing ‘mmm’. On the other hand I also wonder will Sing follow his parents path like it wasn’t awkward enough. Imagine that family Christmas meeting where you have like 10 or 12 people and all they do is just nodding their heads. With all the head moving you would have a literal ‘Jingle Bell Rock’.
Do you have any problems with saying ‘I love you’? Is it common in your culture to not show affection to your close ones? Is it different for you to say it to your parents than to a partner? Share your view on this topic! We cannot wait to read it! :)
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