The first day of the Lunar New Year is a day of joyous family reunions, but unfortunately for me, this has never been the case.
初一, in my books, connotes anxiety, anger, gossip and the likes. I’ve spent 18 years feeling anxious about showing up at family reunions because my parents knows not the true meaning of ‘family.’ They see family reunions during Chinese New Year as none other than a time to criticise the less wealthy relatives of their spouse and to bicker about whose side of the family is better-off. And although we sing this same song every year, I remain ill-taught in the field of coping. The loud disagreements hit me harder and harder every year, as if each one arises from a totally different dimension to the one before. So this year I decided to walk away from their evil; This year I chose happiness.
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, I left at dawn, before anyone woke, and traveled 4 hours up North to seek solace in a family that humbly opened up their home to me. We spent the next couple of days eating, laughing, watching Avatar (though I slept for 3/4 of the film), visiting caves and temples… but most importantly, they offered me a level of kindness and acceptance that was previously unbeknownst to me. They offered me a bed, blankets, and a shower to clean myself. They cooked me meals that were fit for kings and they took me in as a member of their family, in a way I could never have imagined. It had initially took me a few hours to adapt to such generosity, but it wasn’t difficult for me to realise that these people were not here to judge—They were happy for me to be me, as I was the same for them.
This profound sense of ‘family’ I felt from these people made me ridicule the traditions of my own. The idiocy of my family’s cultural beliefs denied them understanding of the open-mindedness of modern day mentalities such as is mine. They expect everyone to lead lives like they do, and when anyone comes along to do any different, they denunciate. So one can expect that when their only daughter left in the household springs onto them the possibility of her diverting from social norms, they condemn in extremes. They hurl at her indifference and disdain. They ignore her preachings because they are afraid of being wrong to a daughter whose intelligence they don’t understand. (important to note that being a daughter is already in itself not something to be proud of-so having a problematic one is basically not even worth their time)
Now you must understand why I ran away from home. I needed something to get their attention; to say hey! listen to me-I exist. can we stop fighting?
But I thought wrong because when I called for attention, they walked away and left me feeling no more important than the façade they have to put on in front of the extended family.
To parents who know not how to parent:
There is no right or wrong way to be a parental figure to your child. You will never do it perfectly right because every child is different and the “tactics” you’ve learned from one will not apply to the next. So here is my advice. Just be there. Show up. Show that you care and show that you are on their side. No matter what the circumstances, remind them that you have never regretted their birth.