An Orange, 3 Mandarins, and 2 Sesame Candies

20 Feb

An orange, 3 mandarins, 2 sesame seed candies, 2 mango candies, 1 Dairy Milk bar, 1 yogurt drink pack, an apple, many cookies, 2 chocolate wafers, yaoyao rides –colourful, musical, electronic animal rides- and many more things that I can’t even recall, have been gifted to Aarav – my 19 month old son – mostly by ayis(aunties) and sometimes by shūshus(uncles). Ayis often say how cute he is and give him something from their bag, to show their love.

I took their words seriously. My son must be an outstanding and beautiful little guy. So, wherever we went, I kept collecting the goodies and saying thanks for such wonderful comments. Hence, I was looking forward to such compliments and brief talks, when we went on a short trip to Hong Kong and Australia; but not a single person stopped by our side to flatter my boy. Was it the rain in Hong Kong or the hot summer in Australia?

I was really becoming uneasy with all of this. In a Melbourne elevator, we met a Shūshu from Beijing. He smiled when he saw my son and took out a strawberry milk pack from his bag. He gave it to Aarav and said he is very “kě’ài” – the Chinese word for cute.

I finally calmed down and told myself that my son is still kě’ài and I should not worry at all. Back in Chengdu, the ayis and shūshus continue to make him feel special by showing their affection.

After giving birth to my son in India, when I joined my husband in Chengdu, I was really worried about how well I would do? As it is my first experience as a mom, I read a lot about raising a child. I also had long chats with my sisters, my mother and my friends back-home. But when it comes to local conditions and survival strategies, then my good friends in Chengdu have been a great guide to me. However, I never realized that I would get great advice and tips from nǎinais – meaning grandmothers – who are total strangers to me.

When I am out with my son, nǎinais often hold him. In the summer time I receive suggestions like, “He weighs good. But he is red, so give him much more fluid and try to take him out without a diaper because it is very hot.” They would check if he had his meals on time and what his favorite foods are. They do not like the idea of Aarav being a vegetarian little guy. They would strongly suggest that meat is a very important source of protein and that he needs it very much at this growing stage. But they do not insist.

Being out with my son in Chengdu and interacting with ayis, shūshus, and nǎinais is very interesting. I get a good chance to see others’ perspective on raising children and yes, to continue listening to how “hao kě’ài” my baby boy is!

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Deepty Tiwari is a contributing author at Multicultural Mothering. She has lived in Chengdu for the last year and a half with her husband and son. She used to work for United Nations; since becoming a mum, she is also a freelancer for humanitarian development projects.

4 Responses to “An Orange, 3 Mandarins, and 2 Sesame Candies”

  1. Natasha Devalia February 20, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    Very funny Deepty, and yeah, lots of good advice and affection around! Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. RENUKA February 22, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Hi Deepty,
    Great post. I have wondered about all the free advise as well. And some of them turn out to be pretty useful. Your son is universally cute. We have to realize that some cultures are lot more vocal about it than others. And right now I know my kids are loving all the celebrity status they are getting here.

  3. Pascalinap February 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Nice post! It’s true asians have something special with kids. In Bali, people are very religious, they consider that the younger the baby is, the closer he is to god. They literally worship babies and offer them all kinds of stuff.
    One day, a chinese man in a elevator gave my 3month old daughter a chocolate with alcohol filling. At first I thought that he didn’t know there was alcohol in it, even if It was shaped like a bottle of champagne!

  4. tuesday2 August 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    I saw the best little t-shirt on a baby… it said, “My mom doesn’t want your advice.”
    It sure did provoke conversation! :D

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