Letting the Kids Fly

04 Oct 2006
toddler on bike

The other day as I was walking through my apartment complex I noticed what appeared to be a child of 3 or 4 and his grandmother. The child was on one of those little toddler vehicles, pushing himself along with gusto. As the child got farther and farther away from his grandmother, I heard her start to make some noises as she hurried to catch up.

I knew what was coming on. The kid was about to get a volley of “be carefuls” and “stay near mes” and “that’s dangerouses.” This is what it’s like to grow up an only child in China.

But I was wrong.

As the child pushed happily along, the grandmother called after, “you’re flying, you’re flying!” The kid was delighted.

It felt great to be wrong.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. That’s great. I am as pleased that you were wrong.

  2. oh, well, not everyone was raised like that. Maybe I was just an exception. You were not totally wrong though.

    I just came up a point that maybe not all the “illness” are due to the system by which their citizens are being governed as most of the people nowadays talk so.Instead, thinking more about cultural differences might be more wise approach. AND sometimes it is.

    I Enjoyed the post!

  3. FYI:i am not saying you are.don’t get me wrong!

  4. feeling warm…you did it, John.

  5. That’s so…sweet!!

  6. parasitius (Justin) Says: October 4, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    Uh… On a similar issue, I wasn’t pleased to be wrong about this sort of thing. Was down in the FARRRRrr West-South corner of the map… a disgraceful place most Shanghainese hope the foreigners never see. (Where the streets are paved in garbage like the rest of …) Okay, anyway, to my point: there was a high-way, with cars flying by at speeds of 80-120… and two little kids were playing this game of “hurl the string-cord with a pink plastic bag on one side and blue plastic bag on the other (and s/t to add weight) into the middle of the highway and see if you can retrieve it without getting killed”. . . I watched about 5 minutes in disbelief and HORROR before realizing — hey, there are like 15+ adults age 40-70 in the IMMEDIATE vicinity who don’t seem to think anything of this. Well, best wishes to those kids and I continued walking.

  7. One thing the Chinese do have right is generally letting the kids be kids. American kids are both overprotected and encouraged to grow up too quickly.

  8. Atleast american kids do not have a 1 in 3 kids have psychological problems (I believe that research was done by Renmin University, about Beijing elementary students. Although I can see some overprotection of American kids, it’s not nearly to the extent in China. Growing up quickly is nice, you make money earlier, hence saving money earlier, hence retiring with a bigger wad of cash! hehe

  9. Atleast american kids do not have a “1 in 3 kids have psychological problems” statistic (I believe that research was done by Renmin University, about Beijing elementary students. Although I can see some overprotection of American kids, it’s not nearly to the extent in China. Growing up quickly is nice, you make money earlier, hence saving money earlier, hence retiring with a bigger wad of cash! hehe

  10. I know Chinese people always talk about being safe and careful, but how does that compare to seeing a mother holding a baby that was slowly slipping out of her hands as she rode her bike in heavy traffic? Or babies tied on the back of the bike with string, no seat?

    It’s like the joke about Chinese people driving in America. Supposedly a lot of them drive slower than average. Then you et to China and see how people drive there.

    Maybe I’m just not around enough little kids enough, but I saw a lot of 8 years old practicing gong fu on each other and using large sticks as swords in all out battles, with parents off to the side.

  11. “Letting the Kids Fly” – I’ll have to remember that, John.

  12. It’s sort of fitting that John writes a thoughtful (if not a bit Chicken Soup For The Soul-ish) post about how he came to a generalized conclusion about people, and then was proven wrong, and then these comments contradict each other so much.. hehe.

    I would say, from my experiences, that China tends to have a lot more over-protective parents, but at the same time the place is a lot more dangerous in many regards… so, it sort of balances out.

    (all the above only relates to my opinion of young kids… as for the mamma’s boys that can’t do their own laundry or even cook some 方便面 by themselves because they’ve been babied their whole life… well, that is its own post really)

  13. Da Xiangchang Says: October 5, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    China’s “Letting the Kid’s Fly” is definitely better than Washington’s current “Opening the Kid’s Fly” scandal.

  14. I love this post, John. It depicts a simple scene, but with great thoughtfulness.

    Saludos

  15. There are certain trends/traits/generalizations that are valid to some extent about any country or people, but in my travels and stays in different countries, I have come to the conclusion that there are people of all kinds in every country, and thus the expression “people are people” wherever you go, and I think we, here in the comments section, all know it too. So what makes this a heart warming story, is really John’s happiness at being wrong this time. He has proven again and again that he is a decent guy, and that’s why we like him and like his blog.

    Faisal

  16. It’s hard to find something positive about a living in a foreign country that also makes a good story. This is one of them.

    So many foreigner in China blogs sound like they hate the place, yet if you ask them, they’ll respond that they adore China, and there are, in fact, a lot of little, simple moments like the one John wrote about that drive that love.

  17. John, is that a photo of the kid? Hard to tell, but he looks more like 2 or so. Not that it matters!…

  18. (all the above only relates to my opinion of young kids… as for the mamma’s boys that can’t do their own laundry or even cook some 方便面 by themselves because they’ve been babied their whole life… well, that is its own post really)

    Oh yeah. I’ve dated Southern momma’s boys, but Chinese momma’s boys are truly in a class of their own.

    Cute post, John.

  19. Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone.

    Kelly T,

    No, that’s not the kid. Come to think of it, though, the actual kid was probably 2 or 3 rather than 3 or 4. Oh well.

  20. 这么小就能飞了!
    我长这么大,老爸老妈都不给我飞。。。

  21. Greg Pasden - John's cuz Says: October 6, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    John, Believe it or not, that Is how I first got started as well… but my Dad used a wagon instead and I did go over the front end of it because it stopped quickly and I went face first into a pond. But that did not deter me from pursuing the adventurous dream… To become a pilot. Now, not only am I a pilot, but I’m an International airline pilot, a part time military pilot and a private pilot. I think it’s the best job in the world. See alot of the world (the people and the countries) and view it from the best window seat.

    I hope to see you in November. I’ll be back to PVG then.

    Take care always
    Greg

  22. One of your best posts ever.

  23. So many foreigner in China blogs sound like they hate the place, yet if you ask them, they’ll respond that they adore China

    Nope…China’s f’in sucks beyond words…here five years… and I can’t wait ’till the wife’s Green Card visa arrives so we can get the hell out. I’m always astounded at the Kool Aid anyone drank who likes it here. Ouside of Shanghai…Why?? Really?? The 2-kuai dumplings? 5,000 years of cultue? That’s it? You must be kidding. I just really don’t get it, Pengyoumen. So..I’m doing what you tell all Laowai who complain…I’m leaving. Someday. 🙂 Sank you.

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