Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chinese moms

Here is a picture of my mom holding Hannah after she dressed her in winter pajamas (this picture was taken in Texas!)

Yesterday, John, the kids and I went to the library together after getting flu shots and then taking hundreds of Christmas cards to the post office (all I have to say is, thank goodness for self-adhesive stamps and address labels!). The morning started out rather chilly, but then got progressively bitter cold as the wind picked up. When we opened the doors to leave the library and the freezing wind hit our faces, I saw this Asian lady running toward us saying, "Oh! The baby! Cover the baby!" Now, Hannah was bundled up nice and snug and I had a blanket for her, but all this lady saw was two little bare hands sticking out of the stroller into the icy cold. So she picked up the blanket on Hannah's lap and pulled it over Hannah's hands. Even though our car was only a few more yards away, she was NOT about to let us keep moving until she thought Hannah was sufficiently covered for the remaining distance!

Now, most people would find this a bit intrusive or invasive of personal space, but I actually found it to be rather endearing. My mom, who has now lived in the States for a longer period of time than she lived in Hong Kong, is still VERY Chinese in her thinking and behavior. What I'm about to say obviously doesn't apply to every Asian individual, but I think it well describes the vast majority of Asian moms. Let me give you a few of my favorite examples...

The year after John and I got married, we went on a family vacation to Estes Park, CO. On this particular day hiking in the mountains, it was raining sporadically and my mom was making everyone put on these plastic ponchos that she got at the dollar store 'just in case'. Well, on our way up to Dream Lake, we passed by this couple with a baby in one of those hiking back packs and the baby did not have a hat on. What started as a whisper of disapproval: "Look at them. That baby should have a hat on..." embarrassingly turned into a confrontation by my Chinese mom to these perfect strangers: "You should put a hat on your baby...her head's getting wet and cold."

The winter after Christopher was born, John went with a group of people to China. While there, they traveled from city to city, much of it by train. According to John, it was standing room only for hours on the train and sweltering hot. So he was delighted to step off the train without his coat on in sub-zero temperatures. That is, until an elderly Chinese woman who spoke no English patted him on his bare arm several times and shook her finger at him!

After we got home from the library yesterday, John told me I should call my mom and tell her about the latest event that reminded us of her. (My mom knows that we get lots of laughs at her expense, but she secretly loves it!) I then began to imagine the conversation in my mind and realized that after a quick recognition of the humor in this story, she would move to justify this woman's actions and then ask me why I didn't have mittens on Hannah on such a cold day. I decided not to call, but I'll probably get a call after she reads this blog post...

This tightly swaddled baby just might pass my mom's inspection.


shellylynn said...

I love your mom so much! She has always been a gift to this family. She's a jewel. Where would we be without her "so Chinese" ways? I still cherish so many memories from when I lived with you all in Pheonixville. I have to admit though I do some of the same things. Just last night I helped a father cover his little ones legs when he was leaving Wal-Mart. It was blowing like a blizzard out there so there's my excuse!! Love you!

John & Mindy McCracken said...

John frequently points out that I am "my mother's daughter." So I'll probably become more and more like her as I age! You must have some Chinese blood in you!