Special Focus

Tour with My Parents让父母­老得慢一点

- By Liu Tong

At each Spring Festival, as soon as I arrived home, I would slam down my luggage and rush out to meet friends. My parents would shout from behind me, “When will you be back? Please make it earlier.”

“We haven’t seen each other for one year,” I replied without looking back. “It will be a little late.”

When we met back in Beijing, all of my friends were a little upset, for “we never seemed to spend much time with our parents.”

In fact, I spent more time with my friends than with my parents.

I only ate at home three times, while my parents cooked a lot of delicacies.

They were all asleep when I got home. And the next day when I woke up at noon, I’d hurry to have lunch out with friends. It seems that each time I go home, I don’t really talk with my parents for more than ten minutes. Nor do I have a good look at them. I don’t even bother to listen to their nagging—not knowing whether they can chat through WeChat, and what we know about our parents seems frozen in a longago memory.

Several friends would regret having behaved to their parents like this, but as sons or daughters, they had their own worries and difficulti­es.

Some were afraid that they would be pushed to get married when they talked with their parents.

Some were afraid of quarrels because they differed a lot from their parents in their shopping behaviors.

Some were afraid of embarrassm­ent because they had no idea how to communicat­e with their parents.

Even if we chose to stay with our parents, how could we promise to make them happy and feel at ease?

Finally, I advised, “Why not organize a travel group touring with our parents? They are almost the same age and share common topics of interest. Besides, it would be easier for our families to take care of each other together.”

A chain of troubles followed.

One trouble was that our parents simply didn’t want to travel during such a traditiona­l Chinese vacation as the Spring Festival. For this, we changed our plan and decided to leave on the lunar New Year’s Day, so that at least we could spend New Year’s Eve at home. The other was that our parents didn’t know each other, so it would be a little awkward when they met for the first time. Worst of all, they were not familiar with their son’s friends.

It was a challengin­g and timeconsum­ing task to get them acquainted, but since we decided to do so, we were prepared to spend time on it.

Since then, whenever a friend’s parents came to Beijing, all other friends in our circle would show up to eat, drink, and chat together. The parents would then be relieved to see that their child had such a group of funny, good-natured, and hard-working friends.

Gradually, we have all got to know each other’s parents.

The second step we took was to bring parents to a friend’s hometown on holidays, which helped some parents get familiar easily.

My father was good at drinking. So one day, he invited my good friend Will and his father, who is fond of liquor, to my hometown. At lunch, Will was a little timid at first, so he cautiously poured liquor into a small baijiu cup to make a polite toast to my father. However, my father picked up the mug (liquor divider) in front of him and told Will’s father, “Hey, my friend, since this is the first time we’ve met, let’s just finish the mug. You know the saying? Bosom friends gulp it down; nodding acquaintan­ces take a sip.” Having never heard such a jingle before, Will’s father was stunned for a moment and then emptied the mug unconsciou­sly. Will’s mother and mine were extremely worried right there.

My father patted Will’s father on his shoulder and said, “Bravo, buddy!”

Soon, the fathers’ faces flushed. Will and I exchanged glances, both convinced that they’d became brothers as we did.

The mothers on the other side, unhappy about their husbands’ drinking, joined hands to protest and become sisters too.

Will’s father said, “Tongtong’s father, I have another good friend, Dada’s father, who is also fond of drinking and loyal to friends. Next time let’s drink with him together.”

Dada clapped and echoed, “Next time you drink, I’ll bring an anti-alcohol dose. It will make you feel more comfortabl­e after drinking.”

It took about two years for the four friends’ parents to get to know us, and for all our parents to get acquainted and familiar with each other.

Last year, we formed a tour

group of eight elders and four youths to go swimming on a tropical island.

This year, we went to a hot spring in the Snowy Mountain. Snow is quite common in Chenzhou City, Hunan, so my parents said,

“We know enough about snow, but we will follow your decision.”

When we went out of the hotel, it was snowing heavily, blanketing the ground. When she caught the sight of it, my mother got excited and exclaimed, “Wow! I’ve never seen such heavy snow in my entire life!”

“Mom, go play in the snow, and I’ll take a beautiful picture for you.”

My mother ran merrily to lie down in the snow and began to pose. I had never seen my mother so ecstatic before. Suddenly I stopped taking a picture. Instead, I switched to video mode to record the moment—my mother looked so overjoyed and childlike. Now I always habitually lie to her that I will take good pictures of her while making videos instead.

I often say to her, “Mom, you would look prettier if you jump high in the snow. Come on, jump...”

Sharing the same hotel room with my parents, I came to know when my parents usually got up. My father was the first to go to the bathroom in the morning, and my mother spoke loudly after waking up, unaware that I was still asleep. I used to think my father snored so loudly that I got up in the middle of the night to shake him. But this time I found that his snoring was wholly drowned out by my mother’s.

It has turned out that my mother was the real snorer when she’s exhausted.

They even didn’t know how to use a smart toilet or how to tell a hotel shampoo from a shower gel.

They would get up to turn off the lights, not knowing that there was a switch at the bedside.

They were afraid to eat the free snacks in the room for fear of being overcharge­d.

My mom had a habit of traveling with a portable washbasin and a portable hanger, because every day she had to wash her own lingerie, but she couldn’t find a place to dry it.

I said, “Mom, don’t bring the washbasin when you go traveling. Just bring a few more clothes. It’s easier to wash them when you return home.”

On the plane back to Beijing,

Will said, “I’m not sleepy at all now. Looking through the photos we took, I just feel that every moment we caught was filled with happiness and every shot was so precious.”

Our parents have gone from a little awkwardnes­s in the first year to full relaxation and even over-indulging this year, from a lack of understand­ing of the outside world and a sense of self-preservati­on resulting from tension, to the point where every question and action came naturally. Thinking about that, it’s really fun to see how curious and

rebellious they’ve become, like a child who has entered a new world. The tension, impatience, and quarrels in our family of three diminished a lot on the journey. It costs a man their whole life to learn, grow up, and respect each other.

Seeing our parents at this time, we naturally recollect our childhood, as if we would lend more time to each other in the circle of life.

I suddenly became scared that they were getting older and older.

But when I saw their excitement and exhilarati­on when facing new experience­s, I knew they were not old, but just a little bored being in the same place for so long.

If I lend them some time, they will age slowly.

(FromRemain­ing Independen­t , Beijing United Publishing Company. Translatio­n: Qing Run)

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