Sunday, June 12, 2011

Boys value more than girls - imperfect father part I

"Daddy did not even congratulate me when I told him that he had another granddaughter!"  My younger brother Yanghe told me sadly on the phone a few weeks ago.  He was upset also because this baby meant a lot to him and our father knew his struggles - it took 11 years' marriage and 2 wifes.  "He does not like the baby because it's a girl."  My bro continued.  He probably thought I would have agreed with him since I had the first-hand experience for being a "girl".  The real story here is not because my father does not like his little granddaughter, it is that he did not approve his new wife. Nevertheless my little brother's crying reminded me some of my father's imperfections.

It is not a secret that my father has a strong preference for boys, here are the evidence.

Story 1:
My parents have 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl.  Bing is the oldest son who is 2 years older than I and 12 years older than Yanghe, so my father had always expected Bing to have a son so that the family name could be passed on.  At the time when Bing married, one-child policy had already been reinforced in China.  The pressure was on.  Knowing his duty as the oldest child of the family, Bing did not wait for long to impregnate my sister-in-law.  According to the shape of her belly, everyone predicted that she was having a boy (we rely on such Old Wifes Tales to predict the baby's sex since it is illegal to determine (disclose) the gender of babies by modern technologies in China.)  My father had lived for months with the believe that he was having a grandson.  On the day that he came to know that Bing took his wife to the hospital to give birth, my father went to the market to buy a live chicken.  After spending all his day killing, cleaning, and finally cooking a delicious fresh chicken soup for my sister-in-law, my father heard Bing's birth announcement, "It's a girl!"  Bing had inherited the most evil sense of humor from my father and couldn't pass the opportunity to play a joke on his old man.  Bing rushed back home as soon as he could just to see the look on his old man's face.  Our poor father, immediately stopped what he was doing (cooking) and said, "A girl?  How?  That's not possible?!"  Seeing Bing was looking at him without an emotion, he believed Bing and said, "A girl is fine too."  Our father responded with such a deep disappointment showing on his face.  After he realized the seriousness of the possible impact, he told Bing, "Why don't you take the soup to the hospital yourself when it's done."  Our father left Bing alone with the halfway cooked chicken soup.  He had planned to go to the hospital himself with the soup so that he could meet his little grandson sooner, but a "girl" just wasn't worth of his time.

Until today, this story remains to be a classic joke of the family. "Had he (the nephew) been a girl," we always tease him, "would you ever plan to greet her at her first birthday?" 

Story 2:
I am the middle child and a girl, obviously, who is not supposed to be better than any of the boys. However, I was the one with the highest motivation to excel and to become independent ASAP.  At 16, I left home for college and at 20, I graduated and became a high school teacher.  However, after few years of teaching, I decided to go to graduate school.  While I was busy on studying for the admission tests, he said to me in a most sincere and caring tone, "haven't you had enough education? Men are already afraid of asking you out now, if you had a higher degree, where would you find a husband?!"

5 years after that, I left China for the U.S. and 17 years after that, I married to a French.  See, there is solution for every problem, father! 

Story 3:
When I was pregnant with Mia, I told my father that we were expecting a girl.  He said, "Let's see when it will be born."  And then he was holding to the hope that the ultrasound could fail sometimes.  When he confirmed the modern technology is pretty reliable, he said, "Girl is good too."  But I knew that he wished a boy since my husband is the only son in his family.  My parents-in-laws (PILs) came from France at the very day when Mia was born to visit us and help out for the begining weeks.  When I was on the phone with my father, he asked,"How did they (my PILs) take it?"  He was imagining that my PILs would be so disappointed that they would not take good care of me.  He had not met Mia until I brought her to China when she was 13 months old.  However, when I became pregnant with Remy, I told my father the news and he did not stay in China to wait to meet him.  At age of 77, he took his young wife and a 20 hour plane ride to come to the U.S. at one month prior to the birth of Remy to make sure he could personally welcome his second grandson to this world.  He stayed another 3 months to be my personal chef while his young wife nursed Remy.

My father never admits that his coming to the U.S. to meet Remy was because he was a boy though. He said it's only because the perfect timing - his young wife had to quit her job in order to accompany him for this international travel.

Do you believe him? 


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