Originally written for New Express, a major Chinese newspaper…
Few if any other place in the world is as urban as China. Mega city after mega city crowd the coastal areas. In America a small city might have 200,000 people and a town might have 20,000. But in China small cities have millions and towns still have hundreds of thousands of people. In this world of super cities, where skyscrapers are more numerous then stars, my wife and I are trying to raise my son in as close-to-nature way as possible. We do the obvious: we buy all organic vegetables, rice and grains, and keep him away from the sugar loaded snacks that cover every shelf, but we also go a lot farther than that.
My son’s friends push around plastic cars and trucks, or tap angry birds on IPad screens. I’ve let my son join them, see what they are doing, but he always returns to play with the toys that he loves, the toys of the world. I take my son into knee (his knee) high grasses where his sharp eyes hunt for grasshoppers. He chases them, he catches them, and he waves bye-bye to them as he lets them go back into the wild. In our home he keeps vigilance for lizards, and when he sees one, he will chase it around the walls, watching as it hides and smiling as he escapes him. When bugs and lizards are not around, he plays with leaves, sticks and stones, finding intricate ways to pile them together inside of daddies’ briefcase and mommy’s blender. After an hour of playing, he doesn’t sit down with coco cola, but drags a coconut from the kitchen and hands it to me.
My wife and I have a lot of plans for our son, we want him to have a natural youth in the modern world. We know it wont be easy, but we will work hard because we know it will be worth it.