Originally written for New Express, a major Chinese newspaper…
For the most part, my wife and I agree on how to raise my son. He is almost one and a half years old and we take a very free approach with him. We let him run through the tall grasses, play in the mud, climb everything, go where he wants, make art with his food and chase after little animals and bugs around. He loves it, we love it, but my mother-in-law doesn’t. My mother in law gives us a big frown every time she sees this, “this isn’t the Chinese way” she tells us, but it is our way, and we feel it will let him grow up into the man he wants to me.
Every week she asks us to cut his hair, we won’t, we don’t want him to be bald like all the little Chinese boys and girls around him. Every month she tells my wife to stop breast-feeding, she won’t, and I support her. But even though it may seem like me and my wife always agrees how to raise my son, we don’t. We have our own disagreements.
I bite my son, I nibble on his arms and eat his legs. I am a wolf and he is my puppy. He can’t stop laughing and when I stop he will pounce on me, smile, then take a bite out of my arm. It doesn’t hurt, just like a puppy, he knows it’s just a game and doesn’t so much “bite me”, as he does just hold my skin or fingers in his mouth.
I play with him this way because I think I am teaching him how to play, how to be wild, and how to enjoy life. My wife thinks I am teaching him how to be a bad boy, how to bite and how to fight. She is afraid he will grow up to be aggressive and even more afraid he will bite her while she is breastfeeding him. Strangely enough, my mother in law approves the way I play with my son. “They are both animals, let them be animals,” she says as my sons laughs reverberate through the house.