This is an article I wrote in June for a column in the “Psychology monthly”. On the subject of educating a daughter, I don’t have a particular secret, I can only count myself as a “blind elephant”, but I have also committed many mistakes, in the future, I will continue to write, sharing with everyone, and exploring with my daughter. Yesterday morning, in the rain, my little daughter went to the supermarket on her own, and prepared a full meal for me at noon, to celebrate father’s day for me. I hereby express my thanks for my daughter’s love. 2012, 18 June, 10:00, Chengdu.
My daughter, who is in the first year of high school, once came back from school, panting, and before she got time to sit down, “requested” me to order two copies of a book for her online. The books were called “For D, a love story”, and written by the French philosopher Gorz. “One is for me to read, one is a birthday gift for one of my friends,” she said. I whispered to myself, there’s thousands of books at home, and she doesn’t particularly like them, what kind of book is so attractive then?
As the translator says, I had not heard of that Gorz before, but this little booklet on love sold unexpectedly well in China. It begins and ends with the following paragraph: “You’ll be eighty two years old soon. You’re six centimeters shorter than you were, and weigh only forty-five kilos. But you’re as beautiful and elegant as ever, and you still make my heart move. We’ve spent fifty-eight years together, but my love for you is just getting stronger.” After writing this, eighty-four year old Gorz and his eighty two year old wife D (Dorine), who was suffering from illness, both committed suicide by gas, and passed away, in a decision of absolute, eternal love.
Although it is just a short book, but the book still contains many details about the loving life of Gorz and Dorine, and the hardships and joys they share are extremely moving. My daughter marked many paragraphs in the book, and wrote little commentaries, half in Chinese, half in English. For instance, after an assessment of Gorz by the translator Yuan Xiao, saying “Gorz has more than philosophical ambition — he wants to change the way this world understands ambition —but he could not change his own timidity, mediocrity and cowardice in daily life,” she wrote “well said”. In the text proper, it says “‘your life is about writing, so write’, you repeated. As if your mission was to consolidate my exsitence”, she commented: “moving”; “for me, hardship has the face of fear”, she commented: “feel the same way”; “I have been thinking, when you’re with me, do you want solitude even more than when you’re alone?”, she commented“yeah…I think so”.
Seeing my daughter so seriously and carefully think about love, and seeing a comment in the book on the boy she likes (on the title page there’re her dedication to three persons imitating the dedication to D), my heart was filled with happiness. Her mother and I don’t think that “having a crush on” or “being in love” is a mistake, and we personally got our daughter gifts for the boy she likes. I told her that, although it’s banned in the school, good feelings should not be stigmatized, even less demonized, and she should therefore not feel any fear. In my opinion, not allowing male and female students in full transformation to experience the seeds of love is like preventing flowers from opening, it is going against humanity, and for that reason, I really appreciate what the scholar Mrs Chen Yijun said” “when children write a love letter, teachers and parents should not react with anger and tear it up, but if possible, help them change the punctuation, refine the wording and find ways to be more touching.”
Every Sunday at my place, I teach my daughter and the children of a few friends classics, and my first lesson consists of two one sentence letters of eternal love. The first is from Qian Lu, “Flowers on the field path are blooming brightly, you needn’t hurry back”; the second is an anonymous piece from wooden strips of Han Dynasty at Juyan,saying “I dedicate the beautiful jade to Chunjun in the hope of not forgetting each other.” Love (certainly including love to your family and friends) needs to be in time because sometimes when you miss it, it’s not only a miss; you may lose the happiness in your life.In my class, I tell the little kids, everyone is heading towards death, and every day that you live is a day off your life, and so you want to live a colourful life, you want to live a life bathed in love, not bound by hatred. Because in this world, there’s no hatred you can’t let go of – there’s only love that comes too late.
2012, 27 April, Chengdu.
2012, 27 April, Chengdu.
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