The mother, interpreting her own daughter’s first love, translated…
On the eve of graduation, the romance of Charlotte and How-Tai Chang got its third resuscitation.
“Hey, what did How-Tai give you for graduation?”, I’d asked, curiously. And that, was my mistake, because, Charlotte started ranting about it. “He’s totally unromantic, he wouldn’t give me ANY presents at all!”, hearing Ms. Charlotte, she’d wanted some sort of a present from How-Tai. “You think, that giving you presents is equivalent to being romantic?”, “Surely!”, Ms. Charlotte got into the soap opera mode now. “Gary Ma had a crush on Si-Ting Chiu for three years, and, they’d never started dating at all. But, Gary Ma gave a lot of dolls to Si-Ting Chiu.” Up to here, Ms. Charlotte changed her tones, it’d turned from anger to this overwhelming sorrow, she’s a few steps from muffling up and crying aloud, “And I, never got even a SIMPLE Teddy bear!”
“You know what? Gift giving is a sort of a simple, romantic gesture, but, it’s very hard, to manage it correctly. So what if you have a bed full of stuffed toys? Maybe one day, you won’t even remember, WHO they’re all from. But, what you will remember, would be the smaller sorts of romantic things that you and your lover shared.”
Charlotte took out the diary she’d kept of her relationship with How-Tai, and started flipping through what she’d recorded soon enough, “Here it is! Every day he would call me to wake me up, the first line would always be, ‘sweetheart, time to get up!’, he’d feared that I may be blowing him off, and specified that I got to the fridge, and take out the ice bins and shake it for him to hear. As I arrived in school, he saw me walking in from the third floor, he’d rushed downstairs, to carry my bags for me. There was once, at the classroom cleaning time, when I’d dirtied my feet, I went to the sink to wash myself. He’d told me not to move, worried, that I might get my feet dirty again, and so, he’d, carried me into the class. After swim class, How-Tai would blowdry my hair, because I have long hair, and he worried that if my hair wasn’t completely dried, I’ll get a cold.”
“That is not a show of love, then, WHAT is? In my mother’s time, there was an American film, ‘Out of Africa’; with the male lead, washing the female lead’s hair, and, the scene where he blew dry her hair, was a classic. Do you know HOW many girls dreamed that their guys would do that? Ms. Charlotte…………”
Before I finished, Charlotte continued flipping through her diary, and had that “I’m so blessed” look on her face. “Oh, and there’s this time, when after school, it’d started to rain, and I’d not have an umbrella, How-Tai worried that I’d get wet, he’d held the umbrella for me all the way home. As we’d arrived at my place, I saw how he was half-wet, he looked so beat up, that, was really very cute!”, Cute? Had How-Tai’s parents seen him like that, they would’ve totally worried if their son will catch a cold.
Hearing our children tell the tales of their love surely is, interesting. But, as your child started posing in love, started showing their affections in front of you, it’s, nothing fun then. Several times, Charlotte had asked her classmates home to watch the movies, the kids sat close to one another, snacking, drinking coke. Charlotte and How-Tai sat next to each other, leaning against each other, it’d made my blood pressure rise, but I’d still kept my cool, “These two classmates, do sit up straight, don’t lean.”
I truly hoped, that my voices wasn’t shaking too hard. No matter how much understanding you may have of how the younger generations showed their love, it’s more open than the way we’d done it, and, it’d, made my heart falter. The kids in this generations, are more opened than our views on the bodies and expressions of love. I’d thought about it, could it be, that I’m just, too conservative? Could it be, that I’m just, open on the outside, but deep down, I’m, a stickler for the rules? No matter what, my highest rule is: Don’t get PAST that line of defense of SEX.
The first time that Charlotte had her period, I’d congratulated her on growing up. I’d told her, that girls must cherish their own bodies, and learn to separate romance from SEX. Especially, before her body was mature enough, she should NEVER taste the forbidden fruits, otherwise, it would cause stresses to her body and her mind, even damages too.
This is a simple reasoning, they’re still in school, they’re yet to become independent in the psyche or the economics. If they’d had a baby, what should they do? Who should be made responsible? I’d wanted Charlotte, to remember our women’s talk to heart. In the process of dating members of the opposite sex, she shouldn’t, be making opportunities for the males to cross the lines. As for other situations, we chose to respect and give her our blessings for it. I’d told Charlotte in a serious manner, that as a mother, I totally trust, that she is able to exert self-control in this area.
Anybody can say the sweetest words. But, thinking about it, it surely, IS very, difficult to accomplish. Especially as we’d learned, that the very first time that American teens had their first experience in SEX is at age sixteen on average, and for the males in Taiwan, it’s eighteen, seventeen for the females, we couldn’t help, but feel that shock. Plus, the statistics aren’t alive, but humans are. If Charlotte isn’t within THIS average statistics, would I become, a young grandma?
Thinking up to here, my scalp became numbed. I’d finally understood what the older generations meant by “having daughters, you will be worried”, and having sons, you won’t worry. All parents are created equal, those of you who have daughters, will totally understand where I’m coming from!
Finally, graduation came.
In the auditorium at school, all the parents cramped up the room. As the school principal spoke, the graduates spoke of their experiences for the three years, the awards ceremonies, as well as the cheering performances too. The parents who sat in the parents’ section, with those bouquets of flowers, everybody had a smartphone in hand, or a digital camera, and clicked away.
I’m bumped into How-Tai’s mom at the ceremonies. The first time we met up was on parent-teacher conference, the first time Charlotte and How-Tai broke up, and this time, we’d had that familiarity that we didn’t have before. The two of us struck up conversation, for two whole hours, standing on the bank, watching the ceremonies, as we’d chatted on the course of love of our kids.
How-Tai’s mom has her own beliefs about education, she’d allowed him to grow in an open and free home background, and it’d helped him to have that amazing self-control. I’m truly grateful for the family, for treating Charlotte so very kindly. Charlotte would often have suppers at How-Tai’s house, and would go to the family gatherings with the family too, and, How-Tai’s parents treated her like she were one of their own children too. Although it was only the second time we’d met up, our beliefs and opinions matched up well. We believed, that the course of love that our kids are involved in, is all their own, there’s no “too early” or “too late” for it, the kids found their own coming of age through being in love.
How-Tai’s mom gave Charlotte a book, “Women Who Dared”, a volume of the women who’d contributed to the world. She’d hoped, that Charlotte can borrow from their experiences, to give something back to the community as she becomes able to in the future. This gift was really thoughtful, meaningful, and deep. As a parent, I’d not prepared ANYTHING to give to How-Tai, arrived at the graduations ceremonies empty-handed. Wow, I am, exactly, like my daughter then!
That day, the whole family came, How-Tai’s parents, paternal grandparents, as well as his maternal grandmother all made it, everybody looked forward to him, reaching this milestone in his young life. After the ceremonies, Charlotte had a group photo with How-Tai and his family.
I think, that as How-Tai saw the photo at his middle school graduation, he will, think of, Charlotte.
And, if one day, they were to break up, every time that How-Tai flipped through these photographs, would Charlotte become a romantic memory, or, a nightmare?
The day finally came, for the test results to be revealed, How-Tai got into his first-choice, and Charlotte, got into the high school she’d wanted to get into. Yes, that, was the school where she thought, had the prettiest looking uniforms—An-Kang High School. As this young couple is about to march into different lives, getting into different social circles, I wonder, what their futures behold?
Maybe, they will stay lovers forever.
Or maybe, they will be best of friends their whole lives.
Or maybe, there might be some sort of a fall out, that they’d become, totally parallel lines.
No matter, they will always and forever remember, what they once had together, in the youthful days, there was, a boy, who’d, blown dry her hair, who’d, carried her on his back into class, and, walked home in the rain, holding the umbrella for her…………..these priceless romance, imprinted, deeply, into the memories.
As the breezes of memories blew by, it would, bring back that smile. Like the line from the movie, “My Adolescent Years”, “Thank you, for being a part of my youth.”
So, this, is the experience of your daughter’s first love, and, they’d started out in middle school, and, had weathered through their shared experiences, and now, as both children are about to embark on the next stages of their separate lives, nobody KNOWS what’s going to happen to these young lovers, but, one thing can be certain, that they’d left this imprint of love in each other’s young lives.