John’s Series 12 – What is love?



Last week John’s English teacher told us that John could not finish writing his homework: “What is love?” as John seemed that he did not understand “love”.

I was quite surprised at this as we have loved John so much but he even did not know “love”? I thought about how to start the conversation with John and explain “what is love” to help him understand. As the only child in the family, my husband and I have devoted all our attention and love on him.

The English teacher reminded me that maybe Chinese parents seldom say, “I love you” to our child. I suddenly realized that it is true. I even haven’t heard that I was loved from my parents. Although I know that my parents love me so much.

I continued searching “love” in my mind for a while. Has my husband said he loves me? I counted and I don’t remember. Perhaps he said it to me not more than 3 times in the past 10+ years. Who said, “I love you” in my life? NO ONE else! But have I been LOVED? Of course! I can feel it from my husband, my parents, and my grandparents. They do love me a lot. They just seldom say that word “love” to me.

Then how to explain, “what is love” to John? I talked with John that night and asked John this question again. “When can you feel we love you?”

My John thought quite hard. Then he said: “ Maybe when you purchased a new gift for me?”

I smiled and said: “This is quite good. Is there any other time you can feel that we love you?”

He followed my question and thought about it again then he replied: “Maybe when you brought me to White Spot or Boston Pizza?”

Although I was a bit disappointed about the answer, I said to myself that it was normal. I don’t think I could have answered the question better than John if I was a kid as lots of the time, Chinese children can “feel” the love, but have not been told that their parents love them.

I tried to think about the things I have done as examples to show John that I love him so much.[adToAppearHere]

Initially, I thought I would tell him this way. “John, one of the reasons I came to Canada was to let you have a better education. I left my first and my beloved company because of you. I also left my parents and family and came here alone for the first 3 years. I learnt how to cook nice and nutritious meals for you after I came to Canada. Before I came to Canada, I didn’t even know how to cook. I became an “expert” in children’s play activities and places in Vancouver because I wanted to bring you and your friends there to have a good time. I watched so many Children’s movies with you after I came to Vancouver two years ago. When you were away and on your first camp, I could not sleep well because I missed you so much…I love you so much and have done a lot for you. Can you feel it?..”

Soon I realized that I was wrong. I had used traditional Chinese parents thinking style on this topic. As a child, his theory is very simple; sometimes we adults cannot stay on the same simple page.

Before I shared John my story. John shared me a story he read before. He said that in the story, there is a mama bear and a baby bear. Everyday, mama bear said to the baby bear “I love you” before the baby bear went to sleep and kissed him good night. Baby bear has nice sleeps always. One night, mama bear was too busy and forgot to say, “I love you” to the baby bear. Then baby bear was sad and was upset before sleeping. He thought maybe he had done something wrong and mama bear did not love him anymore.

I told John that of course the mama bear loves the baby bear so much and she always will love him. Every mama in the world loves her child.

John said but the mama bear did not say that to baby bear, so he was sad.

Oh! What an obvious mistake I made!! I never thought about saying, “I love you” to my John. In my childhood and Chinese culture we don’t say I love you verbally to express our love often. Lots of times we implied “love” in lots of ways everyday.

When I was a child, if I thought about “love” from my parents, I may have felt the same way as John. Some deep memories in my mind were that my mother purchased me beautiful new clothes, shoes and accessories. My father purchased me chocolates and gifts from his business trips and sometimes we had family trips, and it was fun.

Where else could I feel love in my childhood? Was I hugged, kissed good night or told that I was loved? None of them, but was I loved? Of course! I could feel the deep love from my parents. I knew that they did so much for me just like I have done for John. I could sometimes feel that in the middle of the night, Mom came to my room and see if my quilt was on me. At that time we didn’t have a heater. Children could easily catch a cold in winter because they always kicked the quilts off during sleep. Traditional Chinese parents check several times whether their children were sleeping well or not. Even now, we have air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter, we still like to check on our children during the night to make sure they have their quilts on.

I remember that when I was sick, my mother cuddled me cozily in my bed and ran back and forth between the kitchen and my room. She made all sorts of delicious foods for me such as chicken soup, meat and mixed vegetable soup with rice. I sometimes hoped that I could be sick longer as I wouldn’t have to work on my homework. Fast forward, when John was sick, I did the same thing to him. I cooked easy-to-digest and homey food – fish congee, chicken soup, soft noodles or rice for him and accompanied him to sleep.

But how can John feel my love? It is so simple just like mama bear and baby bear.

Before John goes to bed, I hugged him and kissed him good night. I said “I love you, John.”

This is our new routine; John is very happy and he says “I love you too Mom.” And then I hug him and kiss him good night.[adToAppearHere]

So although love is not that simple, we can make it simple to be felt. Just say “I love you” to our loved ones. Don’t imply it or make the other party guess it. Don’t make it complicated, just say “I love you”, the other party can immediately know.