Saying "I love you" with a toilet: of indirect displays of love in Chinese families | Speaking of China

19 Responses

  1. hanmeng
    hanmeng September 12, 2009 at 8:23 am | | Reply

    When my wife & I visited her family, I thought I was making sure to partake pretty much equally from each of the shared dishes on the dinner table, but without having noticeably stared at me, my 丈母娘 noticed which ones I ate more of, and would be sure to cook the same stuff for me the next time.

  2. spicy milk cat
    spicy milk cat September 12, 2009 at 8:08 pm | | Reply

    Wow, awesome stories, thanks for giving us such wonderful insight! I wonder though, how do you distinguish between ordinary gestures of warmth and kindness and true acts of love, if the act goes unspoken?

    Toilet= love. That much is obvious. I refer to the rest. 🙂

    ~~ ~~

  3. Carrie
    Carrie September 13, 2009 at 11:25 pm | | Reply

    Hi Jocelyn,

    Thank you SO much for writing this piece. I found your site through a friend’s Facebook posting, and I am so moved by your material!

    I am Chinese American, born and raised in Los Angeles, and growing up I never understood why my parents and family weren’t as openly affectionate as my “Americanized” peers. This piece was a PERFECT explanation.

    Thank you. 🙂

    Warm regards,

  4. Andy
    Andy September 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm | | Reply

    Great stories.. very touching. Thanks for sharing.

  5. paopao
    paopao September 22, 2009 at 9:30 pm | | Reply

    He buscado un blog similar al tuyo desde hace un mes y por fin lo encuentro. Quiero que me saques de una duda, he leido muchos de tus entradas desde las ultimas cuatro horas pero, aun tengo dudas. Estoy desde hace dos semanas en una relacion amorosa con una persona relativamente mayor que yo, yo vivo en latinoamerica ambos estamos aqui pero el es natal de china. Gracias a tus entradas pude darme cuenta que los pda no son bien vistos, es por ello que cabe vez que hago una demostracion de afecto sale volando… puedes darme unos tips mas por favor? no quiero malograr la relacion con mi comportamiento.

  6. Links – Speaking of China | Daily China September 23, 2009 at 2:22 am |
  7. Tiffany
    Tiffany September 24, 2009 at 8:14 am | | Reply

    I learned, unless I want to have an hands-on experience, I don’t ask too many questions when it comes to cooking….:-)

  8. Rachel DeWoskin
    Rachel DeWoskin October 6, 2009 at 7:03 pm | | Reply

    What a generous, loving, and perceptive piece. I’m grateful to have read it and am looking forward to your first book. More! Warmly, Rachel

  9. Viktor Brech
    Viktor Brech August 23, 2010 at 7:23 am | | Reply

    Among girls in Taiwan, it seems that bringing food/drinks is a common way to express some interest in a guy. I.e. I have heard of girls preparing home-made breakfast for the co-worker they have had a secret crush on, or stopping by a guy’s student residence to drop off a cup of coffee.

    Perhaps that’s all in a different category. More to the point of your post, as a potential future son in law I found the best way to please the woman of the house is to exhibit excessive appetite for her food at all times. The point here is to go well beyond what I would consider good manners (i.e. appropriate restraint) in a Western household.

  10. jenna cody
    jenna cody May 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm | | Reply

    I know this was posted awhile ago but seems to still get a lot of reads, so it’s worth it to comment here.

    First, haha, reading that comment above about bringing food, drink, homemade breakfast etc. – oh noes! I live in Taiwan once gave some homemade cookies to a Taiwanese guy I consider a good friend. Old Armenian family recipe walnut-stuffed cookies. I was going to serve them at a party I was throwing that he couldn’t attend. I certainly hope he didn’t take that as a sign of interest (in anything more than friendship anyway)! Seeing as I’m married and he’s engaged and all.

    But speaking of that showing of indirect love – whether it be romantic, or family, or even friendly warmth and caring: the day after I found out my mom’s cancer was probably terminal (but with a good several-year prognosis at least), I thought I’d be OK so I didn’t ask my husband to stay home from work. I wasn’t OK, and several local friends came through for me. One cut out of work for a few hours to hang out with me, and another came out and had dinner with me when the first one had to go to her evening class. The friend who came out for dinner is a guy (same guy I gave the cookies to) and while we’re clearly friends, he’s never said anything along the lines of “we’re good friends”, “I care about you”, “your friendship is important” or “I’m there for you” – never hugged or anything like that. I know guys can be like that typically, but my Western guy friends are generally more open (as in, they’d actually verbalize the idea that we are good friends).

    So when this friend, who is not known for being talkative, touchy-feely or even particularly thoughtful (kind of a grump, actually), not good at all at offering comfort or sympathy, came out after work to have dinner and coffee when I needed some company when my husband and all my more “comforting” friends were busy, I knew that despite the total lack of verbalization, that he does care, does value our friendship and is there for me.

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