Today, I’m sharing a short story a reader shared about her white American daughter Jessica, who she introduced to a lovely young Chinese man that has brought happiness to the both of them.
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My daughter Jessica is as American peaches and cream as you get, and James, who has been in the U.S. for two years, is shy, a little awkward, respectful, brilliant and just a bit goofy. He and my daughter share a love of cats, music, Volkswagen Beetles, and all things anime and “cute.” They text off and on all day and never run out of things to say.
Ordinarily I’d be a little reluctant to let my daughter, who is in her late teens, get close to someone four years older, but James is as innocent as she is (they’ve both never dated anyone before), and I got to know James pretty well over the past couple of years and actually introduced him to my daughter.
Right after I introduced them, a group of us went to dinner for my birthday. Jessica was very shy and withdrawn. And James, knowing that Jessica’s favorite music group is Owl City, arranged with the restaurant somehow to play only Owl City music the entire time. A couple of weeks ago he bought her Hello Kitty Converse shoes, and Jessica reciprocated by giving him no-bake cookies (which I got to make, since Jessica tends to burn things up when she cooks – LOL). Next came snacks from the Asian market that James determined were all “cute,” and banana bread (baked by me, of course) was Jessica’s next thank-you offering. I’ve told her it’s okay to accept these things from James as long as she remembers to show him kindness as well and not just accept gifts as her due.
I have no idea what will happen in the future, but I love this young man and how well he treats both me and my daughter.
I wish I could tell every young Chinese man out there, both in the U.S. and in China, not to give up hope; that there are, indeed, lovely young American women who think Chinese men are desirable and fun, girls who think these young men are exactly what a man should be. Girls who are wise enough to look at a person’s heart and character instead.
Sometimes you never know where a relationship — or unexpected pregnancy — will take you. For the anonymous author of this post, hers led to a baby son and, later, papers from her boyfriend’s lawyer.
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“It’s a joke,” I declare, staring at my pregnancy test, seeing a plus sign in one window and a line in another one. The line fades away. I pick up instructions, studying the text, but no matter how it looks, if both windows have lines, pregnancy is imminent.
“It’s a joke, a joke.”
Years ago, I would have wanted to find myself pregnant. Not because I was ready, but simply because it would have been with someone I loved. That day, little did I know that I would fall into a bottomless pit of my relationship with the father of my baby.
Fast forward to few weeks later. The doctor confirmed my pregnancy as my boyfriend, my mother and I come back for an ultrasound to find out the age of my baby. That day I was instructed to drink a lot of water few hours before and not go to the bathroom. Disbelief settled inside as I watched women enter with their husbands/boyfriends. I wondered how it will be to see my child on the screen, and what my child will look like.
Finally, my mother, my boyfriend and I enter into the ultrasound room. I recall undressing, a generous amount of special lube being squeezed onto my belly and without preamble I see my baby, the size of a small pea. Then a loud sound begins echoing throughout the room, fast beats that sound almost frog-like. The baby’s heartbeat, I realize, stunned at the idea that my baby has developed a heartbeat. I turn to my boyfriend, wondering if he is sharing in my emotions, but he is blank. When I asked him, he says something like this is routine for him, which disappoints me greatly. I learn that the baby is younger than thought; seven or so weeks instead of nine.
Days become months, and the seasons pass. My boyfriend is busy with nursing school, dealing with what I will call the “mid-life” crisis minus the motorcycle and a 6’0 foot tall Amazon blonde who whispers sweet forevers. I live with my parents as I check my phone, seeing texts sometimes but not everyday as I hope.
He should text more. He should care more.
I am expecting our first child and find myself feeling guilty and uncertain that things have turned out the way they did. His first words when I mentioned my pregnancy? “It’s not the right time, not the right time.” I grind my teeth. Tell that to our child who has no concept of time and continues to grow. Babies, as I learned, have a very poor sense of timing.
My feelings towards him are less and less certain and become more conflicted. In some cases he and my mom disagree. For example, the changing table. He is unemployed, but seems to have savings. Yet he sees no need to spend money on a changing table. His solution? Use newspapers on the sofa to change our child. (Luckily my father’s friend lent us a changing table, thus the idea of newspapers on sofa is nixed.) School work comes first, I come last, almost an afterthought. “If he has time to eat and go to the bathroom, then he has time to text you,” my mother tells me. “Not an excuse.” I agree. Really hard to argue with that logic.
One of my favorite days of the year is the day I gave birth. What is interesting is that our child’s birth is the anniversary of when my boyfriend first arrived in America. Perhaps those two days are the last time I felt connected and happy with him.
Afterwards, little by little we descended into Dante’s nine circles of hell.
While the birth was easy thanks to an epidural, the aftermath is a war. I begin the losing battle of breast-feeding our son. The reason my boyfriend supports me? “It’s cheaper than buying formula.” What about the baby’s health and all those benefits? “That, too,” he adds as an afterthought.
After the birth, my body is shattered, battered, even requiring a gallbladder surgery where I had to spend my first mother’s day in a hospital. My boyfriend was only there afterwards and not when I needed him the most; before the surgery.
My mind tries to adjust to having a crying infant in the house that needs me every two hours to feed him and change his diapers. My boyfriend is forty minutes away, yet school and studies in nursing consume all his thoughts. I barely sleep as I need to get up and feed my son formula during the night. He comes once a week, maybe once every few weeks. “Please help me at night,” I ask him one day. “I need my sleep,” he says. What about me, I want to ask him. Don’t I need my sleep as well? I have a son to take care of, yet instead I am concerned about his interactions with our son because he tends to seem distant. I catch him spending more time on the computer rather than interacting with our child.
The roles become 1950s, that of a workaholic father and a stay-at-home mother trying to keep sane. We drift further and further apart as I begin to feel my needs are not being met. In addition, my parents begin to point out qualities about him that I wish I could excuse or not even notice. Our dates consist of Wal-Mart, a local Chinese supermarket and restaurants. I am closed off in front of the impenetrable wall that he is, and I feel as if I cannot share my innermost self with him for fear of being ignored or rebuffed. We get together but instead of words, food speaks to us. It is an isolating experience where I enjoy the taste far more than his company.
An accumulation of hurt, pain and distance take a toll when all becomes unleashed later that year, the last time he and I were truly happy together. As we walk around the lake, all that came to me is the idea of fireworks, the last happy moments before hell is unleashed in Chinese Paladin as well as Dream of the Red Chamber before death enters into the picture.
Summer weather teases the senses with heat as he asks me about moving to an island overseas. He got offered a great job. There’s a huge relocation bonus if my son and I travel there with him.
No, I answer him. The baby will be too young. There will be diseases there like Hepatitis A, typhoid. There’s the threat of hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis, plus, only two hospitals for the entire island.
After listening, he threatens to take our son there.
I am at loss for words. Has he said what I thought he said? He didn’t. He couldn’t. Yet the words paralyzed me.
He says he wants to be family, and wants to be together. His mother traveled from Massachusetts to where I live and gave me bracelets as a dowry along with a bunch of gifts for our son.
Yet he threatened the unthinkable.
Weeks later, money divides us further as misunderstandings arise about how much to pay my family child support. Even though his second offer was acceptable to me, I discovered I’m late in answering him – he has already called in a lawyer.
I call him and beg him to get rid of the lawyer; I agreed to his second sum payment. “It’s out of my hands, out of my hands,” he repeats over and over to my pleas.
I hang up the phone, angry and frightened by the possibility of a lawsuit.
Days later, I get the papers served. He is in the house as a witness to my emotions. I countersue him back for child support, to show him that in this one instance, I will not be cowered down.
Thus ended our relationship, broken by misunderstandings and greed.
Editor’s note: the anonymous author of this post is still fighting to keep her son.
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