Three retired colleagues with three different children spark reflections on their current situations.
Colleague A, whose child is the epitome of academic excellence.
From primary school to middle school and then to high school, the child has never ranked second. As hoped, they successfully entered one of the top universities in the country. After graduating from undergraduate studies, they pursued a master’s degree at a prestigious American university with a full scholarship. They even regularly send dollars back home without relying on their parents for a single penny.
After completing their doctoral studies, they decided to work in the United States and started a family with another international student.
With such a successful child, A should be content, right?
But that’s not the case.
Whenever the child is mentioned, A’s eyes often well up with tears.
Now that the couple is retired and financially well-off, one would think they have leisure time. However, going to the United States poses challenges due to unfamiliarity with the surroundings and language barriers. On the other hand, staying in their home country means being separated from their only child by thousands of miles, depriving them of even the most basic sense of familial closeness.
It is precisely because they raised their child to be so exceptional that their child has drifted further and further away from them.
Thinking about the future and the dilemmas and helplessness it brings, it is truly difficult to express in words.
Colleague B’s child is also remarkably talented but did not choose to go abroad. Instead, they settled in Beijing, got married, and started a family.
B has dedicated their entire life savings to buying a small-sized apartment for their child in Beijing, although it was only the down payment.
In a time when cars have become a common means of transportation, B still doesn’t own one. This is because, with their income in our small city, even if they were to save every penny without spending on food or drinks, it would barely be enough to buy a square meter of property in Beijing! They need to save every cent to lighten the burden on their family.
It can be said that B has spent their entire life striving for those few dozen square meters of housing in Beijing.
Having raised an exceptional child, B has sacrificed a lifetime of hard work, such is their fate.
Colleague C’s child represents a different type of situation.
Throughout their schooling, they lacked ambition and achieved poor grades. In the end, they obtained a degree without much effort and returned to our small city, where they secured a low-pressure job with limited income through connections.
Recently, they got married, and their parents fully funded the purchase of a spacious three-bedroom apartment. The bride’s family even provided a small car as part of the dowry. Right from the start, they had everything they needed for a comfortable life.
What’s more, their new home is conveniently situated close to both sets of grandparents, just a stone’s throw away. They can easily drop by to visit during weekdays, and on weekends, the entire family can gather together. Their everyday life is filled with contentment and abundance.
Interestingly, after expressing our sentiments, none of us went home and told our children to stop studying hard. We continued to urge them to do their homework and enroll in tutoring classes without loosening our grip on their education.
The more exceptional our children are, the more we contribute to the development of others, and the farther they drift away from us. We understand this principle. However, we also know that the purpose of our lives is not solely for ourselves but for our children.
Of course, success is not defined solely by going abroad or staying in a big city. However, at the very least, we should strive to make our children outstanding, providing them with a broader stage and more choices in life.
In a letter to her son, Long Yingtai wrote:
“My child, I ask you to study hard, not because I want you to compare your grades with others, but because I hope you will have the power of choice in the future. The choice to pursue meaningful and fulfilling work, rather than being forced to make a living.”
Perhaps, this is the essence of education and learning.
Every parent hopes that their child will have the ability to soar higher and farther.
And every child should understand their parents’ heartfelt intentions and should also understand the reluctance and pain they feel when they let go.