All about Children
By: LIU Xinye, Liz
Children are the most complex and pure creatures in the world. Sometimes they are naughty. They play jokes on me or frighten me. But at other times they are nice. They treat me as their big sister.
During my stay here, I spent most of my time with local children - children dressed in school uniforms, children sitting around the chapel, children in front of the TV … Most of the time, I feel like we are just the same. But there exists minor difference between me and the local children. It’s the difference between the only children and children with siblings.
Background Information about the Current Situation
Myrna and Flora gave birth to four children. Actually, it’s not something unusual in Tubod Mar. The manager of Ocmeja marketing told me that, in Jagna, most of the families have three to five children. There are even more children in some richer families here. No wonder that when walking in the street, the most we see are the young faces.
The Philippines holds the highest population growth rate in Asia, which is largely ascribed to the fertility rate here. According to World Bank, on average, the number of births per woman in the Philippines is 2.92. In Jagna, this figure is even higher than the average. In a sense, the phenomenon is closely related to Catholic faith and tradition. They consider children as gifts from God, all letting nature take its course. “If you are a devoted Catholic, then it’s illegal for you to use any condoms.” The manager of Ocmeja marketing told me with seriousness. Besides condoms, other contraceptives like contraceptive pill and Depo Provera injection are forbidden. Abortion is not allowed in the Philippines and it is considered as murder.
A neighbor who lives opposite once had a chat with us about his family. He told us with great pity that he only has 2 children because of his wife’s bad physical condition. Then he asked: “How many children are there in your family?” We answered: “Only one.” Our neighbor looked surprised at our answer.
We are the generation called only children without any siblings. During the time when we were born and grew up, China was implementing the One Child Policy. People who violated the policy were fined a large sum of money and even lost their jobs. As a result of this policy, China maintained an ideal growth rate of population consisting with economy and social development. I don’t know whether it is a good thing or bad thing. On a national level, this policy helped to control population quantity and adjust population structure in the shortest time. However, on an individual level, it went against the wishes of some couples who want to have more children. Sometimes my parents make a complaint that one child is too few for a family.
Differences between the only children and children with siblings
As one of the only children in China, I grew up in such a context where most of my fellows are also the only child in their families. We enjoy all the love and devotion of our parents alone and sometimes take it as granted. Growing up in the company of electronic products, we don’t always feel lonely and get used to our daily life without any peers. But occasionally, I long to have a brother or sister, who can play with me and share secrets with me.
To the outside world, only children are considered as spoilt and selfish generation. Some people commented that: “No matter how old they are, they act in an immature way like a baby.” I don’t like such one-sided view but I have to admit that from my interactions with my fellows, it is true that children with siblings are more considerate than only children. They care more about the feelings of others than we do.
However, good thing is that this environment pushes me to have more independent thought and action. When my parents are around, I rely on them a lot. But when I am alone, I take care of myself and make decisions for myself without hesitation.
The four siblings of my host family live in harmony. The big brother, Aron, takes his brother and sisters to school driving a car every morning. What surprised me a lot is that he is only 17, but as a brother, he can perform his duty so well. I also found that at some nights, Ashley and Angel take turns doing homework for their little brother, Andrey, just because the homework is too time-consuming for him.
I guess I can never feel their feelings exactly to make some comparison. So, I want to do an interview and see what they say about their sisters/brothers. One afternoon, Ashley was braiding hair for Angel, her little sister. When Ashley went away to get the hair band, I seized this opportunity and threw a difficult question to Angel: “Which sibling do you like best?” “Nothing.” She said, with her eyes twinkling in slyness. I knew she was joking again.
Soon Ashley came back and continued braiding her hair. They were laughing and frolicking all the time. I kept staring at the sisters and also infected by their happiness. It dawned on me that the affection between siblings is something that can not be explained by words. These wonderful scenes I captured solve the mystery in my heart.
Thanks to the four siblings in our host family. Thanks to my adorable roommates. Thanks to all the children I encountered these days. They deliver a brand-new experience for me to live with a large family.