and my parents were out to dinner one night, my older brother (I won’t mention any names) rolled up a small piece of cardboard into a cigarettelike form and told me to smoke it as he lit the other end with a match. Besides singeing the tips of my eyelashes, I distinctly remember taking a big breath in (as my mother did on her long brown Mores) and choking up a lung. See, back in the 1960’s when you had six children, you figure as a parent it’s likely you just might ‘lose” a child or two along the way and well, so be it. We didn’t wear seatbelts, we played in the streets unnattended and/or a neighbor’s alcoholic uncle was sent over to babysit.
I think about this often in China when I see these parents and grandparents doting over their one child and how different it is for all of them. So much effort and attention is put on the child…so much pressure too. Every movement gets documented on camera. Education 6-7 days of week. But who’s going to make them cardboard cigarettes?! or tease them that they’ll NEVER be conductor of the family-room play train because they’re the baby?! Or how you have to FIGHT for things like when you’re eating neopolitan ice cream and you don’t want to get stuck with only strawberry!