When everyone was done, though, the mom told me that some of the family members were going back to
I thanked them, and started thinking about all the Chinese experiences I had had in the last day. There’s a tradition of giving kids money for Chunjie, similar to how we give presents, but the agonizing of wondering what to get people. It’s called hongbao, which means “red envelopes” because of the standard containers for the money. So through the day, the relatives would give hongbao to the little kids, and I learned how you were supposed to accept it: adamantly insist that you didn’t want it. The little boy is six, so he had his technique perfected. As soon as he saw the red envelope, he would shout “I don’t want it!” and fall on the floor hanging onto his mom’s leg like someone was going to drag him away. Then the relative would whisper something to him about how they really did want him to have it, and after he shouted his politeness a few times, his mother would tell him to say thank you. He would, then would hand the money to his mom for safekeeping and go back to playing. When the mom gave me honbao, I was tempted to be as dramatic, but let only two “Bu
I had also had my first experience being made fun of by a little kid in Chinese. We were playing cards, the boy wanted to lay down a fantastic move, but it wasn’t quite allowed, and he got really angry. The niece, the cousin, and I thought it was a little ridiculous, and after a few minutes of him acting up the cousin told me the name for his behavior in Chinese. I said that the closest thing we had was the word “temper tantrum,” but that it usually referred to two or three year olds. When this was translated with great amusement to the little boy, he felt insulted and had to retaliate, so he said in Chinese, “Pan Wei (me) is zero years old!”
My time with the family had finally come to an end. I said good bye, and got in the car with the cousin and brother, and we started driving. But I wasn’t home yet.