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Sacrifice in peace

“What mother wouldn’t sacrifice herself for her child?” Safin asked Bond in the movie No Time to Die. Although Bond didn’t answer right away, he replied to the question with his action. At the end of the movie, Bond sacrificed in peace.

As a parent, I am still learning to sacrifice in peace. When my baby girl was little, I dreaded about getting up every two hours. I got irritated by the baby screams at night. After rocking my baby to sleep one night, I held her a while longer to sleep deeper. While half awake, I heard her breathing in the middle of the night. And I could feel her heartbeat in my arms. It suddenly dawned on me how lucky I was. A precious life depended on me dearly. Although I wasn’t the air she breathed, I was pretty darn close to it. Afterwards, I was able to carry out those mid night routines in peace.

Photo by John Finkelstein on

What’s still tough for me is to sacrifice in peace while waiting for natural consequences. Not all natural consequences. When my kid wrecked the Volvo, I paid for the repairs in peace because nobody was injured. She now drives more carefully. She also chipped in for the insurance increase. When the mold grew in the bowls that my kid left unattended for weeks, I cleaned the bowls in peace after she apologized. She screamed and stormed out of her room when seeing the moldy bowls. Such natural consequences are righteous. I’m in peace because those are reconcilable.

Would I be in peace if my kids failed to get educations as natural consequences? Such natural consequence did happen. Despite of support and encouragement from parents, my kid failed a subject last Spring. The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard on students especially. “Between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of students who met state standards on the math portion of the exam fell by 20 percentage points…In English, the portion of kids who met the standard fell by 9 percentage points.” The drop was steep across the board.

Data from the latest state assessment

My kid had to join the summer credit recovery program. However, she received the credit within two weeks of the summer program. I was petrified. What kind of natural consequence grants a semester’s credit with just two weeks’ work? The Chinese book 三字经 says “教不严, 师之惰”, which means if teaching isn’t strict, the teacher is lazy. On the other hand, the pandemic is hard on teachers. “Teachers have been working longer hours. They’re more stressed out. And many say they’ve considered quitting.” One of my coworkers used to be a teacher. I couldn’t image myself teaching teenagers virtually month after month. I truly appreciate their hard work. But still two weeks? That’s a slap on her wrist. Not righteous.

Would I be in peace when righteous natural consequences ultimately happen to my kids? Not if it’s too late. The book 三字经 also says “养不教, 父之过”, which means if raising kids without teaching, the parents are irresponsible. An 800-years-old Chinese story accompanied that saying. A spoiled child grew up untaught and became a bandit. He broke many laws and was sentenced to death. When hugging his mother for the last time, he scolded her: “Why didn’t you teach me earlier? Now it’s too late.” Another translation of “养不教, 父之过” is a child is better unborn than untaught.

Photo by Cup of Couple on

Thousands of parents in Washington state are sacrificing without peace. School enrollment dropped significantly during the pandemic. “The year after COVID hit, the number of missing kids shot up to roughly 27,800, the following year more than 29,000.” I’m not a tiger dad. I don’t helicopter over my kids. But I find peace in strict regimen of the Washington Youth Academy instead of the summer credit recovery program. “It enrolls 16- to 18-year-olds from across the state who have dropped out of high school or are close to dropping out. The residential program uses military-style training, rigorous schooling and mentor relationships to help students earn credits”. In China, I had one year military-style training, like a gap year before the college. It was tough to get up at 5am every morning. It was tough to walk for miles with blisters on my feet. It was tough to eat potatoes as the main vegetable for months. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Some natural consequences are unreconcilable. Parents and teachers have to be strict sometimes. James Bond, welcome to the parent club! Great to have a killer in the camp!

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