A 10-Year-Old Boy’s Essay Touches 1.7 Million Mothers

This gentleman used less than 200 words to bring tears to countless Chinese people.
June 28, 2024
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Recently, a 10-year-old boy’s essay went viral overnight on China’s TikTok, “Douyin.”

The essay was posted by the boy’s mother and has received 1.723 million likes as of the report by The China Academy.

The mother captured a video of her son reading comics and wrote:

“It’s wonderful that when my child writes about his parents,

he no longer talks about father facing the yellow earth and toiling in the fields,

or rough, cracked hands of mother handing over food while trembling and saying,

‘You eat, Mom has already eaten.’

Instead, he writes:

‘My mom has decision fatigue; she needs my help to decide which dress to match with her outfit.

She proudly shows off her new high-tech skincare products.

He says, ‘I don’t play with cigarette cards (cut-out parts of cigarette boxes used as toys by elementary students).

Dad, for your health, you should smoke less.’

They no longer secretly vow to study hard to make their parents’ lives easier.

Instead, they say they want to become like their mom, to study hard and enjoy life sooner.

How great is that?

I am not living for my parents; I am living to become my best selve.”

Recently, a 10-year-old boy’s essay went viral overnight on China’s TikTok, “Douyin.”

The mother has posted 19 videos on Douyin and has over 7,000 followers. Judging from her content, she appears to be in her 30s.

During this mother’s childhood, China was much poorer than it is today. Children at that time bore more of their parents’ hopes and family responsibilities. It took decades of development for China to enable this generation of children to grow up with ease and freedom.

Thirty years ago, in 1990, China’s urbanization rate was around 26.44%; in 2023, it reached 66.16%.

In 1990, China’s per capita GDP was $347, with even lower income for farmers. By 2023, China’s per capita GDP reached $12,700.

In 1990, about 2.83 million people took the college entrance exam, with 610,000 admitted, a 21.55% admission rate. In 2023, 12.91 million people took the exam, with 4.78 million admitted to regular universities, and those who didn’t get into college had other higher education opportunities.

The blogger’s mention of a farming father and self-sacrificing mother often appeared as symbols of parental love in compositions of that generation.

Changing family income and social status was a major motivation for Chinese students to study hard.

In the blogger’s comment section, 95,000 people left comments, with many discussing their interactions with their children.

In the blogger’s comment section, 95,000 people left comments

Comment by @Re. received 406,000 likes: “My son wrote, ‘Although my mom can’t cook, she is great at ordering takeout, and every meal fills me with anticipation.’”

Comment by @钱都到兜李女士 (34,000 likes): “When I was braiding my 6-year-old daughter’s hair, she cried out. I said, ‘Sorry, my hands aren’t very nimble and I’m not good at braiding hair; did it hurt?’ She replied, ‘No, Mom, your hands are very nimble when you play Mahjong; everyone has their strengths, it’s not your fault.’”

Comment by @隐形人 (39,000 likes): “I took my son to the water park, and before we went, I said we should eat well because things are expensive inside. Then I reconsidered and told him, ‘Son, if you’re hungry or thirsty, tell Mom, we can afford those few hundred bucks.’”

Comment by @社会主义接班人 (134,000 likes): “My son wrote in his essay: ‘My mom can’t cook, but she’s great at dressing up; she looks like a peacock every day.’”

Comment by @三只熊: “My son wrote: ‘We went to the amusement park together, but there were so many people in line. However, my mom is very smart; she bought a fast pass so we didn’t have to wait.’”

Comment by @迷梦蝴蝶 (3,099 likes): “I bought my son takoyaki, and he asked why I didn’t get one for myself. I imitated my mom and said, ‘Mom can’t bear to eat, as long as you’re happy.’ He replied, ‘Who are you kidding? You’ll definitely buy something even better later.’”

Comment by @周毓子 (75,000 likes): “My son wrote in his essay, ‘My mom diets every day, losing weight from 100 to 120 pounds.’”

Many commenters also noted that changes in parent-child relationships reflect changes in the times:

Comment by @爱因斯坦 (309,000 likes): “Perfect score essay, no longer about a feverish me and my mom in the rain, but about a mom with decision fatigue and a dad who smokes. Stories change over time—because of love, good stories can be told.”

Comment by @优娜衣橱: “Let’s end guilt-based education and gratitude-based education with our generation.”

Comment by @get rich (491 likes): “Finally, the birth of a child is not for any particular purpose; finally, their existence is just for themselves; finally, love can be without any conditions or constraints.”

Commenter @Ruuuuui called this less than 200-word essay “the greatest copywriting of the year, a convergence point between two generations.”

The China Academy reviewed the mother’s posts and found that the family has a boy and a girl, their home is simply and warmly decorated, and they drive back to their hometown to gather with relatives and friends during holidays.

The mother’s IP address shows she is in Hunan Province, known for its resilient and persistent people.

Last year, Hunan’s per capita GDP exceeded $10,000, ranking 14th in China. Hunan’s capital, Changsha, is the birthplace of China’s leader Mao Zedong, and the Orange Isle Mao Zedong Statue is one of the most popular landmarks among Chinese youth.

On the popular app “Xiaohongshu” (Little Red Book) favored by young people in China, travel guides for Changsha are sure to mention the “Mao Zedong Statue.”

Moved by China’s changes, many netizens expressed confidence in the younger generation.

Comment by @淘野子: “In the past, we praised suffering because the environment was harsh. Our ancestors built new environments from their hardships and emphasized enduring difficulties to forge strong wills and become ‘successful.’

We bridge the old and new, growing up in hardship education and being baptized by a new journey. Hardship is no longer on our lips; we tell our descendants repeatedly that the hardships we endured need not be repeated by you. Just grow freely and soar.

My point is, neither the former nor the latter is wrong. We are about to nurture a new generation full of love and confidence and push society towards a new journey.”

This 10-year-old boy, in another essay, recorded his experiences of his parents helping him with math and swimming.

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