March 11th, 2008

I still haven’t taken lzh to New Zealand- I know, I know, I’m long overdue for a trip home, and she needs to see my homeland and meet my family- and so the only other Waughs she has met are Shushu and my parents. They’re the only other Waughs to have visited Beijing.

Well, Mum’s youngest brother used to do business here, but we never saw him when he was in Beijing, most we ever got was a phone call. But that’s beside the point.

So, because we were chatting with Mum and Dad this afternoon, we were talking about the family, and we noticed: My oldest brother and I are almost complete opposites, two extremes. lzh said “一个是文,一个是武.” (One is wén (culture, literature, the intellectual pursuits), one is wǔ (physical development, the martial arts, etc)- we’re the two opposite aspects of cultivation, which the ideal man should possess- Bruce Lee is the closest example I can think of, but you’ll need to watch his films really closely to see the wén). My brother is only 18 months younger than me, but while I spent as much of my childhood in my room reading as possible (i.e. apart from those occassions when my parents dragged my outside and made me get some exercise), he spent as much time as possible playing sport. I’m a teacher, he’s a cop- and not just a cop, but Armed Offenders Squad (kinda SWAT equivalent). I live in Beijing, he’s never strayed far from home. He’s loud and assertive, I’m quiet and shy. You get the picture. I’ll leave you to guess which of us gets the wén and which gets the wǔ.
Then lzh said my sister (five years younger than me) is 艺 (yì- art- she’s an extremely talented musician).

But what about my youngest brother (two years younger than my sister)? 工 (gōng- work, industry- he completed a carpentry apprenticeship then decided he wanted to be a paramedic. He’s in his last year of paramedic training now, and by all accounts he’s been working very hard all the way through both the carpentry apprenticeship and paramedic training) was the best we could come up with. Well, most of the time he was growing up, I was somewhere far away, either at university or here in China, so I’m not sure I actually know him all that well.

No, there was no point to this post, just thought I’d let you in on this rather random conversation. I thought it was fun.

2 Responses to “families”

  1. Matt Schiavenza Says:

    Well done. Families are odd things. In my case, my sister who is 15 years older than me and I are quite alike, even though she has a different father and neither of us are like our mom at all. Owing to our different childhood experiences and birth order (the oldest vs. the youngest), we’re not entirely alike: I’m much more laid back than she is. But we both have the same basic interests: politics, travel, books, culture, music. We also share the same sort of analytically inclined mind and taste for intellectual stimulation. Our middle sister, 11 years my senior, is completely different. But we all get along like a house on fire.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Actually, my older brother and I are the exact opposite of what conventional birth order “wisdom” suggests. He’s the conservative, law and order type. In fact, there’s a lot about my family that doesn’t fit the conventional wisdom, and I won’t say we get along like a house on fire (although we do generally get along), but despite all our myriad differences, we’re all pretty much the same. Families are very strange things indeed.