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What is it like to be raised by parents who love each other unconditionally?
My parents fell in love while they were in college, when they were about my age. They had never dated anyone before they met each other. A few years into their relationship, they moved to America together.
When I was a kid, my parents generally spoke to each other in Chinese. There’s a term of endearment in Mandarin, “bao”, similar to “darling” in English. Whenever my mom was in a good mood, she’d add a “bao” after saying my dad’s first name. To me and my sisters, with our very limited grasp of Chinese, that was just a normal word we’d hear around the house.
This year, when I went home for the holidays, I found a collection of old home videos that I took of my little sisters over a decade ago.
In one video, I discovered my little sister — around 2 years old — telling a story about our family.
“The big sister was called Hannah,” she says happily, to the camera. “The mama was called Mom. And the dad was called Dad-bao.”
I showed this video to my sister (who has no recollection of this incident), and then to my parents, and we all had a good laugh over it. It’s difficult to tell whether or not she was joking in the video, but it’s quite possible that she actually thought my dad’s real name was “Dad-bao.”
My sisters and I all grew up speaking English, so the only Chinese we knew consisted of words we’d hear often at home. We knew the Chinese words for colors, like “purple” — and household objects, like “pencil” — and common foods, like “peaches.” And somewhere along the way, words like “bao” got included, too.
That video of my sister is the first memory that springs to mind when I try to explain what it’s like to have parents who love each other unconditionally. It’s as simple as knowing your parents’ names. It’s just something in the background, something you grow up taking for granted.
Our family wasn’t perfect, by any means. Just like any other married couple, my parents went through their fair share of quarrels and misunderstandings and disagreements.
But their love for each other was always a constant and normal part of life, something that would always be there at the end of every fight.
And to their kids, love became a concept as simple and commonplace as purple or pencils or peaches.
Hannah Yang is a student at Yale. Read more from Quora below:
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