Death of a spoilt brat

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Issue 1091, Page 2
Word count: 637
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

About a week ago, while reading a Hong Kong Chinese newspaper, I found a seemingly impossible story that even now I still think is really beyond anyone’s imagination.

It all happened in China’s Henan Province. A 23-year-old man, called Yang Suo, had himself starved to death at home, because, as his friends and relatives generally believed, he was too lazy to move his body and get food.

It was reported that the young man had been a real “spoiled brat” since childhood. His neighbours from the Yang family’s village said that when Yang Suo was eight years old, his parents would not make him walk and would carry him when going out. The primary school teachers also said that Yang was a smart kid, but that he didn’t pay attention in class or do any of the homework. If the teachers scolded him, his parents would complain the next day.

When Yang was 13 years old, his father passed away but his mother still spoiled him a lot and didn’t make him work on the farm. After his mother passed away when he was 18, his cousin brought him to work on a construction site but Yang complained that it was too hot to work there.

Some villagers were worried about him and so they delivered some food to his door, but he didn’t even bother to go to open the door and would just leave the food outside until it rotted. And that was how he died, according to the newspaper.

A producer who is adapting Yang’s story into a screenplay said: “There are more and more parents who will raise their children like raising giant pandas. Although Yang Suo’s story is an extreme, it’s very representative. We hope to use this true story to warn the people.”

I’m not a mother but I’m old enough to understand what the producer was talking about. Sometimes spoiling your kids doesn’t necessarily mean that parents will arrange all the things and do all the hard work for them, but it can also mean that parents choose not to teach the little ones what is right and what is wrong, what should be done and what should not be done in a society full of norms, values and culture.

In one of the well-known Chinese Confucian classic texts, “The Three Character Classic”, written probably in the 13th century during the Song Dynasty, there were two lines that are still widely quoted nowadays – “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault. To teach without being strict is the teacher’s laziness”.

Therefore, in the Chinese culture, we also believe that parents should be the ones to blame when young people misbehave or have no respect for elders. I used to see some parents push their kids to board a bus when there was a long queue, and urge them to race to an empty seat, if any, even though there were many passengers standing on the sideway.

On Sunday I saw a girl, probably around 10 years old, jump the queue in a fast food chain, holding a coin in her hands probably trying to get an ice cream. She ignored that the cashier was taking the order from the customer, went to the front of the line and told the cashier what she wanted without hesitating for a second. She repeated quite a few times but (fortunately) the cashier told her to wait and thus eventually she gave up and left.

It’s time for the young generation to step out of their parents’ greenhouses and learn about how things work in a civilised society. At the end of the day, to spoil the children too much will just make them incapable and vulnerable to even the smallest challenge in their lives, which may consequently pose a problem to society.

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