Thursday, February 07, 2008

龍應台 的 “親愛的安德烈”

龍應台 is one of my favourite writers. But her new book struck an even stronger cord in me than the usual. When her son, Andreas, turned 18, she suddenly found that her little boy had turned into an adult that she did not understand at all. He seemed distant and reluctant to talk to her. She didn’t know what to say to him, what he was thinking, what his views were, what he cared about, why he did certain something or did not do something, his values, ... He spent all his time with his friends, but had nothing to say to his mother. He loved her, but that somehow didn’t mean that he had to know her, like her, talk to her.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? To all of us parents with growning-up children.

As a well-known writer, she did something that is difficult for the rest of us. She got him to agree to jointly write a newspaper column, as a way to get to know her son anew. The column was tremendously popular. Part of that became this book.

He explained why he liked his music but not hers, and his clothes but not hers. Why he and his friends liked to spend all their times in coffee shops. Why he preferred to explore China with his brother but not his mother. ...

She explained to him how much she wanted to pull the cigarette from his mouth but restrained herself because she has to respect that he is now an adult. ...

Above all, I think, they come to realize that they have a lot in common. Among them a sense of being human beings foremost, as opposed to being German, Chinese, Taiwanese, ... And a sense of justice and concern for the under-privileged. ...

It pained her when her son felt that he will be “mediocre” compared to his parents, both of whom are PhDs. Do you want to know her response? I suggest you read the book. There is a lot more in it.


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