I just finished the book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It was a wonderful book that brought my imagination back in time to the ancient world of China. The book focuses on woman and their lives in the "inner realm" which means, inside their home caring for the lives of their men and mother-in-laws, attending to their every need. If you have not read this book, i highly recommend it. It is a beautiful picture of the condition of women in China and how they thrived and carried on their culture in the midst of much suffering.
If you don't understand why we China adoptive moms predominantly have daughters, you really need only to read this book to realize that this pandemic of disrespect and abandonment began hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago through the culture of the orient. And in this book we begin to realize that though woman were often seen in their world as equal with dogs, they had a way of surviving and thriving into their own.
The preface of the book is focused on the concept of a Lao Tong. This is translated in our language to mean "old same". Two best friends who have all the similarities that China sees as necessary to be "sisters" from another family. These girls were paired as "old-sames" in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Meant to be together....for ten thousand years.
This is a sweet concept that to be honest i cannot relate. To me, the concept of a BFF in reality is a bit foreign. I do have many wonderful "besties" that i love and adore and I know we will be my friends forever and hopefully spend eternity with in heaven one day. But i never had a best friend growing up. And today my best friend, hands down is my husband. He is the one who knows me best, relates to me best, loves me most. I would rather spend a night with him than anyone because our conversations just flow like we are one. He loves me in a way i never thought i could know, being the child of a single mom with no father in my life. And I have never had a girlfriend to even compare to that level of friendship. But i do know that many women in the world do value their girl friendships as equal to, sometimes even above those of their spouses. They have a connection to one another that i cannot relate to. It is deep and honest and almost chemical in nature. I just happen to be one of the weird ones i guess.
And i do not want my daughters to necessarily be the way i am. I mean i do want them to have a marital relationship that goes as deep as mine. I want them to know that their is no friend like your husband and spend their young life looking for that man...NEVER settling. But i also want them to know what it is to have girlfriends and relate to them in the manner that this book describes. That deep, honest, almost chemical friendship.
So, to make a long story long, i have a great idea for those of us moms out their who have Chinese daughters. Let's connect them as Lao Tongs! First let me explain how this friendship is and how it can work. We would need to begin this great process at around the age of 6 or 7. We need to find our daughters one other girl of about the same age, also from China. These girls would begin their friendship the same way this friendship began in the book. We can acquire a fan and have the girls begin by writing simple messages to one another on it and send it back and forth. How wonderful it will be for them to then perhaps once per year if it is not too far to bring them together to meet and spend time together. Living here in New Jersey i think of how exciting an NYC China Town jaunt could be for them; eating dim sum and sipping Chinese tea.
Over the years hopefully their friendship will grow and blossom into something deep and beautiful together. To be at the place where one day as these girls are getting ready for their wedding day and their lao tong can be there by their side, truly knowing so much about them and seeing them off into their future as a wife, mom, and woman of faith...THIS would be magical to watch.
I think this would be a beautiful way to not only create for them a friendship like i mentioned above, but to also instill some of their beautiful culture in their lives and hearts.
Lao Tongs..."old sames" for Ten Thousand years...isn't it a beautiful concept?! I hope to make this happen for Aimee one day. Something just for her. Something she can keep close to her heart as she grows and becomes a beautiful and amazing Chinese woman.