Don’t forget us: Parents cut hair in call for children to come back home.

Don’t forget us: Parents cut hair in call for children to come back home
While many people around the world enjoy the cheer and warm family atmosphere of the festive season, many parents in China whose children either work or study hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers away in far-off cities, struggle with loneliness and bitter sadness at being apart from their wandering sons and daughters.
In a bid to make the voices of these “left-behind parents” heard, an art group in Beijing has recently forged a special campaign to collect wisps of grey or white hair as well as messages from these parents all over the country to reveal their profound affection for their children, as they call on them to at least return home to mom and dad for a few days for the Spring Festival holiday.
The art exhibition displaying the collected hair made its national debut on Saturday in a shopping mall in Beijing’s Haidian district. Altogether 2,061 transparent bottles each contain a tuft of white hair from an aging mother or father. They were gathered from 34 provinces and regions, and when put together form a distinctive 2.5-meter-high Chinese character “家” (meaning “home” or “family” in English).
The bottles are also imprinted with the parents’ ages and names, as well as personal messages that they would like to express to their children. Some words are extremely touching, even moving some visitors to tears.
“It is really hard to carve out a career in a big city like Beijing, come home at any time when you feel too stressed out,” wrote 54-year-old Xie Chengjian. “The first thing your mother does after turning on her phone every morning is to look at the weather forecast in your city,” noted 73 year-old Ma Yijia.
Thanks to plentiful job opportunities and better incomes, more and more Chinese youngsters are leaving their hometowns for metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, leaving their parents behind. Many parents feel conflicted at seeing off their children – after years of hard work and sacrifice for their children, this chance of seeing their offspring leave to achieve their own dreams is all they ever hoped for. Yet it is a bittersweet feeling – many parents have only one child, so watching their sons and daughters flee the nest is a proud moment tinged with profound sadness.
According to the Chinese Family Development Report released by China’s top health authority in May, 2015, half of the country’s senior citizens in urban and rural areas do not live with their children, and 10 percent of them live by themselves.
Living in a fast-paced modern and urban society, many wandering sons and daughters either don’t have time or even feel reluctant to go back home for Spring Festival, traditionally a time of family reunion. The art group said they hoped their project could help urge those far-away children to consider their aging parents while they are still alive and healthy, instead of later living a life of regret when one day there will no longer be someone waiting for them at home.


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