Chinese Moms and Lullabies

“If you do not brave the tiger’s lair, how can you capture the cub?” – Chinese proverb

tiger cub Even though it’s past Mother’s Day, I hope I still continue to honor and appreciate my mom. My mom is definitely not a tiger mom, although she did expect the best from her children. While growing up, I had a hard time reconciling my mom with the Western archetype I saw on TV (i.e. June Cleaver). As I’ve grown older, I now know better and admire her unique and Chinese shows of affection. Besides the continual blessing of good food, one of my favorite childhood recollections is of sitting in the rocking chair while she sang a simple song. (I’ve even continued the tradition myself.) The lyrics go something like this:

“Rock, rock, rock ’til grandma calls.

Grandma says I’m ____.”

(The blank is filled in whatever word you want to stick in. When I was behaving well, it was guai or obedient.)

Another song influenced my childhood; I remember singing it on the sandbox edge while the other more social kids played on the jungle gym or gathered into their cliques. I don’t remember the title, but it had a verse that roughly translated to “I want to fly like the seagull.” Whenever I sang that or other Cantonese songs, I took a piece of my home (and my mother’s love) with me wherever I went.

Thank you for everything, Mom!


Foodie Friday: Bee Hoon/Mee Hoon/Mai Fun
Foodie Friday: Mango Cake


  1. Aw, that’s so sweet. :) No one sang in my family, or had much music around when I was a child but my children sing all the time. Nicer with your own music, isn’t it?

  2. I love that you recall these childhood songs. My mommy & me music teacher always urges us to sing to our children because they’ll remember the times we were sung to. I really hope Andrew remembers when he’s older.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      My kids remember songs (or at least the melody) from when they were younger. Also, whenever I play the lullaby CD, they start getting really sleepy!

  3. Very sweet post, Jennifer. Nice to know that all Chinese moms are not Tiger moms, which I already suspected, anyway. Kids from all over the world love nothing better than songs and especially repetitive lullabies that help to soothe them but also to discover the sounds of language. And the love between people.

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