One memorable welcome bouquet and the kids in the paradise

Photos by the author; left was the welcome bouquet; middle and left were the only other two I spotted during our whirlwind tour of the big island.

I immediately noticed them upon our arrival at this breathtakingly beautiful villa on the east side of the big island of Hawaii, the 6-year-old girl smiling with uncertainty and the 9-year-old boy holding with a large bouquet of seemingly wild weeds.

They looked sheepish and timid, with body language like curious cats who ventured into unfamiliar territory.

They must be the kids of our absented host’s neighbor, who also happened to be the hired housekeeper for this villa. I texted her our arrival time upon landing at the Kona airport.

The two kids slowly walked toward the front door after my vigorous gestures of encouragement.

“This is for you, and welcome to the big island!” The boy handed the plant to me. He had beautiful blue eyes and a calm posture that you usually only find in adults. His younger sister kept smiling with eyes dancing with excitement so pure and so touching that you could tell she had longed to meet people and get to know more about strangers.

This must be a Hawaii thing their mom tried to introduce them to. I instantly liked her, even without meeting her yet.

The boy told me it was a native plant of Hawaii, perhaps unique on the Big Island only.

“You need to smell the roots. “ the boy encouraged, and I obeyed.

The roots had a unique and pleasant herbal aroma that I could hardly relate to anything registered in my above-average memory of scents.

The two kids watched me closely as my facial expression changed from surprised to ecstasy. They were delighted.

I promised them I would put it into a big vase as soon as I could find one. They left, citing their mom’s order not to disturb us from our unpacking.

The brave younger two tried new food; the very fit dog helped to chase away small wild animals; the oldest son helped his mom with our water problem.

Later I got the chance to meet their older brother and sister. They moved from the mainland to this paradise place with their mom just three years ago.

They were home-schooled ever since. And the youngest one told me that her mom just approved having her attend the local school starting in September.

“It is still just a maybe,” her young brother corrected her. He spoke in a way so much older than his young 9-year-old self.

“Yes, still a maybe but a very highly likely chance. I am so looking forward to it!” The expressive 6-year-old was not fazed at all.

My heart instantly started aching.

The outside world is so mean and ugly. Can the mom keep her four beautiful young souls in paradise forever by home-schooling them? Will they grow up and be ready to enter the world on the mainland?

I tried my best not to pry for more info about their parents, but I quickly learnt the dad still stayed on the mainland.

As a person who has already stayed longer in North America than in her native China, I am still puzzled by a story like this. Time after time, I am still having trouble with some core values differences between the east and the west.

Why can’t the parents compromise their differences for these four beautiful kids? It only needs their cooperation for merely twenty years! Twenty years of commitment to compromises may look horrifying for the troubling couple under 40 years old, but when you look back in your 50s or 60s, especially after your adult kids were gone, you would realize that fleeting 20 years or less was so short compared to your long life still lying ahead of you.

I am in love with these kids. They were beautiful, exotic, and delicate, just like those flowers you only find on this land, and you know these flowers would have a tough time thriving in any other place.

I could instantly feel the pain of the three older ones; perhaps I was biased with my Asian parental sentiment.

Then, reflecting on how I was raised in one of the most traumatized times back in China, I realized that I should be more optimistic about these kids’ resilience in growing up, becoming good people that are able to adapt to the ever changing world, and living a decent life.

I wish them the best on their way to growing up.



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P Chang

P Chang

It all started with the 2020 SIP.