Mid-autumn day and kids being kids

For anyone who knows anything about mid-autumn festival in China, the very mention of the event conjures up images of boxes of sickeningly heavy mooncakes given as gifts and immediately gifted to someone else. They are the traditional fare of the season, but nobody really enjoys eating them, so they get re-gifted in the same way as fruitcakes do back home during Christmas.

But I’m not going to talk about mooncakes.

And I’m not going to talk about the full moon which my Chinese students insist is bigger on this night than the other full moons of the year.

What I AM going to share with you is another important tradition associated with mid-autumn day – lanterns – and what happens when parents aren’t looking…

Lanterns may be little toy ones that have a built-in LED lights such as the ones below:

Mid-autumn Festival

But it’s not really fun unless there’s fire involved! I knew it’d be a fun night when I came across some kids playing with a mini-lantern and some candles before the sun went down…

Mid-autumn Festival

So I waited until dark, and headed downstairs to the small rooftop park in my apartment complex to see what I could see. Sure enough, there were kids with paper lanterns, the candles inside illuminating them with a warm glow.

Mid-autumn Festival

Mid-autumn Festival

That was when I smelled mischief brewing. It was obvious – the inner pyromaniacs were about to break loose…

It started as an accident, when one of the lanterns caught fire. Then the kids realised making a bonfire out of the lanterns was much more fun.

Mid-autumn Festival

Mid-autumn Festival

Mid-autumn Festival

Excitement rose with the flames and died out just as quickly. I enjoyed watching the kids having fun, but part of me wondered how people back home would view it. I feel as though we’ve become overprotective in the west these days. I could see there was definite danger involved with kids playing with fire and no adult supervision (I certainly don’t count, as I’m as much of a kid as they are when it comes to flames), but it reminded me of my own childhood.

Yes, I was quite the pyromaniac myself! I remember all kinds of fire-related mischief, and I did get a burn or two in the process, but that’s all part of learning how to be safe. It means a lot more if you learn from your own mistakes! Of course I’m not saying you should let children play with chum in a great white shark-infested wading pool or set them loose with a box of C4 and some detonators, but sometimes kids should just be allowed to be kids, and given enough freedom to build their own experience.

But what do I know, I’m not a parent yet. Maybe I should just stick to what I do best. So I’ll just shut up and share my images. But I’ve gotta tell you that when I see a glint of light in a child’s eyes when they light a candle, I see through the facade of innocence and cuteness…

Mid-autumn Festival

…I see trouble about to be born…AND I LOVE IT!

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