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Seeing that Xu Fan didn’t cry or cause trouble, Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen didn’t interfere. The two headed to the county town to do their errands. When they came back, it was also the time South Sun village Elementary let off from school. With their glance, they saw groups of chatting students, and among them were Xu Fan and Da Zhuang.
Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were the youngest children in South Sun village Elementary, so they were the shortest. At the same time, they were also the liveliest, pestering the older kids as they followed behind them. Their mouths were especially sweet as they called out big big brother and big sister while using their cute appearance. A big sister held Xu Fan’s small, meaty hand as they headed back to South Bay Village.
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Dingchen: “…”
The two followed the group of children back to South Bay Village. Seeing that Xu Fan followed the eldest child from the village, the two finally relaxed and went to look at the big greenhouses. When they returned home, they didn’t see Xu Fan. After asking, they found out that Xu Fan made new friends, so he went to his new friend’s house as a guest and ate with them. He threw being “punished to stand” to the back of his mind. When Xu Fan returned, Xu Zhao’s family was sitting by the dining table in the courtyard eating lunch.
Xu Fan carried his small backpack with his red scarf around his neck and called as he entered the courtyard, “Daddy!”
Xu Zhao glanced to the side and smiled, “You’re back.”
“Mn.” Xu Fan walked to Xu Zhao’s side. His watery eyes stared at the roasted chicken and potatoes, scrambled eggs with onions, fried pumpkin pancakes, sauteed vermicelli with bean sprouts, and fish head tofu soup on the table. He smacked his little mouth.
Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen had to go to the county town today to take care of some matters. On the way back, they bought chicken, fish and the like on the way home to add to their family meal.
Xu Fan’s little mouth smacked again, making a sound.
Xu Zhao, Mother and Father Xu slightly glanced at Xu Fan.
Cui Dingchen lowered his head and smiled.
Xu Fan walked toward the small dining table. His small, meaty hand pointed at the small table as he said, “Daddy, this is chicken?”
Xu Zhao replied, “Yes.”
“This is egg?”
“This is fish!”
Xu Zhao finally couldn’t help but face Xu Fan straight on.
Xu Fan sucked on his little mouth as he looked at Xu Zhao. His face thickened his skin, turned, and brought a small stool from inside and placed it beside Xu Zhao/ He happily said, “Daddy, I’ll help you eat it!”
Just as his small, meaty hand was about to grab a pumpkin pancake, Cui Dingchen stopped him.
“Big daddy, what are you doing?” Xu Fan asked.
Cui Dingchen said. “Didn’t you already eat?”
“I can see your belly bulging.”
Xu Fan looked down at his bulging stomach, then looked at Cui Dingchen. Knowing that he was harder to persuade, he turned to Mother and Father Xu. Mother and Father Xu lowered their heads as they ate, pretending that they didn’t see anything. He then turned to Xu Zhao and pitifully called, “Daddy.”
Xu Zhao laughed and said, “You already ate. You can’t eat again.”
“But I’m hungry.”
“I heard you ate a lot at Shanshan’s house.” Shangshang was the little miss who was holding Xu Fan’s hand earlier.
The words pierced through his heart. Xu Fan angrily said, “I’m mad!”
Xu Zhao nodded, “Okay, then be mad.”
Xu Fan immediately turned his head and walked toward the wall. He pitifully stood by the wall and would peek at Xu Zhao and the others from time to time. He tried to stomp his feet to get Xu Zhao’s attention but it was useless. When he turned his head again, the family was starting to clear up. He ran over to take a look and saw that there weren’t any vegetables. He instantly cried out and constantly grumbled about Cui Dingchen not giving him any food. He cried that he was hungry and cried that he was heartbroken.
Xu Zhao picked Xu Fan up to coax him. Not long later, he coaxed Xu Fan to sleep. When he headed back to school at three in the afternoon, he remembered that he didn’t eat meat during lunch. He was very angry and aggrieved and didn’t want to pay any attention to big daddy.
When he returned from school that evening, he didn’t go anywhere else and went straight back home to eat dumplings filled with pork and cabbage. He had a face full of happiness as he said, “It’s delicious.”
Cui Dingchen smiled and reminded, “Don’t eat too much.”
“I’m not eating a lot!” Xu Fan rolled his eyes at Cui Dingchen. His small, meaty hand protected the bowl in front of him. There were three white and fat dumplings inside of it.
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao with suspicion.
Xu Zhao whispered, “A grudge. He’s holding a grudge.”
Cui Dingchen didn’t understand and asked, “Why is he holding a grudge against me and not you?”
Xu Zhao said, “Our father-son relationship is solid like steel.”
“Do I not have a father-son relationship with him?”
“Your relationship with him is like plastic.”
Cui Dingchen carefully thought it over. The father-son relationship between him and Xu Fan indeed wasn’t strong enough. In their daily life, they would fight when they disagreed. This wasn’t okay. In order to strengthen their father-son relationship, Cui Dingchen took the initiative to bathe Xu Fan that night and carried Xu Fan upstairs to read a story to him. However, Xu Fan didn’t want to listen. He could only put Xu Fan to sleep.
Xu Fan climbed toward Xu Zhao instead.
Cui Dingchen was helpless.
Xu Zhao said, “Sanwa, sleep with your big daddy.”
Xu Fan directly refused, “No.”
“I don’t want to.”
But your big daddy wants to hug you to sleep. He really wants to hug you.”
Hearing this, Xu Fan looked at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen followed Xu Zhao’s words and acted like he really wanted to hold Xu Fan. In the end, Xu Fan said, “You have to control yourself!”
Xu Zhao let out a snort.
Cui Dingchen’s face immediately darkened. He picked up Xu Fan.
Xu Fan asked, “Big daddy, what are you doing?”
“It’s late. I’ll bring you downstairs to sleep.”
“I want to sleep with Daddy.”
“You have to control yourself!” Cui Dingchen returned this sentence to Xu Fan. Xu Fan’s was instantly blocked.
After arriving downstairs in the west wing room, Cui Dingchen didn’t leave. He accompanied Xu Fan to listen to the story on the radio. Looking at Xu Fan’s attentive appearance, he reached out and touched Xu Fan’s little face.
Xu Fan turned his head and asked, “What?”
Cui Dingchen asked, “Do you like Big daddy?”
Xu Fan thought about it before answering, “Yes.”
Cui Dingchen was pleasantly surprised and asked, “You really do like Big daddy?”
Xu Fan hummed in agreement.
Cui Dingchen asked, “Is it because Big daddy has a big car, milk, meat, and cookies?”
Xu Fan asked back, “How did you know?”
Cui Dingchen: “…”
I guessed they were just the plastic-son duo. Cui Dingchen hugged Xu Fan and continued to listen to the story until Xu Fan fell asleep. He covered Xu Fan with a small quilt, then went upstairs to sleep with Xu Fan1. He slept until midnight, went to check on Xu Fan, then returned to sleep. It was like this every day.
In a blink of an eye, the busy season for growing greenhouse vegetables came. The entire South Bay Village was busy with farming, but everyone was very willing since once the busy period was over, they could live a good year with their salaries.
Of course, Xu Zhao’s family had an even better life. The family added a lot more furniture, electric appliances, and the like. The new year had just passed and Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen had just held their wedding in South Bay Village. There weren’t any flowers or anything lavish. It was a rustic wedding. They invited the villagers who could cook and made dozens of tables worth of dishes and invited the entire village to each together to have a lively time full of laughter.
Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen brought Xu Fan to each table to receive everyone’s blessings. It wasn’t until late in the evening that the banquet finished. Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen were finally married.
Although they had already obtained a marriage certificate, this ceremony gave them a serious and sacred feeling. The two lay in bed and looked at each other. Their gazes were filled with sincerity and sweetness. They hugged until morning. While they were still asleep, they heard a bang from outside the door.
“Daddy! Big daddy!”
Cui Dingchen opened his eyes, got up, and opened the door. He saw Xu Fan wearing a small white floral robe, holding a milk bottle as he continued to bang on the door.
“What is it?” Cui Dingchen asked.
Xu Fan asked, “Where’s my suite?”
“What?” Cui Dingchen didn’t understand.
“My suite!” Xu Fan said again, “Where’s my suite?”
What was a suite?
Cui Dingchen had a flash of an idea and asked, “Do you mean suit?”
Xu Fan nodded.
Yesterday when Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen held their ceremony, not only did they wear suits but even Xu Fan wore a small suit. They were praised and complemented by everyone.
That was why Xu Fan still remembered the suit even now.
“Why do you want your suit?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“To wear.” Xu Fan held the door and raised his little face as he said.
“What are you going to wear your suit for?” It wasn’t the new year or any other holiday.
“To wear to school.”
He’d almost forgotten. Xu Fan had school today, so Cui Dingchen got up and helped Xu Fan wear his little suit. That wasn’t enough. Xu Fan still wanted to wear his tie. After putting on his tie, he tied his red scarf on as well. He couldn’t not wear his red scarf. He wouldn’t be a good student if he didn’t wear it.
Later when the family ate together, they saw Xu Fan wearing a small suit with a red scarf. He was very happy, thinking that he was the most handsome person in the world.
After the meal, he carried his small black backpack and chatted with Da Zhuang all the way to the school. They obviously didn’t match each other, but Xu Zhao thought that Xu Fan looked very handsome and very cute. He then heard Cui Dingchen say beside him, “My son is so handsome.”
It turned out that even Cui Dingchen would look at his son through filtered lenses. Xu Zhao couldn’t help but laugh.
Cui Dingchen asked, “What are you laughing at?”
Xu Zhao said, “I’m laughing at your son’s strange’s clothes.”
“How is it strange?” It looks good!”
“Fine, fine. It looks good.”
Xu Zhao didn’t argue with Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen saw Xu Fan walking away with the bigger children. When they were about to enter the school, he finally pulled Xu Zhao toward home. It was only then that he realized Xu Zhao was only wearing a sweater. It was a cold day. He tightly grasped Xu Zhao’s hand. Thankfully, it wasn’t ice cold, but he still said unhappily, “How could you wear such thin clothes out?”
“Aren’t you as well?” Xu Zhao said with a laugh.
“Can you compare to me? I’m healthier than you.”
“Let’s quickly go home.”
Cui Dingchen held Xu Zhao’s hand and strode home. Just as they entered the courtyard, the two attracted Mother Xu’s attention. Mother Xu looked at Xu Zhao then looked at Cui Dingchen and asked, “Xu Zhao, did you gain weight recently?”
Xu Zhao touched his face. “No way.”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao’s face and said firmly, “He didn’t.”
Mother Xu pointed at Xu Zhao’s stomach and said with a smile, “You’re still saying you didn’t. Look, your stomach is bulging out.”
After speaking, Mother Xu’s smile instantly froze.
- The raws say XF, but I feel like it should be XZ here. ↩︎