One Chinese boy's heartbreaking answer to a maths question

Luo is the surname of a first-grade pupil in China’s Sichuan province. He lives with both his parents and a sister.

But for a question in his maths homework – “How many people are there in your family?” – the young boy answered: “Three”.

He defended his answer when his mother questioned him about it.

He said that “three” was correct, as “daddy is never home”.

The young boy’s heartbreaking answer is now viral on Chinese social media – the South China Morning Post reported that a People’s Daily story about Luo got almost 100,000 “likes” on its social media account last week.

The story takes a sadder turn when the young boy’s mother sent a photograph of the maths homework to her husband, Luo Jian, who was at work.

“So [his idea of family] doesn’t include me. I’m heartbroken,” Luo Jian wrote, accompanying an upload of the image, on social media.

Luo Jian – a police officer who often has to work weekends and during public holidays – said he felt like crying after seeing his wife’s message.

His message, which was posted on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter by People’s Daily, garnered 400 comments and was shared more than 14,000 times. Many sympathised with the policeman’s long work hours taking him away from his family.

Luo’s family isn’t the only one suffering from this. Many Chinese children have absent parents, whose work take them away for long hours or to cities several hundred kilometres away.

One Weibo user wrote: “My two-year-old son also left my firefighter husband out of our family … because of his absence.”

Last month, a photo of 8-year-old Wang Fuman in China’s southwest Yunnan province became a viral sensation after a picture of him showing up to school with thick frost in his hair and eyebrows began circulating online.

To get to school, Wang had walked 4.5km, a two-hour trek in sub-zero temperatures, from his home.

The young boy lives with his older sister and ailing grandmother in Ludian County. His mother had left the family two years ago, Fuman’s father Wang Gangkui told the New York Times

Gangkui said he works as a construction worker 250 miles away from his family, a move he had to make as his family was heavily in debt.

While adorable, Fuman’s frost-covered head sparked a debate about the millions of children left-behind in impoverished rural areas as their parents leave to work in big cities.

As the country chases prosperity, stories like Luo’s and Fuman’s reveal the devastating cost of it all: the breaking down of the Chinese family unit.

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