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April 14, 2010

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Nothing is too good for our Little Princess

IT'S almost midnight on Friday, and Su Qing is still rushing to finish up work in her office on Huaihai Road M. in Shanghai.

She's not getting ready for a nice relaxed weekend - instead she has to clear the decks so she can oversee her five-year-old daughter's hectic weekend of piano, swimming, gymnastics, table tennis and English lessons.

Su and her husband, Zhang Xiaotian, are "hai nu," slaves to their child.

Su, a 32-year-old customer relations manager, was once one of those care-free white collars who spent all their salaries before the end of the month (yue guang zu). So was her husband, now a 34-year-old project manager for an advertising company.

Today Su earns around 6,000 yuan (US$880) and Zhang 8,000 yuan, not bad for their age in Shanghai and enough for a few luxurious outings they used to enjoy every month.

Things have changed since Su got pregnant. Now every penny is hoarded. They scrimp and save for their daughter, spending on her every perceived need and saving for her university education.

Su used to cab it everywhere and say that she would rather quit her job if she had to commute by Metro. Now she takes public transport all the time and only takes a taxi when she is with her daughter.

The couple has stopped dining out for lunch as it's too expensive around Huahai Road M. and Xujiahui area where Zhang works.

They bring lunch boxes that Su prepares with leftovers from dinner of the night before.

As soon as their daughter got into the bilingual kindergarten in Hongqiao, the couple made a deal with each other: They would arrange their work schedules to make sure at least one of them would be free every weekend so they could accompany their little princess to her many extracurricular events.

The couple bought a small apartment in suburban Songjiang District, but they rarely stay there as they have rented one in Hongqiao, near the bilingual kindergarten. The school costs 5,000 yuan every month and the apartment another 3,500 yuan.

"But we're just doing what our parents did for us, so I don't see anything special about what we are doing here," says Su. "Why are you interviewing us? Everyone around me is doing the same thing."


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