It might happen to me 3 or 4 times before I hit the bus stop by my house. First at the bottom of the elevator, another time after I pass the playground, maybe again at the intersection. People are always stopping me in the middle of what I’m doing so they can take pictures of my 2 year old.
She’s a cutie for sure, the classic xiao wawa with blonde curls, blue eyes and a big smile. So it is conceivable to me that someone might want a picture of her on their cell phone. I mean, Nanjing isn’t the biggest city in China, and I’m sure that for some people, she really is the only foreign baby they have ever seen. But it’s gotten to be a problem.
At first, it was fine, even cute. Also, I wanted my daughter to interact with others and develop social skills. But now, it just makes me late for things. To be honest though, it wouldn’t be half as bad if my daughter wasn’t such a ham. She loves to smile, blush, bat her eye lids…the whole show. When she sees someone take out a cell phone, she always perks two little fingers up in a peace sign and smiles real big, because she thinks, of course, they want a picture of her. Then the little narcissist will try to get a hold of the phone so she can see herself smiling back.
Another thing local people do is give her things; anything, anything at all. Perfect strangers turn into doting grandparents willing to grant my daughter any wish. She’s been given free candy from the store, shiny key chains, stuffed toys, ice cream, and also other children’s ice cream. Sometimes my husband and I get jealous.
“Why don’t they ever give up a Papa John’s pizza?” I often ask.
“Yeah, or season 5 of The Ofice,” he says.
One woman went so far as to leave her dinner party at a restaurant to buy my daughter a large doll I never would have paid for. She rose from her table and twenty minutes later returned and gave the toy to my daughter, in return for a kiss on the cheek. I had never seen the woman before, and have never seen her since, but we still have the doll. It sits neatly on the bed with the other offerings.
My favorite gift thus far is this little duck that shines a light from its beak and makes a quacking sound when you press on its wings. A college student gave it to Minjia, (our daughter’s Chinese name) one night at an Indian restaurant, and we have played with it for hours.
Nice toy, but as I was saying, it’s starting to become a real problem because sometimes these “fans” start to interfere with our parenting. It’s usually small stuff like people helping her up if she falls, even though we want her to pick herself up. Or they give her unwrapped candy, which she immediately eats even if she hasn’t eaten anything for dinner. They’ve even given her beer on a spoon. This has happened on 2 separate occasions. Seriously.
Another thing that happens is other parents want to force their young children to be fast friends with our little girl. Which is fine, but really, she’s only 2. She’s capable of a handshake, giggling, and fighting over toys. Despite this, parents sometimes rush down stairs, chase us down the block, or follow us around a store so their kid can make Minjia’s acquaintance.
The only problem is Chinese kids don’t like our kid. When they meet Minjia, they usually look down in annoyance and shy away like they would from a cockroach or slimy vegetable. She puts out her hand for a handshake, and they put theirs behind their backs. Then they squirm for a bit before trying to make a break for it. For some reason, encounters with other children usually end in the poor kids running away, leaving our baby standing alone, waving bye bye. (Good thing her ego is invincible. She still thinks she’s best friends with all of them.)
All in all, there’s not that much we can complain about. I realize this when I listen to myself as I talk to my parents back home. I make sincere statements that others would only say sarcastically like, “People won’t stop giving us free stuff! It’s really irritating.” Or, “Everyone is always watching me and wanting to help me on and off the bus and stuff.” And my favorite, “Can you believe the nerve of these people, always wanting to be friends with our baby!” Yes, when the only thing I have to complain about in life is how everyone is overly nice to my child, it’s time to stop whining and realize it’s not only the baby who has it pretty good.
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Keywords: Foreign baby in China
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