Well, for the first time, its the five children, not the wheelchair that is putting us in the spotlight
In China, a ‘family room’ has a double and a single bed.
In China, a ‘family meal’ at McDonalds has three burgers and three chips.
In China, I’ve lost count of the time we’ve seen a baby out and about with both Grandmas, each doting on their one mutual grandchild. So I fully understand that we are an anomaly. A big loud blonde-haired fair-skinned English speaking anomoly. That MUST be photographed.
Initially, we didn’t mind the attention
Very occasionally someone who spoke a little English would ask to take our photo, but the vast majority just went ahead. It’s been really intense. People just stare at us all the time. They see no problem with gathering around Sparky in her wheelchair, clearly discussing her. They photograph me breast feeding!! When we turn the other way, or say no, they take our picture anyway.
The paparazzi eventually got to us. The other day day I became really cross. It spoiled things, and made me want to go back to our room and hide. The children too were sick of it, ‘ I’m sick of Asians taking my photo’ one of them journaled.
Hmmm, that sounds bad doesn’t it?
Climbing the beautiful yellow mountain in Huangshan was so tiring, partly because the steps were so steps, but partly because we just couldn’t stop and rest. Even pausing for a minute would generate a crowd of over fifty people, all with cameras. They would sidle in and sit next to the children, they would even pick up the baby!
Three of my children, shock horror, dared to climb a tree in a park; to them its the most natrual thing in the world. The crowd probably hit 100.
Then a policeman blew his whistle and told them to get down. Meena took fright and jumped, landing on Snowy.
When your big tough tree climbing five year old melts into tears and needs his mummy, the last thing you want is 100 onlookers. But what to do?
But today we cracked. I felt it was all getting way too negative, and casting a shadow over our last week in China. I decided instead of getting mad, we would make a massive joke out of it. As in , ‘we can’t change the world but we can change our response to it’ or ‘mummy is all out of ideas, here’
I told the children to have their camera on hand, and I nicked Chris’ big camera. Anyone who takes our picture gets their’s taken back!!! Game on!!! Us versus China!!
It was so funny. Look at these surprised people.
I had a real face-off with this guy. He had his bl**dy great lens in Snowy’s face. So I stuck mine in his face. We clicked off at each other a few times. The whole crowd laughed. Eventually he cracked and laughed too.
I won though, because he walked off without a photo of my boy!!
I got an insight into the Chinese way of thinking and responding. As I walked around the lake, I saw this lady with what might have been her triplet daughters. ( I say presume, because people assume we have triplets, and we don’t, no one knows anyone else’s full story)
Anyway, there were three girls the same size dressed identically. They were trying to cross a road, and in the five minutes it took them, I stood and watched as stranger after stranger approached the children, interrogated the mother, patted them on the head, asked questions, took photos and gave them lots of thumbs up and big smiles. All the stuff that has been happening to us!!
How did the mother respond? She totally ignored them all! She looked though people as if they were glass. That’s her on the right, staring off into space. Wow. So that’s how it’s done.
To me that is just so so rude.
But to me they are so so rude.
But to them, we are so so different.
What’s normal? What’s ok? In a place where spitting is totally ok, ( and I got spat on yesterday…yuck) but blowing your nose into a tissue is really rude, I can safely dismiss what ‘ feels right’ or any notion of ‘common sense’. Any kind of intuitive response is meaningless. I mean, if people stare at me at home, I assume my pants are undone, or my skirt is up my knickers, or I’m talking too loud or I’ve done something else wrong.
So in China, we are either all doing everything wrong all the time, or we can safely assume the staring means something else. (As there’s no such thing as taking too loud in China!!)
I dunno, maybe there are just so many people in China you can be rude and not worry, you’re never going to see them again, or end up on a committee together or something awkward like that.
I think I’m just going to stick with taking photos of who ever takes our photo…. Because it makes everyone laugh, and laughter is a great leveler and connector. Perhaps we can transend the chasm between notions of rudeness, with laughter.
Although somewhere on the internet there are several thousand pics of us, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Is it rude of us to manage the situation like this? I have no idea whats rude; thats the whole point.
And if anyone needs pictures of Chinese people behind their camera, I have hundreds.
What would you do?