Sunday, March 13, 2005

My Chinese Redemption

As I mentioned earlier, today we went to the Buddhist Temple. It is an unseasonably cold 50-ish windy degrees today, as it was yesterday, which is where the story of my Public Shaming begins.

Yesterday was very rainy and very cold, so obviously the bambina was not taken outside. Instead, she was put in the baby bjorn and walked around the indoor city that is this hotel to look at the waterfall, the fish pond, the rock formations, etc in the lobby. As I stood on a little bridge and showed her all the fish in the pond, a Chinese couple came up to me to (I thought) admire my daughter, as they do all the time: "Lucky girl! Beauty baby! Lucky beauty girl!" What a comedown I had in the ensuing 30 seconds. The woman walked over, pulled my daughter's trouser leg down to cover the one inch of skin between her pants and socks. She then called her husband over to look at the naked leg, rubbed it as if to make it warm, and then shook her head at me and said something in Chinese that no doubt meant, "I'm calling DSS on you!" Followed by "cold baby! cold baby!"

Yes, friends. I was publicly shamed as a parent. Taken to task in front of god and man for parental malfeasance and neglect. As ludicrous as I thought the woman was, I was so embarrassed because a few other people on the floor above looking down saw the whole thing and were also cluck-clucking at this crack ho of a mother who obviously can't even dress her daughter properly, much less raise her to be a productive and happy member of society.

So today I resolved that it would never happen again. My daughter would be admired, adored, and swooned over. She would never again be seen as the unfortunate orphan child who ended up with a lax, incapable parent. Today I was ready. Today I dressed her like we were in Antarctica. Long sleeved turtleneck onesie, too-big jeans, a hand-me-down Ralph Lauren cardigan, big socks--all covered up with a huge puffy hooded winter outfit with the covered feet and hands. I even added a hat under the hood just for good luck. And good thing I did! At the Buddhist temple, not only did I get the usual "lucky beauty girl!" and "your first?! oh! so lucky!" but I got an actual Thumbs Up sign from not one but two old ladies. I was drunk with joy, and even a little bit cocky, ie, "Hmmph--you'd think they'd dress their kid as warmly as I've dressed mine..." hee hee. It was awesome.

With the sting of my shaming still fresh last night, I asked our guide how people here feel about the adoption of the girls, and whether they don't like us for coming here. He said it is exactly the opposite. That the ladies swoon over the baby girls because they, as old ladies do, love baby girls especially and are just so glad that, as he put it, "this unlucky girl has found some good luck." I appreciate that they look at it that way, but whenever they say "lucky girl! lucky baby!" to me I always shake my head, point to myself and say "lucky mama. lucky mama" which makes them smile even long as my baby is wrapped up so warmly that she can't bend her arms. :)


misterfed said...

I always do the "lucky parents" response as well. :)

That is hilarious. I remember the foster moms of our kids watching me like a hawk when I held them for the first time, and when I made the slightest movement with them, scolding me as if I had started shaking them like a British au pair.

OliviasDad said...

Try Bjorning your kid through the freezer section of a busy supermarket in Chinatown with shorts and a T-shirt on her.

"Cold baby!"

"Too cold! Too cold!"

One older woman actually found it necessary to vigorously rub my daughter's legs to try and get some feeling back in them. I'm happy to say that no amputations were necessary in the end.