Every time I go to the market without L, I get asked where she is…even though my answer is ALWAYS the same (“Her Dad is watching her”), it often seems as though the ladies there think that *this time* I might JUST have decided to leave her home alone by herself.
When I go to the market with L, she’s the subject of a lot of fussing and clucking and cheek rubbing. Lately she’s FINALLY started to be willing to talk with the ladies…I do think they were starting to have trouble believing me that she talks ALL DAY long at home.
Last week, a particularly vicious mosquito bit L 5 times on the right side of her face. I went to the market, and of course, everybody needed to know what happened. I told them, “A mosquito bit her.” The next thing I knew, I was being chastised…”What? Weren’t you even paying attention at all? How could you let that happen!!!” I told them that I think it happened while she was asleep, and the ladies all said “Oh, you let that mosquito in your house and it got her…you need to pay more attention. Babies have sweet skin.” I wonder…do they think I invited the mosquito in to feast on my little girl’s sweet flesh? :) (I know, they don’t really think that, but this kind of “关心” on L’s behalf did serve to make me feel a little bit guilty about the bites.)
Usually when L comes to the market with me, she’s in the baby carrier. It’s just so much more convenient than carrying the stroller down (and back up) four flights of stairs when I’m just making a quick trip to buy some veggies for dinner. Yesterday I got told, “You really need to let her walk. She’s never going to learn to walk if you keep using that thing!” I tried to explain otherwise, but it seems that my vegetable seller really might just believe that I keep L in the baby carrier all day long, every day.:)
In the end, it doesn’t really matter too much to me what people think, but I sometimes do wonder what impressions my neighbours and the people around me get from things that I never even stop to think twice about (like using the baby carrier). It would be interesting, I suppose, to be able to see myself from their point of view. It’s also a reminder to me that lots of the things I see every day (and which may have even served as a basis for my impressions or assumptions about China and Chinese people) could potentially be the quirks of an individual, or a family and not some widespread cultural difference (as I am prone to assuming). When one is really trying to learn about a place and a culture, it’s a good reminder to be humble…because, try as I might, I can never really see the whole picture.