In the same month that we arrive on the missions field, I wrote an article called “Twinkle Linkle Little Star” about all the attention my daughter gets when we go out in public. This post is partly a follow-up to that post.
As time went on, all the attention continued. But we started seeing a problem. Our daughter would cover her eyes, scream at people, and her attitude just wasn’t that great. The dad side of me wanted her to be happy and be comfortable when we went out in public and at the same time, which broke my heart, I couldn’t allow her to act like she was to others. The missionary side of me wanted her to love the Chinese people and be ok around them. After all, this is our new life.
I know things like this also upset my wife. She hated to see our daughter so upset and then get in trouble for reacting to something she hated…all the attention, touching, in-your-face people, strange language, and picture-taking. I would image this is a problem for most MK’s living in place where they are the major minority, but in China, it seems to be an extreme case. Our blue-eyed, blonde hair, white skinned child sticks out of the crowd pretty easy. Of course we have the constant staring, pointing, head-turning, and nice comments from others …all things that we can deal with. But there are two extremes that we had to take into further consideration.
Picture taking is huge! It’s common for strangers on the street to come ask (sometimes) permission if they can take her picture. Other times we will be sitting in a restaurant then someone will come over and ask if they can take a picture with our daughter or the waitress will whip out her camera phone and start taking pictures. Sometimes when we are out shopping and our daughter is sitting in her stroller, I will turn around and see a group of people kneeling around the stroller while someone is taking their picture.
An another example of this was at the Christmas party. The church put on a huge Christmas party that was a success. During the party, my wife and I were asked over, and over, and over from different people if they could take pictures with our daughter. It was to the point that if we allowed it, that it is all we would have done that night!
Now our daughter loves to take pictures, even one of her little Chinese friend’s taught her how to make the typical Asian peace sign when taking pictures. Other times she will come over to me and want to take funny pictures on the computer. But she hates strangers taking her picture. So we decided to not let strangers take her picture. You can’t stop everyone, but we politely tell people “no” when they ask or try to take her picture. We don’t think we have to force her to take pictures with everyone that wants to because we are missionaries.
With that being said, she loves to take pictures with those at church. The Chinese people that she knows and adores, she has fun taking pictures with.