Monday, April 23, 2007

"Like a Chinese Girl"

Zoe usually walks ahead of Maya and me just about anywhere we go -- she's speedy and Maya is as slow as molasses! Today on the way to school Zoe was probably a good blockand a half ahead of us. I could see her, and there weren't any streets to cross, so I didn't call her back.

Once she reached a street that needed crossing, she waited for us. When we reached her she said, "People were looking at me like I was a Chinese girl walking to school without my parents!" (Yes, kids her age walk to school alone.)

Wow, there's a lot to unpack in that sentence, isn't there? Zoe so wants to fit in, and it's kind of hard to do that when you've got a Caucasian mother hanging about. She asked me the other day why everyone was staring at us, and I said there were lots of reasons: 1) two Chinese girls with a Caucasian mom are a curiosity; 2) people are amazed by the fact that I have TWO children; 3) even though they are Chinese, the girls still look "American;" 4) I'm fat, and there aren't a lot of fat people in China.

Wouldn't you know it? Zoe latched onto the last reason, and now tells Maya when people are staring that it's because Mama is FAT! Gee, thanks, kid. But it does show how much she doesn't want the staring to be about her. It's much better if it's about Mama (actually, that's why I suggested that it was me they were staring at).

So I expect Zoe will keep running ahead of us, allowing her the opportunity to feel "like a Chinese girl."


mimifrancoise said...

We all want to belong! This one of the needs of uman beings (with few exceptions). It does get old for people to stare at you all the time, and for a little girl who wants to belong so badly it is really tough. You are so wise to let her do what she needs and still keep her safely in sight.

mimifrancoise said...

Hey, Anonymous, I know I left out the word "is" and I also know how to spell "Human". I am a bad typist.

Anonymous said...

When we were in Nanning last time, I could tell that Maggie's clothes (t-shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes) were one of the things that made her look different from the other kids. She definitely got looks, when we were at the park, even if she was ahead of me. I wonder what else about them makes them seem American? Sue