Whenever we travel to a foreign land, there are always adventures. Ghana gave us MANY of those. Oh my gosh, so many. China is no different. The boys have gotten a crash course in cultural differences. They love it.
First of all, being African-American in rural China brings out some stellar moments. Cam was used to it when he came because the staring, comments and picture taking had all happened to him last year. Like the time he was followed by a man for a good 2-3 minutes, looking at him, and then blurting “BARACK OBAMA!” Cam looked at me, laughed nervously, and then finally said, “Is that the only thing he knows how to say in English, or does he think I’m actually Barack Obama?” We weren’t ever quite sure. When all the man got was a thumbs up, he eventually wandered off.
Brady knew this was coming, but it was surreal to him when it happened. He has had his head rubbed more times then Buddha’s belly. He has taken it in stride. When people yell “Michael Jordan!” at the boys (because we’re pretty sure this is the only black man they know?), they yell back, “YAO MING!!!” This makes every Chinese person this exchange takes place with dissolve into laughter. They are so glad to be traveling together this time. They chat about these moments for hours after they happen, giggling together about it all.
Brady has had moments all his very own too. He had apparently never seen an ash tray before? The kind that fits into the top of a public trash can so you can stub out your cigarette must be a thing of the past, kind of like when I told Brady about this thing I once had called a VCR. He simply couldn’t imagine it. As we were waiting for the elevator in our first hotel, I watched in abject horror as Brady licked his finger and stuck it into the sand of the public ashtray. As he was bringing it back up to his mouth I shouted “OH MY GOD!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?” He said, “I thought it was salt.” Yes, there are public salt licks everywhere in China. Because, that’s not at all disgusting. And, it makes total sense? This kid is in the Talented and Gifted Program?!? Apparently, we just don’t smoke enough cigarettes in public in the U.S. anymore. Yeah, that was it, or so he says.
There have been some other busted gut moments on this trip too. Yesterday as I was coming out of the bathroom (alone I might add. If you’ve adopted a preschooler, you know I was totally winning in that moment) at the airport in Nanjing when a lady stopped me at the exit. She held out a pen and a blank piece of paper. I told her I didn’t speak any Chinese, like none at all, sorry. She thrust the two items at me again and let out another stream of Chinese. Still don’t speak Chinese, sorry, even when you rapid fire it at me. A young, college aged girl, stood against a nearby pillar texting. She didn’t even look up from her phone. “She want you to sign that.” “For what?” I thought I had broken some sort of custom in the bathroom. Was I supposed to pay? Was this a bill? I was clueless. The young girl said, “She thinks you are someone.” “Uh, I am someone.” The girl finally looked up at me, “No, she thinks you are someone.” Oh, like someone for real? “Just sign it,” the young girl said and rolled her eyes. So, I did, with the first blonde signature that came to mind. Some random lady is running around Nanjing with Carrie Underwood’s signature…in my handwriting. Made her day with that one.
Today as we were walking through the Wal-Mart in Guangzhou, the boys and I spotted someone ducking down behind a huge bin of stuffed bears. We all commented on how nice it was that this slightly odd looking man was playing with the nearby kid that we thought belonged to him. Nope. About ten seconds later we looped around with our cart and rolled by the big bin, and he popped up and yelled “I KNOW YOU!”, in English, REALLY LOUDLY. We all jumped and then nearly died laughing. This apparently encouraged his bizarre behavior, because he would giggle with glee, run in front of us to the next department and do it again. So, we decided to play along with whatever game this was and try to outrun him. He would run into a department to hide, we would turn sharply, and try to avoid him at all costs, just because he thought it was funny, and frankly, so did we. Gigi loved all our laughing and running as she rode in the cart. The boys thought it was the weirdest game ever, and this guy probably won whatever Chinese hidden camera show he was filming. As we left Wal-Mart to find our guide and the other family from our agency that we had ditched to play hide and seek with this weirdo, Brady said to me, “Maybe he really does know us? Maybe he reads your blog?”
So, if you do, to the Chinese Wal-Mart weirdo, you made our day too! We will likely spend the rest of our time in China hiding from each other and then popping out in random places shouting “I KNOW YOU!” It will be like an inside joke, except not, because I just told the entire internet.
–FullPlateMom, who…KNOWS YOU!!!