Over the last couple of weeks I have experienced some very humbling situations that have somewhat altered my attitude. This is something I had been praying about so, of course, I was firstly surprised then pleased by these occurrences. It is not an easy thing for me to explain because I could potentially offend people by admitting my true feelings, so I will try to explain to the best of my ability…
Living in China presents many challenges. If you were to ask me, on a rough day, what I don’t like about China, you would get a long list of annoyances. I won’t go on to list them here because I’m feeling way too positive to do that right now. You could perhaps say that I have started to feel the change of heart that I have been praying for. To avoid rambling on about my aggravations with regard to living here, I will just say that sometimes I feel like I have to “push or be pushed”!! For instance, if you are trying to get on a bus or into an elevator, you need to push to get on or you will be pushed right out of the way. You could just walk away, but then you’d probably always be late for work, or be left taking the stairs!
When I was pregnant that started to change. People would get up for me on the bus. In fact, old-barely-able-to-walk people would fly out if their seats so that I could sit down!! I would feel bad because, even at 9 months pregnant, I was more comfortable standing than they were. I felt so guilty watching them trying to hang onto a handrail as the bus pulled away. Their aged hands clung on for dear life, but if I dared try tell them that I didn’t need the seat… Well, let me tell you, they wouldn’t hear it! They would keep shoo-ing me back into the seat. I heard to not give up their seat to a pregnant woman would cause them a great deal of shame. Sometimes I thought of letting frail little old ladies sit on my lap. Seriously, they looked like they would collapse at any moment and there I sat, healthy, strong and completely capable of standing (despite my oversized belly)!!
What surprised me more than this was how many young people were able to “not see me”. As luck would have it, when I really did need a seat on a longer journey, I would be on a bus with mainly young people. They would conveniently turn their heads or look at their electronic devices and never see the big belly standing right next to them. Since they were looking down at their phones I knew that they could see me right there next to them… How could they NOT see my ginormous belly? Anyway, my point is that during my pregnancy the older people, were unbelievably sweet but the younger generation… Well, not so much!!
Now that we have a baby, I have been overwhelmed by how kind all people have become towards us. Young and old. Yeah sure, we still encounter a brainless idiot who gets into the elevator smoking even though he sees a stroller in there. Seriously, who smokes inside buildings anymore anyway?! For that matter who still smokes these days? That’s so 20th century!
Overall, my opinion of Chinese people as pushy, rude individuals has changed. I apologise for my brutal honesty, but that was my opinion based on my experiences in China over the last couple of years. I have prayed about this many times but found it hard to get past these thoughts when everyday I kept getting distracted by very annoying circumstances At times its has been very difficult to live here as there just seems to be a lack of common courtesy.
Since Eli came into our lives, we have seen an overwhelming amount of kindness and I love this new side of China that I have come to know.
Here are but a few examples of that kindness…
|“Mom, who are these people in our car??” (She was
frightened by us at first, but then she touched Justin’s
shoulder to say hi. Cute!)
Two weeks ago we were waiting downstairs for a taxi. This has proved to be quite a challenge over the last couple of months. Taxis are for the most part M.I.A lately. It’s not uncommon to stand for 20+ minutes trying to hail a cab. There were a few Chinese smart phone apps released recently that allow people to call taxis to pick them up. That leaves us non-Chinese speaking people stranded and hanging onto the hope that we will catch a taxi who is not heading off to pick someone up. To add insult to injury, Qingdao is currently swelteringly hot and standing outside, even in the shade, is like being in a sauna. The sweat pours from us and there seems to be no relief from the heat! While we wait, Justin folds up our stroller and tries to flag down a cab, I take Eli in my arms and try to find a shaded area to stand in. Although it’s no cooler in the shade, we want to avoid direct sunlight on his delicate baby skin. On this hot summer’s day two weeks ago, we had been waiting for about 10 minutes when a car pulled up near us and rolled down their window. At first we didn’t pay too much attention, not wanting to miss an empty passing cab. The driver was so eager to get our attention that she pulled over, stopped her engine and got out of the car. We saw a girl of roughly 3 years of age peer out of the back window. I immediately realized that this was one of my primary school students’ mothers and she wanted to give us a ride. This has happened a few times during the school year. Moms see me waiting for the bus, and since they were going that way, they would offer me a ride to school. I didn’t even think twice before telling Justin that it was okay and he should get into the car. The lady asked where we were going and said “okay, I will take you”. As we pulled away I waited for the sweet lady to say who’s mom she was. She didn’t. We asked her where she was going, and she said that she was just returning home – the same apartment complex where we live – and she saw us waiting in the heat so she wanted to help us. That was when it dawn on me… We had no relation to this lady at all. She wasn’t a mom from our school. She was just a kind lady who saw us and wanted to help. This kind stranger drove us all the way downtown and never asked for anything in return. It was simply just a random act of kindness. I was amazed!!
|Kind-stranger-lady and her 3 year old daughter|
It didn’t stop there…
A week later we took Eli to the international Clinic for a routine check up. It was raining and carrying him in my arms, I am unable to open and hold an umbrella too. Justin was there but he was getting our stroller out of the back of the taxi. As I walked towards the building, holding one hand over Eli’s face to shield him from the rain, in the corner of my eye I saw a man running towards us. When I say running, I mean it, this guy was charging towards us at a ridiculous speed. Why?? Well he wanted to hold his umbrella over Eli and I. He then walked with us, in the rain, holding his umbrella over the two if us until we were safely into the building. Again… I was amazed by this kind man and his eagerness to help us!! It warmed my heart!
Justin does all the grocery shopping for this newly expanded family. Occasionally we go with him, but Elijah and I never go alone. Last week I attempted some grocery shopping alone with Elijah for the first time. This is not an easy task in China where we have no car and sometimes the smaller stores don’t have trolleys. How do I support my baby in his sling, carry a diaper bag and a shopping basket, and also use pick up items that we need? Not an any easy feat to say the least, and then I realised that I needed to call Justin because I didn’t know which milk to buy (I can’t read the labels remember?!)! When this happened, I put my basket and diaper bag down on the floor, and then tried to balance Eli’s sling on my crouching legs as I reached into the diaper bag to find my phone. A lady who was passing by saw me, and quickly ran over to pick up my basket and diaper bag so that I could comfortably reach into the bag. She even offered to hold Eli (of course she would offer that, haha) but I politely declined. Again, another act of random kindness by a stranger who was just passing by.
|Elijah – 4 weeks 4 days old
Our Little Man in Training
In the last few days two cars have stopped to offer us lifts outside our apartment. Of course we would never get into an a car if it didn’t feel safe, but usually the driver is female or there are kids in the car. Don’t worry dad, I would never take a lift if Justin wasn’t with me. But the truth is that life is really safe here!! If these strangers are not sure where we are going, they take out their phones and call the place we are trying to get to in order to get directions. Their willingness to help us is truly astounding!
I have started noticing that people genuinely want to help us. Yes I’m sure they want to help us even more because we are foreign and therefore a novelty around here, but regardless of that, I see the kindness and generosity in the people around me now. It is very refreshing. It makes it harder for me to get upset when people run up to the stroller to look at Eli. They really just want to see this Caucasian baby and how cute he is. Now it makes me smile and if I don’t want them to touch I simply just keep moving so they can’t get their hands inside his stroller cover, and if they do… Well, I try to remind myself that it’s okay. They are simply overjoyed to see a baby who looks so different. I feel honoured that they all stand around and coo over my son. I think he is adorable and so do they… So sometimes I now stop to let them have a look at our bundle of cuteness. And since calming down in this regard they seem to try to touch him less! I hear them saying how cute he is and how big his eyes are. Then they look at me and say that I have big eyes too. That’s about all I understand of their Chinese, but it’s enough to make me smile. They mean no harm trying to touch him, and I understand that now. It’s a tough cultural barrier to get over but I’m fighting to figure it out because I couldn’t handle the frustration I was feeling before. I’m not one for negativity. Sure there are many dirty hands out there, but I don’t want my son to see my negatively barking at anyone who comes near him so I’m trying to take a new approach and so far it’s been working really well.
So there you have it, we have experienced various acts of kindness by local Chinese people and it has really brought on a change of attitude for this new momma! I’m never going to be cool with a kid kicking sand in my son’s face (true story, haha), but I have relaxed in the other departments and I feel a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders!!
Have you shown any random act of kindness lately?
Try it! Make someone’s day!