Tuesday, April 9, 2013
This past week our kids were on spring break, which landed on Easter on the first weekend, and Tomb Sweeping, the Chinese holiday on the second weekend.
So on the Saturday of the Tomb Sweeping holiday we took a drive to Suzhou which is about an hour and a half drive from where we live.
We went to visit two temples, a Taoist temple and a Buddhist monastery and temple. Both were beautiful and expansive. They both featured multiple buildings with ornate decorations and statues of deities, many of them unfamiliar to me.
The places were crowded and incense was smoldering in large pits, multitudes of red candles were alight in small pagodas and ash danced in the wind. Many people were going from temple chamber to temple chamber bowing and praying at each deity. Others, like us were eagerly snapping photos and taking in the sight of it all.
I noticed as soon as we got there that we were getting more stares and attention than in Shanghai.
I had read, and also heard to expect, to be treated as a sort of novelty and that there is a certain celebrity in being a Westerner, particularly for the children. Even in Shanghai the kids get looks, smiles, interest, especially Harper she is still quite small, she is bubbly and has a huge smile, dimples, big beautiful eyes and curly hair. The curly hair makes her particularly attractive apparently, we have often noticed women reaching out in passing to touch her hair.
So there we were, in a part of the Buddhist temple filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of golden Buddhas. It was spectacular. I was busy looking and taking a few photos when I noticed a gathering group of women smiling and pointing and talking to each other about Mason, Avery and Harper ( my kids). I smiled at one of them and she started speaking to me very enthusiastically in Chinese and moving closer in to Avery. Before we knew what was happening it was like paparazzi, and our kids were on the red carpet. The women were taking turns having pictures taken with the kids, they touched their faces, and even hugged and cuddled Harper. One woman in clear gestures, and in fun, made out like Harper would now be going with her.
You might be wondering if I took offense or stepped in to intervene for my children. I did not because my kids were just fine, they were smiling and quite happy with the attention. Had they looked the least bit worried or scared I would have stepped in, but the scene was one of delight on all accounts.
When we were done in that temple room we headed outside, the crowd followed and a second photo shoot continued there. That is when I took the picture above. Look how everyone is smiling, everyone in that picture is happy. I love the togetherness in that, even with strangers who we could not even speak to.
These people loved the beauty of my children. My children were clearly a highlight of their holiday, and they became a highlight of ours. Honestly it just warmed my heart and made me proud to be a mother. I witnessed the possibility of the kinship of humanity. All those Buddhas were smiling too.