I have become an extremely interesting person apparently. I know this because people stare at O and me ALL THE TIME. And not subtly either. People sometimes point and stare and I feel like I’m in the zoo. I feel eyes on me all the time, and I know as I walk past people if I turned around they would be staring at my retreating figure too. I don’t mind, and I’m not surprised, but I think O might find it pretty tiresome when he’s older.
Sometimes they come up to me and ask me stuff too. Here is a small selection of the more memorable ones:
Saudi Woman: The Baby is you?
Saudi Woman: He no have yellow hair.
Me: That’s right, he doesn’t. (Big smile)
Kenyan Bathroom attendant: Is his father African?
Me: Yes and no. My husband and I adopted him from Ethiopia.
Kenyan Bathroom attendant: I am from Kenya so he is my brother! (Embraces O like a long lost relative)
Ugandan lady, also bathroom attendant, watching me intently as I change his nappy: Tsk. Hmm. Hmm. Tsk. Where is your baby from?
Me: Brief explanation, adopted, Ethiopia etc.
Ugandan lady: In my culture we wrap our babies up warmly with blankets… We believe it’s very important. (Pointedly disapproving look at my son)
Me: Well I’m from Northern Europe and we think it’s ok to get a little bit cold sometimes and it’s not good to be wrapped up too warm. (Big smile)
Lebanese man: Where did you buy him from and how much did you pay for him?
Me: We don’t buy and sell humans. That’s just wrong. (Turned my back and walked away)
Kenyan shop assistant: I think his father is from South Africa?
Me: Quick explanation.
Kenyan shop assistant: How do you feed him?!
Me: With a bottle
Kenyan shop assistant: What do you do if he wakes up and cries in the night?
Me: I wake up and cuddle him
Kenyan shop assistant: And if he’s hungry?
Me: I feed him.
Kenyan shop assistant: You feed him yourself?! Even in the night?!
Me: Yes. I am his mother.
Phillipina Shop assistant: What is he?
Me: A baby. (Sometimes it annoys me a bit.)
Shop assistant: Yes, but whose is he?
Me: He’s mine.
Shop assistant: Really? (Totally disbelieving)
Shop Assistant: Ok, but what is his father?
Me: (Resisting the urge to say a man) British
Shop Assistant: (Frowning) No Ma’am
Me: Who is your father?
Shop assistant: Sorry Ma’am?
Me: Don’t apologise.
See, I’m not always tolerant and chilled about it, about 1% of the time I’m sarcastic or deliberately obtuse.
The security guard in my car park is driving me mad, and I see him ALL THE TIME. To explain, he caught me off guard a long time ago. Basically, he used to incessantly ask when I was going to have children and why we didn’t have any yet. Eventually I snapped, and explained that I had lost some pregnancies and it wasn’t easy etc. He then came up to me every single time he saw me and told me that Allah will give me a baby because I’m a good person.
And then before we brought O home I explained that we were going to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. His English isn’t great and it took him a couple of days to digest this, but then he rushed over to me and confirmed that he understood, and that in his country (Bangladesh) people do this too!! But that I mustn’t adopt from Africa because, and I quote, “they are all liars and cheats”.
Well, I didn’t take that advice to heart obviously. He was happy and excited to meet O when we brought him home, but then immediately told me that Allah will definitely make me pregnant now because I deserve to have a real baby of my own. I have given up trying to explain I have a son that I love and am happy with, and he is a real baby, and that I don’t want to get pregnant. I’m trying to avoid conversations with him now, and just stick to the wave through the (closed) car window.
But I have to say, most people who I talk to are overwhelmingly positive and kind, and it makes it easy to be gracious to the rude and ignorant people.
I think it makes me more approachable in a nice way too. For example, there are loads of Saudis here on holiday at the moment, and lots of the women coo like crazy over O. They kiss his head, praise God for him, bless him, squeeze his hands shake their heads and laugh with joy and wonder. I doubt that they would be so comfortable doing that with a blue eyed blonde child. It’s nice and a completely genuine reaction to my beautiful baby boy.