Leo gets his kicks

As Leo grows older, he’s become more and more aware of all the attention he garners as a foreign baby in China. Everyone still adores him and wants to interact with him, but these days he is developing a healthy sense of his own space and he’s not always willing to do so.

Today, at a bus stop, two well-meaning Chinese Nainais (older grandmotherly women) we’re talking with him and telling him how "pretty" he was. They wanted to stoop down and play with him in his stroller, something he was not willing to do at the time (it was late, he was hungry and not in the mood for the attention). He repeatedly told them in Chinese, "Bu yao!" (meaning, "Don’t want!"). However, Chinese peoples’ boundaries are much less tight than ours are in the States, and specifically, children’s boundaries are the least respected of all here. Generally children are laughed at and then the adults do what they want. I tend not to agree with this aspect of Chinese culture, as I think it’s good to teach children a healthy sense of self and a respect for your own needs as well as those of others – and part of that, in my opinion, is having your wishes about your personal space respected.

Well, this Nainai decided, as many Chinese do, not to heed my son’s "Bu yao!" and got right in his cute little foreign face. As our bus was coming, I didn’t actually see this happening, but I suddenly saw her jump up and yell, "He kicked me! Hard!" She was rubbing her mouth, as Leo had really aimed well and kicked her straight in the face.

I sputtered out a quick, "I’m sorry!" as I jumped on the bus with Leo. JM did the same, and we semi-chided Leo for kicking a grandma. However, it was hard to feel that sorry or really discipline Leo for kicking – as Leo had given her adequate verbal expression of his disinclination to interact with her in the first place. I’m secretly glad he feels empowered to ward of unwanted attention, and definitely plan to intervene sooner on his behalf the next time I think he’ll haul out and kick another grandma. I don’t have to worry about his assertiveness, that’s for sure.


2 Responses to “Leo gets his kicks”

  1. 1 mjfalk November 3, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    No wonder he got kicked out of kindergarten.

  2. 2 Lisa Romain November 4, 2009 at 4:04 am

    GO LEO!!!!!

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November 2009
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