Tomorrow's my last day in Lima! Well, until I come back in February. That didn't sound as dramatic for an opening. And Sunday I'll be traveling ALL day. As in, 2o hours or so.
But let's not think about that just now.
The singing children mentioned in the last post, and present but hardly visible in above picture, were the main event of a Christmas Extravaganza, which is where we headed after that lovely beach photoshoot.
Well, it wasn't called that exactly. It was HSBC Navidad, like the bank, which sounds a little less charming. I say that even though one of my favorite parts of the show was at the end when Santa said, "HSBC wishes all the children a Merry Christmas!" Santa lives in the real world, kiddies, where you can indeed put a price on Christmas joy. (sarcasm, sarcasm.)
Another of my favorite parts was watching all the young families that came out in force to watch the show. All those cute little pudgy faces, their big round eyes staring up at the flashing lights with their mouths slightly open in awe. I felt like there was a million beautiful photos just waiting for me to take them, but discretion made all my sly attempts turn out blurry messes.
And there was one little girl in particular in the arms of her parents right next to me who was so painfully cute that I just had to make funny little faces at her. I did not anticipate, however, that they would make her she reach out her arms and lean over for me to hold her like I was a fun aunt.
I wasn't sure what to do at first: Don't know them at all. We're in a public place. They'd probably be weirded out by a stranger holding their baby. I want to just squeeze those pudgy little cheeks.
That last one won out.
Her parents, as predicted, were a little miffed. Especially her mother. But more from surprise at their daughter's eagerness to leap into the arms of a complete stranger than that I actually took her. (Imagine if I had candy a sketchy white van...I understand their concern.) The woman said, "She never goes to people like that..." I held her up and ooh and aahed over the show for a bit in Spanish and then gave her back. After which her mother tried to distract her with food and balloons.
I swear, that is the first stranger's baby I have ever held! That I remember. And I'm fairly certain from their reactions I'm the first stranger the baby ever wanted to hold her. What brought it on? A combination of my new found child magnetism and the great mood children get in when they're up past their bedtimes, obviously.
Or, if that doesn't work for you, I do have an alternate theory. The children's programming here, even what does not come from the US, is brimming with whiter people. Not to mention the pictures of white children on the sides of childcare buildings. Not to mention the way many of the adults around them treat white foreigners with special consideration.
White privilege is one of the things that is so much more apparent to me in Lima, though of course it still exists in the states too. I've had many, many conversations about it, and I'm not gonna get way into it here. But the thought that it might have had something to do with the special moment I had with that little girl is unsettling and saddening.
In fact, maybe I'll just go back to thinking I have a new found child magnetism.