Ok, first let me say that I absolutely agree that parents are head-over-heels in love with their children, no matter how absolutely ridiculous they look. To parents, their children are the best looking tots in the world. So forgive me if I am too biased. Second, children do have that uncanny ability to make heads turn; just watch out the next time you meet someone walking down the street with their children or pushing a stroller. Most likely you’ll ignore the parent; most of the time your eyes will be straying to check out their kids. We all have a tendency to smile and wave at children, or even make faces at them to make them laugh.
Anyway, that’s how it is with Aya. You could not imagine the kind of attention she attracts, even when she was just a baby. For example, when she was about nine months, I took her to Osaka. While we were riding the Hankyu line, a group of junior high school kids were completely smitten by her. Japanese kids usually leave us alone (can you say gaijin, hello?), but with Aya, there was only so much they could do to avoid touching her cheek and blurting out, “Kawaii!” For some reason Japanese love those big eyes – “Ningyou mitai,” which means “like a doll.”
When she was only a year old, we took her with us to Italy. Well, she was this scrawny-looking one year old (she was teething, so she lost some weight then), but still she attracted a lot of attention. At the hotel where we stayed, the guy at the reception desk literally “ran” after us to look at her. He said, “Wait, wait, I want to see.” We were surprised to realize that he just wanted to get one good look at her. He said a lot of things in Italian, and while I could not really understand what he was saying, I did understand one word he said, -“Bella!” You’d think that was the only time he saw an Asian baby. Apart from this, there were also many instances when Italians we met on the street would stop and look at her, and say, “Ciao, Bella!!!” and then touch her chin or ruffle her hair. I had to restrain myself from smacking their intruding hands. Go and find other kids to pet, you! 😛
In Vienna, when Baggy and Aya were out taking a walk, out of the blue somebody asked permission to take a picture of Aya. I wasn’t with them when that happened, so I don’t know the details of that incident. We were kinda worried about a stranger taking her picture, but decided later that it was probably harmless.
In Florence, while we were taking a breather along the steps in front of the facade of the Duomo, a young lady suddenly approached us and shyly asked to take a picture of Aya. Aya does not warm up too easily to strangers, and so she promptly snubbed her. Disappointed, the lady walked back to her group. Not giving up so easily, one of the guys in her group took her camera and tried his luck. I think he took more than a few shots at Aya. He must have caught Aya with the slightest hint of a smile, so he returned quite triumphantly to the young lady with her camera. I wonder now if that picture will surface on the internet somewhere.
In most of the restaurants where we ate, we could not be left in peace by the waiters and waitresses who frequently waved to Aya, called her attention, made faces, and remarked on how “beautiful” our little girl was. At a gelato shop at Ponte Vecchio, the storeperson asked us where we came from. Hearing that we were from the Philippines, he added, “She’s beautiful.” Aya, oblivious of the ruckus, just went right on ahead eating her gelato. We smiled casually and said thanks, but deep inside we were oozing with pride.
Let’s just hope that when she grows up she would really be “bella,” unlike someone I know. Heheh!