We just experienced our first Children’s Day here in China, and let me tell you, it is a Big Deal.
We didn’t realize how much until yesterday, when the park near our house was more jam packed with people than any other day since our arrival nearly a year ago.
Maybe it’s to make up for kids being nearly universally dropped off at school by 8 am and picked up at 4:45 pm, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there, the whole rest of the year, starting at age 2 or 3.
The kids had a program at the kindergarten, which we were told to show up for at 7:25 am.
Our family of six actually made it on time with everyone dressed, fed and coffee’d up…(well, to-go cup in hand)
All the classes gathered on the playground area to dance and march around before going up to their classes for the morning, with parents enthusiastically videoing the events.
We had some fairly typical moments of realizing the language barrier still exists–probably a sign I ignored, as usual.
At least I suspect that is why I left the kids in their classrooms dressed in their cute new dresses and returned to find them both in long (borrowed from teacher) t-shirts and their white tights, minus the dresses. Everyone else apparently knew to bring a change of clothes…
After lunch we did what every good parent does on Children’s Day: we went to the park to catch some action and eat fresh spun cotton candy. It was being sold right next to a fragrant booth selling Dorian fruit. I’ve never smelled a fresh fruit that resembles the odor of smelly rotting socks more intimately.
As always, we drew as much of a crowd as the sideshows of a 3 ring circus with our 4 children (you can watch this brief video if you want to feel like a celebrity).
But on to a more reflective note.
The orphanage celebrated Children’s Day too. I was there on Monday, the day before, when everything was being prepped.
They just finished a brand new building with lots of nice rooms and activities for the children, and everyone moved over from the old building in the past week.
There was a new child, an alert and interactive girl with Down’s syndrome about 10 years old, with her hands tied because she kept hitting the staff. She was probably frightened. I would be too, if I had been found abandoned in a park by the police.
There were cute babies with cleft palate repair, toddlers with missing fingers and toes. Kids with heart defects and blue lips and fingers. I saw an 8 year old boy with hydrocephalus and a head twice normal size, but so smiling and cheerful and snapping his fingers in a little game with me. Beautiful, beautiful children.
Bigwigs were coming to tour the new facilities for Children’s Day, and the kids did some dances and stuff for them.
Americans often say, “Every day is Children’s Day.” I even read it on wikipedia. That’s probably why I never heard of it until moving to China.
But whether we celebrate Children’s Day in a massive way once a year, or “every day” all year long, the real question is how much of eternal value are we pouring into the lives of the children we know? Beyond the cotton candy and video camera moments, I mean?
Are we living lives that makes them want to be like us?
Are we teaching them about kindness, compassion, forgiveness?
Are we instilling a sense of justice?
Are we teaching them to respect the lives of the unborn, the maimed, the castaways?
Most of all, are they desiring to know God because of who we are?