It is hard to be an obvious foreigner in a strange land and then try to talk to people. While people are superficially friendly - particularly delighted to smile with the almost always happy Quentin - having a conversation beyond polite niceties has been nonexistant.
Today we were at Starbucks in the mall and a little boy that looked about Theo's age chose to sit next to Theo. Theo and the little boy acknowledged each other in the way that males of all ages (and apparently all cultures) seem to do. I encouraged Theo to say hello to the boy and tell him his name and Theo said he felt too shy. The mom sat down and spoke to her son in Cantonese. Martin, who was with us, told me - Mary say hello. And I felt the same as Theo - too shy.
Holding tight to Quentin (as everybody loves a smiling baby) I did eventually say hello. The woman had lived in the UK was very kind when she learned that I had just arrived. She encouraged Theo and I to go to the playground area on top of the mall in the late afternoon once it was cooler. Theo and I did go about 5:45 (in the shade it still felt like mid-day in the sun in the UK). As luck would have it we ran into the woman with her two sons and also met another woman with her son. Theo felt hot and seemed tired so was not fantastic about joining in with soccer though he did join in and had a fun time playing an elaborate hide and seek that entailed going in and out of the foyer of the building and adjacent to plantings. The urban jungle itself became the playground. For me I enjoyed speaking to the two women. While we both had a good time (and Quentin was as smiley as ever) it still is of course not the same as meeting long-time friends for a play in the park. First, there isn't really a park and secondly it is much more of an effort to learn new rules of play which are presented to you half in English, half in Cantonese. Most of all, rather than falling into a comfortable setting, picking up old conversations and just having a relaxing time it is all much more of an effort. The conversation is much more superficial and more work than meeting old friends. For me the experience of today was interesting to learn how much Theo and my experiences can parallel each other.
We got back to our apartment about 7:30 and saw a pretty sunset over the harbor on our way back. I was surprised when Martin was not there and then received a message saying that he was going to a last minute business dinner. I had fed Theo before going out to play so for some relief from the heat when we returned I took both the boys to the pool for the now familiar balancing act of Quentin on one shoulder and letting Theo swim to the other. By the time I had given the boys baths and gotten them both to bed it was late. Once Quentin was asleep I had a chance to talk with Theo about the day and he said that he was happy to have played hide n seek with the boys. I was happy to have met some other mothers too.
Martin was out late so I did not see him before I went to sleep - I felt like the children and I could have been anywhere on the globe today having not seen Martin in the evening (so why do we have to be here?). I usually take some time to visit family and friends in the US this time of year and wish that those people I love could meet happy Quentin and see how much Theo has grown rather than us feeling lost in superficialities here. Hopefully tomorrow and the day after that will get easier day by day.