It started as soon as we arrived in Turkey, at the Istanbul airport. We were going through security for our connecting flight to Antalya, and after Amelia walked through the metal detector, one of the male security guards knelt down– I thought to inspect Amelia or ask her to take her boots off– and swept her up and stood holding her and talking to her, telling her how pretty she was. Then he asked me to take my boots off– and the lady guard with him took Amelia from him, kissed her, and smoothed her hair, and talked to her sweetly in Turkish until we were ready to move on to our gate. As we were making our way down the aisle on the airplane toward our seats, a young woman pulled Amelia close and gave her a big kiss on the cheek. This sort of thing basically continued non-stop until we left Turkey! Almost everyone who saw Amelia stopped what they were doing, and came to pet her, kiss her, smooth her hair, or pinch her cheeks. Fortunately for everyone, Amelia loved the attention, and eventually just started holding her arms out for a hug when someone stopped to notice her. They literally treated her like one might treat and actual princess. Going shopping was like trick-or-treating for Amelia, as everyone had a little gift for her. I wish I had taken more pictures of these interactions! But here are a few:
|A tourist who thought the picture in front of a Kemer Statue would be better with an American child in it.|
|All of these people actually crossed the street to come check her out while we were waiting for the bus.|
|Having Amelia with me on this day got us invited for tea and juice, Turkish coffee, and good conversation.|
|Oh, just a security guard at a mall in Antalya…|
Just so you know– it wasn’t just men! All the women also loved Amelia, I just didn’t get pictures of them, for some reason. I asked someone we met there (yes, through Amelia!) about the way Turkish people respond to children– was it because there weren’t very many kids around? She said, “No! We love children. Too much. We have too many already, but we cannot stop because we love them so much!” I do have to note, though, that there must be something extra-beloved about blue eyes and rosy cheeks, because I honestly did not see other children being responded to quite as enthusiastically as mine. In the six countries we have been in this year, Turkey definitely ranks #1 in love for children. The rest would line up like this: #2 Italy, #3 America, #4 England, #5 Germany, #6 definitely France.
Needless to say, Amelia was very unhappy to leave Turkey. This kind of warmth made our time there really sweet.
And I’ll end with my favorite interaction– this gentleman invited her up to to play a little music with him, getting her posed for the perfect picture.