Recently, James had the pleasure of hanging out with a few State folks who came to China on a temporary basis to help out with stuff.
They'd never been to China before.
And now that James and I have been in China for something like almost eight months, it's interesting to see what folks that have newly-arrived notice that he and I don't even see anymore.
Before you move to China, people try to prepare you for some of the totally whacked things you will see when you get here. Except that I hate it when people say stuff in English that basically means nothing to me. For example, before we moved here we would read all manner of vague verbiage like "It is sometimes difficult for westerners to acclimate to some local Chinese practices." And I would think: What does that MEAN?!?! Use real English, please!
So I will. I will use real English for you, dear readers. Prepare yourselves.
Translate the above vague statement to: So, you will be walking down the sidewalk to go to lunch and then, on the sidewalk, there will be a human being that is pooping and you will be all HOLY CRAP, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!?! but you will keep walking while also trying not to step in phlegm/yellow puddles/poo, and you will remind yourself (for the zillionth time) that you will throw away all of the pairs of shoes that you've worn here in China at the end of your tour.
You see, babies/toddlers/young children here don't wear diapers. They wear something called "split pants." (And this is a good time to tell you that I didn't take any of the pictures in this blog post - that I grabbed them all off the internet.)
Behold, split pants:
So, yes, you will be walking down the sidewalk/walking through the grocery store/walking through the museum/standing on the subway and then some kid will squat and out will come... the stuff you THINK comes out...and if you are with newly-arrived, visiting westerners who have never been to China before, you will very much have to tell them that yes, this happens. Constantly.
Because that child? In this next picture? Is doing what you THINK it is doing:
Welcome to China.
If the child is old enough, it will squat on its own and do its thing, like the child in the picture above. If it isn't, the grandmother/mother will hold it in a certain way (yes, ANYWHERE), like this:
And when you walk by and you see a grownup/child combination in that sort of arrangement, you immediately look away unless you want to have to go home and bleach your eyes.
Sure, there are diapers here, but almost no parents use them. And no, it's not a money thing, at least for lots/many folks. At one point, James actually saw a Mercedes pull over on the side of the road (there's some serious money in China), the back door of the Mercedes open, two grownup arms extend out of the back seat holding a baby in the fashion like you see above, and a little penis flying about in the wind, doing its thing.
Oh yeah, we're not in America anymore.
Chinese parents will walk down the street with their split-pantsed kid all holding them and playing with them and I see this sort of thing all the time:
And I think: isn't that sort of DANGEROUS?!?! For the parent, I mean?!? But, then again, I remember that it's really not my problem.
I mean, it's my problem sometimes, of course. Because there we will be in McDonald's and I'll look over and I'll see some young child sitting in the chair all:
And I'm sorry - maybe this is totally Western Judgey McJudgerpants of me - but I can't help but think... ewwwwww.
And then the same split-pantsed child runs into the little McDonald's playplace and slides down the plastic slide and I can't help but be grateful that my kids are basically grown and I don't have to forbid them from playing on the playplace equipment.
Or I'll be shopping somewhere and I'll look over at another shopping cart and I'll see:
And I'll inwardly roll my eyes and sigh. Not unlike what I do when I'm in the grocery store and there are little yellow puddles on the floor.
NOTE TO VISITORS IN CHINA: Never step in the yellow puddles. It's not, like, canned pineapple juice that spilled or something. You will see them everywhere. After a while you will forget that they're there.
And yes, babies/toddlers/children will "go" ANYWHERE. Literally anywhere.
Last time James was in the Chengdu airport flying out on a trip somewhere, he was standing in line at the ticket counter and - you guessed it - a child right next to him squatted and did its thing on the floor.
OF THE AIRPORT.
So, yeah. I'll shut up now. I just wanted to prepare you, in case you ever came here. Because westerners may find it difficult to acclimate to some of the local practices.