Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bare baby bums everywhere!

One of the very first things that I noticed when we moved to China was the vast majority of children that were walking around with their bare bums visible. I didn't understand it at first, but after much research, I have decided to share this cultural phenomenon with you. 

Split pants are called "kaindangku." in Chinese, it literally means "open-crotch pants". In China you will see many babies, toddlers and young children wearing them everywhere. They relieve themselves on streets and every place imaginable. Let me explain... 

Toilet training in China usually takes place very early on. A parent sits on a chair with their legs spread apart. The child is then held between their legs (their hands under the child's knees- the child above the ground in a type of squat position but with their legs apart). The parents makes a "ssss" sound to try to encourage the child to go. I have heard they also use whistles. (Like Lassie!)  This is a type of training that when he hears the sound and squats, its time to go! The two of them sit there and wait until the child does their business. Sounds genius right? 

Heres the problem...they decide to do this potty training out and about, anywhere and everywhere. It is not uncommon to walk down the street and see a parent holding a child over a trash can to encourage the bowel movement. That is actually pretty considerate. I have seen some parents initiate this event on sidewalks, so many times! I still remember nudging my friend, "Don't look now but that little girl is peeing on that dog." 

This is just an accident waiting to happen. 

Lets be honest. At first I was horrified. "Use the bathroom!" "I don't want to see your childs bum galloping down the street!" "That kid is way too comfortable being naked." 
After awhile, I found myself getting used to seeing this activity. The day I felt like I was a true expat was the day I thought to myself, "You go girlfriend! You just pooped in the gutter without help!" 

Although I think its a little weird to whistle at your child to tell them to poop, I hear my American friends talk about their potty training horror stories and split pants don't seem so bad. 

Except, I still have this reoccurring nightmare that the potty training child wearing split pants will have a diarrhea episode while being held by mama dearest. I think split pants will be one China tradition that I do not embrace. Little Samantha will wear her imported, and expensive Huggies. But, I will still laugh and shake my head while little Ting Ting craps in the rosebushes. I really love living in Shanghai. Truly.