Please Curb Your Child

From what I understand, a typical Westerner's reaction to seeing a child in split-pants is something like:

  • Delight in seeing cute little butt-cheeks as the child walked away from them.
  • Dismay when they saw that the fronts of the babies were likewise uncovered.
  • Disgust if they happened to see the babies making use of said pants.

In China, it is not atypical for children to be potty-trained by the age of one. That is, to have enough control of their bowels and bladders that they're not peeing and pooping uncontrollably.

When compared to the US standard of around 36 months, this is quite amazing. I mean, think of the tons of disposable diapers that aren't thrown in the landfills each year. (I've often joked that we've developed a "diapers to depends" attitude in the states.)

Now, little bowels and bladders just cannot hold as much waste as those in adults. And, sometimes there are stretches around where there aren't toilets. So, well, as the saying goes, "if you gotta go, you've gotta go".

Honestly, I'm not at all offended, disgusted, or otherwise put-off by this. Functions of life and death... and defecating is certainly key to living... are more obvious here. In the states, folks are removed from most of the unpleasantness of life... so much so that many dishes made from animals are often processed beyond recognition, and people are housed away in "retirement homes" when having them around becomes either too bothersome or too painful for a once dependent child to bear.

That said, I have only one request...

Comments:

As China's middle class grows, and people start to consume beyond absolute necessities, undoubtedly the advantages of the disposable diapers will be recognized. I believe that the split pants will lose market share to diapers, and quickly. Apparently Procter and Gamble believe it too.
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2007-08/02/content_6009105.htm.

"The US diaper brand, which entered China in 1997, has so far sold 5 billion diapers in the country." says it all.

Posted by Amiram on November 11, 2007 at 01:14 AM HKT #

What was your one request????? It is a shame that Americanization of China will make it so they have loads of wasted diapers and waste products that take up space and ruin the environment.

Posted by Aram on November 11, 2007 at 03:09 AM HKT #

To clarify, the use of split-pants and diapers aren't exclusive. That is, for the months leading up to a child being trained, they are swathed in diapers. In the good old days (tm), the diapers were made out of cloth. Now, well, the link that Amiram mentions tells where things are heading.

Beijing is already Americanized. Supermarkets are already chockablock full of brands we have learned to love (or hate, as the case may be) in the states... Coke, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, you name it. McDonalds, KFC, Piazza Hut, and Starbucks abound. (One small victory is that Starbucks was recently evicted from the Forbidden City.)

I do hope the use of split-pants is more of a cultural, rather than a class, difference. When I compare having babies sit around in excrement to not, the former is certainly more appealing.

The major indicator here, of course, will be whether the time it takes for a child to be trained increases.

Oh, the one request I have is noted in the title of this post... :)

Posted by Robs on November 11, 2007 at 04:12 AM HKT #

Greetings from a Tennessean living in Fengtai District! I was recently standing at the bus stop when a little boy took up the squat position right next to me and expertly relieved himself (uh, that would be No. 2!). He even scooted up after each "movement" fell. :) His mother then grabbed some grass and covered up the poo. I decided it was a good day to hail a cab. :)

Posted by Teresa on November 13, 2007 at 05:57 AM HKT #

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