I was riding a train with my two and a half year old daughter, Petra, caught the attention of a young Chinese boy who was perhaps four years old. He walked over to our seats and began trying to talk with my daughter. They hung out for a while, as I relaxed and looked out [...]
I was riding a train with my two and a half year old daughter, Petra, caught the attention of a young Chinese boy who was perhaps four years old. He walked over to our seats and began trying to talk with my daughter. They hung out for a while, as I relaxed and looked out the window. Before long the kids mother squealed. I looked down and saw the little boy had his weapon fully exposed. He was holding it in pissing position, taking aim directly at my leg. Luckily, his mother was able to scoop him up and run off to the bathroom before he opened fire.
In China, it is socially acceptable for children to piss and, in many instances, shit in public. Wherever you go in this country you will see children squatting in the streets letting it rip. Little boys just take out their things and urinate just about wherever they see fit. Often, a parent will try to direct their children to go to the bathroom over sewer grates, in bushes, or in a grassy area, but this is not always the case. It is not uncommon to see a young child pissing on the floor of a supermarket, a bus — just about anywhere.
“There was this guy in the Emart today that let his kid piss right in front of the door on the floor,” my wife raged. “He was only like twenty feet from the door and could easily have went outside but he just let his kid go on the floor.”
Chinese culture is liable to take many social parameters to the extreme: if kids are permitted to go to the bathroom in public, they will be going everywhere.
“When I was walking home I saw a kid that had to be at least seven years old shitting in the street in front of the McDonalds,” my wife told me about another incident of kids liberally being allowed to use the street as a toilet. “His mother was even holding him and laid down a plastic bag for him to poop on. I couldn’t understand it, there was a bathroom that they could have used for free in the McDonalds!”
The social parameter which allows for kids to relieve themselves in public is great for children who are toilet training. It’s far easier for a parent to allow their kid to drop trow and go in the street than it is to go flying off in a manic search for a toilet multiple times each day. It also hampers the toilet training process if a kid is kept in diapers each time it’s taken out in public. Small children in China often wear pants with openings in the rear with nothing on underneath which allows them to relieve themselves whenever they wish without needing to sit in their own waste while waiting to be cleaned.
My daughter, Petra, has grown accustom to waddling over to a tree, a bush, or sewer grate, pulling down her pants and letting it go. I must say that the fact that doing this is completely socially acceptable has made out travels in China a little less frustrating. Although there are many public toilets scattered liberally around the urban areas of this country, it still makes it easier that my kid can relieve herself just about wherever she pleases.
Children in China are generally potty trained far sooner than their brethren in the diaper dependent, stricter West. It never becomes normal for kids to piss and crap themselves here — they are use to expelling their waste away from their bodies from the start. Although diapers are becoming more common in China, they are still a fringe commodity and are not nearly as depended on as much as they are in the West. A Chinese kid may sometimes wear a diaper, but the parent will remove it and allow them to go in the street whenever they feel they may need to relieve themselves. The diaper here seems to only be a contingency plan for accidents, used my some middle and upper class families.
I’ll tell you one thing: I’d rather see kids using split back pants and crapping in the streets than metric tons of plastic diapers being manufactured and disposed of in a country of millions and millions of children expelling billions of turds each year.
In all, the social leeway allowing children to go to the bathroom in public creates a society with a lot less potty training woes and bladder control issues. A kid dropping trow and letting it rip in the middle of the sidewalk is part of the daily observations a traveler will make when walking around China, and one of those things that makes you realized that, yes, you are in a different culture among people with a slightly different outlook, value system, and way of approaching the essentials of existence.
As far as I’m concerned, I see it as no more disgusting for a kid to dispose of their waste in the street than to go in their pants for two years. The Western model of training kids to crap themselves just to train them not to crap themselves is a step that the Chinese simple don’t bother with.
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