Coming to terms with China

3 August 2014, Comments: Comments Off on Coming to terms with China

One of the hardest things for Westerners to come to terms with in China, is the apparently totally relaxed attitude towards children urinating and defecating in public places. Indeed, it seems like parents often choose the middle of a public area rather than at least moving to the very edge where it is less likely to inconvenience others. Once I was returning to my apartment complex which can only be entered through one narrow gate. There on the path in front of the gate, where everyone entering and leaving would have to walk, a child clearly in the supervision of an adult was taking a dump. I was dumbfounded! Is no one else here even slightly upset about this?

To be fair, I don’t think all Chinese people would be quite so lackadaisical when it comes to pooping outside. I have asked Chinese friends about this practice, they have said they don’t really understand it either and I got the impression that they themselves would not do it. To prove that this kind of thing really is controversial among Chinese people themselves, we have translated the following report from a Chinese newspaper.

2-year old girl poops in restaurant while mother looks on

From the SanQing DuShi newspaper, January 11, 2013

If you saw a child pee or poop in a restaurant where you were having a meal, and his or her parents were doing nothing but watching on, what would you do? Yesterday a netizen sparked a heated discussion online when she Twittered about an awkward eating experience she had just had. Everyone agreed that the children are not the ones to be blamed. Rather, the key is to educate the parents. The public believes that parents should educate their children in the little things, and also that restaurants should be responsible for the other customers.

Yesterday, netizen “He Rui’re” shared her experience on Weibo, along with a photo of a little girl squatting on the ground, while a young woman wearing a red down jacket with one hand leaning on a chair is watching on. “He Rui’re” said that on Jan 10 she had gone to a restaurant in Mingdemen for lunch with her friends. While they were eating, she suddenly lost her appetite because she noticed a two-year old girl squatting and pooping on the floor right next to where the four adults were sitting. A young woman was standing next to the girl and watching. A waiter approached to tell the young woman this was inappropriate, but she simply said she would clean it up afterwards. All the netizens who joined the discussion felt that this scenario would affect the other customers’ appetites. Some also said that kids are not to be blamed, while educating parents is the key.

In regard to those awkward eating experiences, Ms. Zhang, who has a two-year old daughter, said she often takes her daughter out to eat and would always take her to the bathroom when she needs the toilet. After all, restaurants are for eating in, not dumping in! It is not the responsibility of the children if you don’t discipline them in the little things. Others commenters believed that, also, the parents should keep their eye on their children at all times because kids are too young to behave themselves. Meanwhile, restaurant staff should promptly stop parents from doing the wrong thing, or assist parents in taking their children to the toilet.

Yesterday, our reporters contacted the restaurant manager, Ms. Luo, in regard to this event. She claimed that the waiter had warned the mother in time, but the mother did not take any notice. The customer is king – they could not force the child to stop. But she admitted that the incident did affect customer appetite. She made an apology to all the patrons on the restaurant’s behalf, and said they would stop and help the parents if the same thing were to happen again.

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Arthur Ma

Is a native of Lanzhou in Gansu Province. He studied statistics and English in Beijing and now works with XL China Aviation as a consultant and translator.

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