Thursday, June 26, 2008


The other day, while waiting in line at the grocery store, a crowd of Chinese women gathered around the small center of attention perched on my hip. There was a discussion among the ladies in Chinese and then one of them asked me, "Why do you put her in pants?" With a little more pantomiming I eventually realized the question was - why do you use diapers?

At first I tried to explain that it was so Tovina does not make a mess in the store. But Chinese babies are brought into the store with split pants all the time and I have only heard 1 story of an emergency. So my response just seemed ridiculous to them. What they were asking was more ,why bother with diapers at all? There is all that cleaning up of things stuck to the skin and the cost of buying them and the irritation to the child's skin. Why, they wanted to know, would anyone choose that way?

In my time here I have learned a bit more about the whole split pants thing for children. Most parents seem to learn to read their infants signals very young so that by the age of 6 months or so they know when their children need to use the bathroom and can react appropriately. This also means that the children learn that certain signals will get them assistance for going to the bathroom. Given that a 10 month old's ability to wait is pretty limited, this does mean that small children end up using the ground around the tree in the middle of the sidewalk occasionally. But it also means that their parents carry them around with no diapers and pretty much no worries from a very young age. To have an almost 11 month old child with a diaper.. well, it led to the question above.

Then the line started moving and I was saved from further attempts to justify my approach.


Niki said...

Guess there are advantages to both ways,, still,,

Seth said...

"In America, you can't shit on the sidewalk." Whether that's good is up for debate, I guess. I can see the appeal for a parent not to have to deal with the diaper infrastructure and its many side effects, but I'm also happy there's not even more poo in the streets. But given the environmental impact of disposable diapers, maybe that's being too NIMBY. A little poo in the streets is starting to seem pretty good. :)