Without a doubt the biggest cultural difference I noticed upon coming to China is their use of "split pants" on their kids. I don't know the official name but this is what I call them as it literally fits the bill. From the front, they look like any other pants but the back is split all the way up the back seam of the butt so that the child's little rear end is on full display. Why? I asked this question many times until I finally found someone to explain it to me.
The Chinese believe that you can start potty training your child from about 4 months old. Crazy to us Americans but they swear by it here. They believe that every kid will start to give subtle clues when they need to go to the bathroom as early as 4 to 6 months. Also, by not using diapers they completely avoid nasty diaper rashes and it is better for the environment of course. But in my opinion, you have a host of other problems instead. For example, hygienically speaking, I think it's disgusting. Although some parents will throw on a diaper if they take their kid to the store, I have seen more than my fair share of bare butts on shopping carts. And as every parent knows, your kid WILL have accidents while potty training but as you can imagine, if your kid is in split pants the accidents happen in the middle of the sidewalk or worse yet, on the floor of the mall (yes, I have witnessed this). Sev and I have a running joke when we see poop on the sidewalk- is it human or animal? It's a toss up.
I have mentioned the chronic problem of public urination here but my latest theory is that it stems from split pants. As soon as a child indicates they need to go, their mother's take them to the nearest bush and lift them up to assume the position. The position consists of the mom holding the child with the kids back against her chest and then putting her arms behind the kids knees and lifting the child's knees to it's chest. This then splays out the kids genitals so they can whizz without getting anything on themselves. A lovely view for all to see. And if their are no bushes around, they will use whatever is available. I have seen mom's letting their kids pee in garbage cans and once, in a plastic bag at the indoor playground (even though their was a toilet just one floor up).
So that is the story of split pants in a nutshell. It was a tough decision but we have decided to stick with diapers for Audrey- at least for now! Sorry the below pics aren't better but it's tough to get a clear shot without looking like a pedophile.
Backless shorts- a new fashion trend?
Split pants in the mall- shortly after I took this pic, the kid peed on the floor and the parents just left it there and walked away.