Monday, November 22, 2010

Child-friendly China

Had a relaxed and lovely weekend (except for not being able to sleep, gaaaah!) in Suzhou with friends (C&C) from the past. They had a baby girl 3 months ago so my significant other and me got a feel for what it can be like to be parents in China. As C and I were out walking the baby (or OK, walking might be exaggerating, we were simply pushing her in her pram!) at a crossing, the cars almost hit each other as the drivers and passengers were so busy looking at us and didn’t keep their eyes on the traffic light/road/other cars.

-Holy s****! I said.

-Oh, almost 1 year away from Suzhou and you forget the perks of living here? Welcome back Jonna! My friend said.

We walked to the popular spot “The Rainbow Walk” where we sat down at Starbucks to have a coffee and a chat. Not as easy as it sounds, however, because people constantly came up to the pram, looking down at the baby and throwing out comments. Or well, not everyone. Some people, like an old man, simply walked up to her, stared for some 3 minutes, and then walked away.

-Holy S****! How do you deal with that?! I said

-I don’t when I’m in a bad mood. Sure it’s cute that they all want to see her but when they start touching her I freak. Also, it’s sometimes frustrating when you want to take a power walk and are constantly held up because of baby observers.

We were interrupted by a young couple:

-我的天阿!!! 老外宝宝, 老外宝宝!!!
(Oh my god, a foreign baby!)

-Holy S***! Is that what they say, every time they see you?

-About 80% of the time, yes!

On the plus side, however, Suzhou (who I always considered a bit of a dull place) is proving to be a very baby-friendly city. C told me of how they rearrange the tables at restaurants so that she can bring her pram inside, and how people get scared, but helpful, when she sometimes asks someone for help with carrying the pram up/down a stair. With it's wide roads it's also proving to be a friendly place when it comes to pushing your pram around.

So there you go. All in all I'd say it's a baby friendly place. Just be ready to feel like a ZOO animal when pushing that pram around.


Chee said...

I don't want to be rude but there are times I get really mad when people come and touch my kids in China. I especially hate it when they try to touch the kids when the latter are napping in their strollers. People will come and talk loudly and say "look, the kid is sleeping!" I will reply "and why do you want to wake them up by trying to touch them?"

Anonymous said...

This is one of the reasons I'm terrified to have a kid here!

Anonymous said...

China hasn't changed a bit in the last 30 years in this aspect. We lived in China in the mid 80's with our 2-year old daughter. Yes, we felt like Zoo animals wherever we went.

Anonymous said...

I actually had a lady pick up my toddler and walk off with him to show him to her friends. She treated him like he was some object she found on the street. She could not understand why that was not at all appropriate. Thankfully, this was not the norm and mostly I just had the onlookers who were fascinated by everything we did.
Becky K.

Yeming said...

Hey, maybe this might be an interesting article for you on raising a kid in China, esspecially mixed. It focusses on whether raising a child in China is beneficial for him, or if it is maybe better to raise him in a multicultural society

btw, i am a mixed blood myself

Jonna Wibelius said...

Interesting comments, my friend is obviously not the only one who has experienced this in China!

Unknown said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one having this problem. I live in Shanghai with my Chinese wife and three year old son. I take him out for a walk every day, and most people are OK, but every now and then some asshole tries to touch him.

Yesterday an old man held my son's hand behind my back. I growled 'Bie peng!' (don't touch). A few weeks ago my son was walking up and down some steps outside the bank when a man just walked up to him and put his hands on my son's cheeks. He seemed surprised when I said 'Gan shenme!' (What are you doing!)

It's making me paranoid. I'm getting scared to take him out.

Last year I was teaching two Chinese boys at their home. At lunchtimes I took them downstairs to the playground via the elevator. One day when we were in the elevator with two workmen, one of the men reached out and put his hand on one of the boy's head. He must have thought the boy was my son.

This country does seem to have an awful lot of people who need to be taught how to behave around children (and foreigners).

nat said...

Looks like most of you guys think your children are too precious to be touched by strangers. loosen up folks