Saturday, April 18, 2009

Culture Clash

It's been warm these last few days. Blue sky. A bite of spring in the air, but temperate.

Gabe's running around in his flip-flops and shorts. Anna's similarly dressed. Olivia's decked out for summer, but since she's been dressing that way all winter, that's not saying much.

And Sophie, sweet little Sophie in her long pants, her little fleece jacket, and bare feet.

BARE FEET! What kind of mother am I?

The other day at the market, I was stopped by at least a hundred people (I wish I were exaggerating) who commented on the fact that my baby was not wearing socks and shoes.

"Bu xing! Bu xing!" That's not okay! Some are nice about it, others are not. One lady even tried to tell me in English because she thought her Chinese wasn't getting through.

Thankfully I know enough about Chinese culture to understand why they're concerned. People here still think you get sick from being cold. And I think there must be some particular theory about having cold feet that's even more concerning. Now I know being cold can weaken your immune system, but you don't get sick from being cold. And I don't think being out on a seventy-five degree day with bare feet is going to weaken anyone's immune system. I'm very happy in my flip-flops, thank you very much.

I promise to balance this post out with some very positive things about China. There are a zillion things I love about living here. But one thing I'm not going to miss is that everyone seems to think they have the right to give advice, to scold, to yell at me when they think I'm doing something wrong.

And usually that something wrong is something small. Like bare feet.

Aaron took Sophie down to the garden today. I was hanging up laundry in the pingtai when I heard an angry voice from below. "Bu xing! Bu xing!" I didn't even have to look to know what was going on. But I looked anyway.

A woman was yelling. Her husband was trying to pull her away, but she was yelling at Aaron and pointing at Sophie's feet.

I called down to him, "Do you want me to throw you down some socks?"

"No, that's okay." He grinned up at me.

I guess we both kind of like the attention. Or something.

1 comment:

  1. Believe me, Amy, your story is no different from here in North America. The older generation still thinks you can get sick from being cold. If that were true, I'd always be sick. And I'm not.

    Sophie is adorable. Almost makes me want another baby. Almost. :D Still don't know how you can have three young kids, an infant, write on your blog (and frequently, too), AND work on your novels. You're utterly amazing.