Jessica and our oldest had this conversation this morning:
L: “Mommy, do you remember when you were talking about how Daddy was born in the horse’s ears?” Jessica: “What? Can you say that again?” L: “The horse’s ears…Daddy was born there. And you said that I went to the hospital and was born in the cow’s ears.” Jessica: “Are you telling silly stories again, L?” L: “Mommy, no! You said it!!! I was born in the ear of the cow!!!” Jessica (pieces finally colliding together): “Oh! L, I said you were born in the YEAR of the cow. And Daddy was born in the YEAR of the sheep. And Mommy was born in the YEAR of the horse. And K was born in the YEAR of the dragon.” L: “Are you sure I wasn’t born in the cow’s ear?”
A then a few minutes later from L: “Are there really dragons?”
For more stuff along these lines, try these topics:
“Don’t make me play with that disgusting foreign kid, Grandma! Those barbarians poo in their pants!”
“Wait, you mean you Chinese kids poo on the ground?”
Next time you’re appalled by Chinese people (or any other culture’s people) because they’re doing something that any halfway intelligent and nominally decent person would know not to do, just remember chances are high they feel they same way about you, and not always without reason.
P.S. — And just for kicks, here’s the poop in the potty song (also here – open then scroll down to For The Kids III). P.P.S. — For the record: I don’t think everything boils down to perspective; it’s not all relative. But a large amount of what we assume about the world — like much of what’s barbaric and what’s civilized, sit-downs or squatties — certainly is.
Even with the launch of my preschool rock star career, big-budget movie premier, and appearances on the sides of buses and shopping mall video billboards, I still have some catching up to do on my brother-in-law, but he better watch out.
The Chinese teachers took these on my phone during class when we were practicing for the preschool’s New Year’s show (I’m a preschool rock star in China). Ages 4-5 and 5-6, each video is a different class. (China users will need a VPN to see them, except for this one that made it to Youku.)
To really get a feel for the actual experience, turn your speakers all the way up and watch these videos on repeat. For three hours straight. Every morning. For a month.
We Wish You a Merry Chinese Preschool Christmas
We Wish You a Merry Chinese Preschool Christmas AGAIN
We Wish You a Merry Chinese Preschool Christmas YET AGAIN
My five-year-old niece in Canada started preschool two days a week when she was four. What’s often translated as “preschool” (幼儿园) in China starts when kids are two or three years old, all day five days a week. And if there’s a part-time foreign monkeyteachernative-English-speaking Caucasian, then it’s a “bilingual” preschool, and there better be an English part to the New Year’s show. Which is why crowds of Chinese three-year-olds yell We Wish You a Merry Christmas at me most mornings in December. :)
It’s fun when you can get a joke in another language, even if it is middle school potty humour. I’ve come across this joke before, and it’s a funny demonstration of the pronunciation differences between Chinese and English.
The dialogue in English and Chinese (with mouseover pinyin) is below the video clip:
Kid: [Mouth] 猫屎！ Cat poo! Teacher:对！ Correct! Kid: [Earth] 耳屎！ Earwax! Teacher:好！ Good! Kid: [Bees] 鼻屎！ Snot! Teacher:最后一个！ Last one! Kid: [Last] 拉屎！ Go poo! Teacher:全答对了！ 拉完屎之后呢……？ All answered correctly! And after going poo…? Kid: [Yes] 爷死！ Grandpa dies! Kid: [Nice] 奶死！ Grandma dies! Teacher: OK! Kid: [Bus] 爸死！ Dad dies! Teacher:哦，好！ Oh, great! Kid: [Knees] 你死！ You die! Teacher:嗯 Mmm-hmm. Kid: [Was] 我死！ I die! Teacher:好！ Kid: [Does] 都死！ All die! Teacher:都死之后？ After everybody dies? Kid: [One dollar] 完蛋了！ (We’re) doomed! [lit. "The egg is done"; fig. "We're done for/doomed/finished/toast".] Teacher:全答对了！ All answered correctly!
Chinese ways of showing interest, care or concern for someone often take the form of unsolicited advice about things foreigners consider very personal, usually with humourous (if the foreigners are well-adjusted) or tearful (if they’re not) results. Here’s what one of my bald coworkers received in a Chinese Valentine’s Day card from one of our students:
I had an experience of touching your head. It was not slipped as I imagined. but it was nice. At last, I have a suggestion: lose some weight! You’ll more handsome, no the most handsome if you lose your weight!
Have a baby soon.
For more about this quirky (to us) Chinese way of showing interest, care or concern see:
Have we ever seen this woman before? Nope. And did she just come up, start touching our kid’s face and try to make her smile? Of course!
This is routine whenever we take Lilia out for walks. A friendly stranger or two (or ten) will often stop to try and make her smile, and that often involves touching. Younger people like the girl in these photos tend to be gentler than middle-aged and older women, at least in our experience. We have some neighbourhood committee ladies who talk so loud when they’re trying to get a reaction out of Lilia that they make her scared; they pretty much yell in her face, but not intentionally — that’s just how they talk all day long. Those kinds of folks also tend to play a little rougher with the way the pinch legs and touch cheeks.
Obviously we don’t let the general public manhandle our daughter, but since it’s so expected that any friendly person can play with a stranger’s baby, and since “foreign dolls” (洋娃娃) are such an attraction, we try to be as accommodating as we can while still protecting Lilia. As you can see, she likes it sometimes.
I’ve only had to directly physically block someone’s hand once, when a woman who honestly looked like a KTV prostitute tried to stick her finger in Lilia’s mouth on the Beijing subway. People don’t understand when you bat their fingers away, but there’s no way I’m letting random people stick there fingers in our daughter’s mouth, regardless of whether or not they’re dressed like a xiǎojiě (小姐)! Same goes for anyone who seems like they might be too rough. I use as much finesse and tact as I can, of course (we indirectly block people all the time), but obviously we’re willing to cause offense if we have to to protect our daughter. Those kinds of situations are very rare, however, and most people are great, wanting to coo over a baby like people do anywhere… just maybe a little more so.