The only way one of my teenage ESL students from Beijing could reconcile the fact that Canadian mothers apparently routinely engage in self-destructive life-threatening behaviour after giving birth is that Chinese and Westerners must have different biological constitutions. It was funny (and not entirely untrue). I was tutoring her this morning in between trips to see Lilia in the NICU, and she was alternately gushing with very earnest advice about what Jessica must eat as a brand new mother and appalled with the things we let Jessica do.
I was telling her how the day after the surgery Jessica walked to the NICU to see Lilia in the incubator (and rode back in the wheelchair) — my student couldn’t believe I’d let Jessica out of bed. Then she couldn’t believe that after getting discharged from the hospital we actually let/make Jessica ride in the car to the hospital at least twice a day to see the baby (there are bumps in the road!). Basically Jessica shouldn’t leave the house — actually, better that she just stay in bed, for a month.
When Jessica was still pregnant one mother of a teenager from Sichuan was talking to me about the traditional Chinese custom of being house-bound and not showering for a month after giving birth. “Oh, that’s silly. I had a shower after only two weeks!”
Of course we’d heard about the popular traditional Chinese beliefs surrounding pregnancy and birth. No doubt our various cultures contain plenty of mutually jaw-dropping popular advice in this area. But this kind of stuff sounds even funnier in Canada for some reason. :) And no matter how particular advice sounds to us, it’s great the way our Chinese friends show their care and warmth by showering us with concern and advice.
(P.S. – Commenting *should* be fixed now, so you can leave comments again. Stupid security plugin changed my settings without telling me!)