6 Steps to Hang with the Nai Nais (and survive the scolding)

The longer I live in China, the more I think the “Things That Make the World Go ‘Round” list should look something like this:

  1. Love
  2. Money
  3. Power
  4. Sex
  5. Nai Nai Shame

Being a stay at home mom and a foreign one to boot in a culture where grandparents and nannies do most of the child-rearing can make a lone laowai mama feel like a bit of an awkward unicorn on the playground. Combine that dynamic with the fact that in China, only members of the older generation know anything about anything and suddenly, that unicorn is not only awkward but also an easy target for criticism. Even the most zen and culturally sensitive of hippie souls can easily find herself ready to revoke her pacifist pledge as she is cornered day after day by gangs of grannies and every single one of her  some of her parenting decisions are brought to the social courtroom for judgment.

After a recent, personal big 不好意思 (bù hǎoyìsi) moment of totally loosing my cool on a concerned passerby who stopped her ebike to inform me my baby’s skin was showing, I decided it might be time for some stress management solutions.  Or at least ways to join ‘em if I can’t beat ‘em.

So if you are a mom, and you too find yourself waking in the middle of the night from granny stress dreams, here are some helpful hints for hanging with the nai nais in harmony.

1 Dress your son in pink and sparkles.

That way when he inevitably gets called little sister, it won’t feel offensive, more like, “Yeah, that makes sense! He IS dressed like a girl and not in fact wearing a bob the builder t-shirt and fireman boots and running with testosterone-powered inertia into that mud hole over there.”

(Note that if you bejewel your daughter in a matching get-up, however, she will definitely be mistaken for a boy.)

2 “还行” (Hái xíng)

Teach your child that this phrase means, “You’re right!” So for every compliment you politely curtail, he’ll receive an ego boost.

Example:

Nai Nai: Your daughter is so beautiful!

You: 还行 (hái xíng – She’s ok looking.)

Daughter: I knew it! I AM stunning!

This way you don’t have to choose between being rude or crushing your child’s hopes of any kind of self esteem.

3 Just Sock ‘Em

If you hear your inner voice whispering, “Let his feet be bare and free!” Tune it out. 40 degrees Celcius outside? Doesn’t matter. Your child can survive a little heat rash, but can you survive the 批评 (pīpíng)? No sister, just sock that child.

4 Concoct elaborate scientific explanations for why ‘x,y,z’ is not life threatening

Example: You are letting your child play in the dirt! And it just RAINED!

Explanation: In my country, we rub our children down with a mineral solution from birth that provides a protective barrier from all harmful toxins they may encounter…etc. etc. Grab a Chinese medical dictionary, spice up your vocab, and loose them in the technicals before they have time to see through your BS.

(Note: this explanation also works for “Why is he out in this big wind!?” “Where are his shoes!?” and “Why are you letting him sit on the ground!?”

5 Truth? They can’t handle the truth

Fact: sometimes in life, lying is necessary. Accept it. Example: “Honey, do I look slim in this crop top?” “Tiny!”

Similarly: “Your baby is so small! How old is she?”

Repeat after me: “She’s 3 months! She’s 3 months! She’s 3 months!” Then run away before the inquisitor has time for a closer look.

6 Embrace the Perks:

Enjoy the freedom to indulge your children, judgment free! Let’s be honest. That’s nice.

Though stateside (or wherever else you hail from) you may feel peer-pressured into ignoring your child’s screams with steel-hearted determination, here you can rest assured that ne’er a nai nai will roll her eyes as you succumb to the toddler tantrum and buy that little crier the candy he begs for in Jenny Lou’s.

 

Don’t let nai nai shame get you down. Walk tall as you schlep your children hither and thither all by yourself! Welcome the praise you receive as you march forward in your caretaker to child ratio of less than three to one. You are a badass. You are 真厉害 (zhēn lìhài). Embrace it. Own it. Milk it for all its worth.

10 winners will get ¥2,300 in prizes on December 20. Join the WeChat group to enter in! Chances are 1 in 12 at the moment; better odds than a mom going a day without nai nai shame.

Join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR code


Jess Qualls lives with her husband and two small kiddos in Beijing. She especially enjoys coffee, toddler conversations, and Dr. Seuss.


 

Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

McDonald’s to Open Playgrounds in China

Just remember, this part of our site is satire or fake news. 

PR Representatives of the ever-golden arches held an event in Shanghai, down the road from their China headquarters at Innov Tower.

McDonald’s rarely uses PR events to create a buzz for their chain, so expectations among attendees was as high as the oil temperature used to fry their famous fare.

They did not disappoint.

“In all future restaurants in China, we are committed to opening kid-friendly and eco-aware playgrounds,” Ron Johnson, head of marketing and PR said.    

“We’ve decided to make this decision in order to bring more family friendly playing options to the country. Playgrounds are few and hard to access in most cities, often limited to school grounds or malls where cost of admittance is astronomical.”

“The playgrounds and the stores will also now be opened with air purifiers equipped in the heating and cooling systems.”

“Along with a commitment to open playgrounds and better the indoor air, we will also be piloting new fresh menus with salads, yogurt, and wraps,” Johnson continued.

The event also held a buffet of the fresh menu, though some complained they were still so hungry after eating set meals, they’d need to get a second lunch.

A one-time playground was installed at the event grounds, but soon needed to be shut down when attending children became too rambunctious.

“Along with installing safety nets and testing playgrounds to assess injury probability, we will be requiring that waivers be signed by all parents before allowing their children to play,” Johnson added suddenly when the event playground was unexpectedly shut down early.

The decisions received favorable public responses

“I would never have gone to McDonald’s with my kids because it’s so bad for health, but if it’s opening a fresh menu and playgrounds, I’m excited to go there!” Rita Jennings said, mom of two.

“I’ve always wondered why there were no playgrounds at fast food restaurants here unlike in the US, so I’m glad to hear that they’re making a change to be more family friendly,” Zhang Shezi remarked.

The first restaurant with a playground will open in March.

10 winners will get ¥2,300 in prizes on December 20. Join the WeChat group to enter in! Chances are 1 in 12 at the moment; better odds than Trump having won the 2016 elections.

Join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by adding me (ID: vanessajencks).


Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Photo: MD111 (Flickr)

How to Trick Your Child into Wearing a Mask

Did you know that only 25% of days in Beijing are under 100 AQI?

Did you know that stay-at-home-moms, full-time-ayis, and weekend-warrior-parents can get a terrible disease called Hatieus Peking when they’re forced to stay inside for hours-in and hours-out with a rock-hard stubborn child who refuses to put on a mask?

Hatieus Peking causes parents to do rash things like cry softly in a closet, quit jobs, and give away all that they have. Severe cases cause hallucinations; parents cite seeing a mirage of a city with clean air that you drink like water. Some hallucinations are horrifying, and instead parents are locked up in a chamber where they can’t breath.

Psychologists believe it has to do with the steady increase of carbon dioxide inside filtered rooms, lack of proper amounts of sunshine and wide open spaces, and lack of interaction with grown adults who can hold full conversations.

Those affected can be cured, but treatment requires tricking children into wearing masks so that the cloistered caretakers can run around like wild horses in grey Beijing, taking gasps of air through gas masks.

Note, trickery depends on the age.

Children 8 years and older are easily tricked into wearing masks with threats of being grounded or removing screen time. They’re an easy lot to coerce.

Children between 4 years old and 8 years old can be shown pictures and videos of what polluted and damaged lungs look like on the inside and explain that they will die if they do not put on the mask. Do they really want their lungs to look like that?

Yes they might cry, but remember that the caretaker’s health is at risk here, and ultimately that affects the child’s well being in the long term.

Children under 4 years of age require the most nimble of handling. Make the child cry and you might as well just call it a night. After the tears come out in force like willow pollen in the spring, no form of trickery or bribery will ever get the child to put on the blasted mask.

Instead, lace the mask with the smell of their favorite foods. Or you could take inspiration from man’s hipster accessory, the beard, and just put little chunks of chocolate inside the mask. It’s like a snack reservoir, right?

What child wouldn’t want to put it on with chocolate inside?

If you’re worried about choking, get some Hershey’s syrup and smear it inside. Depending on the make of the mask, it might not actually affect breathability.

If chocolate doesn’t work, put on the child’s favorite TV show or movie or song. Put the mask on his face and play the show. When he takes it off, turn off the show.

It’s kind of like Pavlov’s dog and bell experiment except much more desperate. 

Once the child keeps on the mask after fifty-eight or so tries, then just make him keep wearing it in the house until wearing a mask is second nature.

One last option would be to cry. Yes, cry. The child will take such sympathy on seeing a grown adult cry, he or she will try to make it better. If you’ve instilled kindness in the child already, of course. Otherwise, treatments beyond what’s been suggested here is totally experimental, and you should proceed with caution.

Look, you would stoop to these lows if you had Hatieus Peking, too.

Crazy parents need to support crazy parents before things get crazy. 

By the way, did you know you can win a new generation of idMASK of any size that you want to at least pretend your stubborn child might actually where it one day? All you have to do is join the China Moms Blog WeChat Group. Add me on WeChat to try your luck (WeChat ID: vanessajencks). If Trump beat the odds, why can’t you?

Your current chances of winning are 1 in 10! Those are good odds to win one of the prizes, totaling ¥2,300 in all!

No sharing required. Really.

Seriously the simplest giveaway ever.

Join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by adding me (ID: vanessajencks).


Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Photos: SmartAir Filters, idMASK

“No Pictures Please” and 10 Other T-shirt Slogans Needed in China

I love living in China!

But then, sometimes I’m just tired of needing to teach people not to point and stare or take pictures of my kids.

I’d rather just wear a t-shirt with a slogan.

1. “Congratulations! You can tell the difference between 1 foreigner and 1 billion Chinese people!”

Perfect for the people who shout or point and say, “Waiguoren!”

2. “Scammers beware! I’m wearing a body camera.”

We wish this was just practical for expats, but truth be told, we know some local friends who’d like this shirt too.

3. “Please speak slowly.”

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you ask, speakers always speed up. Next time I got to a parent-teacher meeting, I’ll wear this.

4. “Funny! Your English language shirt makes no sense!”

This is a public service. They really need to know why English-speakers point and laugh.

5. “I am not a zoo animal. Don’t offer me food or take my picture.”

This should be available in all shapes and sizes.

6. “¥1,000 per picture. I’m starting my overseas college fund.”

And if you can’t beat ’em, might as well profit from ’em.

7. “I’m not your child. My mother doesn’t need your advice.” 

Enough said.

8. “I walk barefoot inside.” 

Maybe this is just a “me” thing, but I would like to raise awareness about the  reckless and carefree ways to enjoy the cleanliness of one’s floors.

9. “Proud African.”

Every single white African I’ve met has to explain a dozen times a day that they are indeed from Africa. I kind of just want to wear this shirt so I can show solidarity and break stereotypes of race and locality.

10. “My chopstick skills are better than yours.”

Time for the International Battle of the Sticks! Contenders will come from all over the world to prove their culinary agility.

I suppose it’s time to start a China Moms Fashion line.

I’ll be taking pre-orders in the comments below. 

You don’t have to be a mom to join our WeChat group, but you do have to have a sense of humor.

Join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR  code.

Good until December 9th

Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Photos: Christopher (Flickr), Tauno Tohk (Flickr)

How Does the World Live Without WeChat?

Admit it. 

Just because WeChat takes all of our information and uses it to their discretion, allowing government censors to search through messages, whether voice or picture or text, you don’t care one bit.

Because you’re still on WeChat.

You’re still sending those stickers and joining that group and following that account.

You can’t live without WeChat, can you?

At least not in China.

How would you pay for stuff?

And when you go back to the US or UK, as you stop by the ATM or pull out your debit card, you’re secretly thinking in your head,

“How cute. How nostalgic. How primitive.”

You snicker when you think of all the homesick expats who claim,

“China isn’t innovative.”

Looks like the US isn’t much better.

And what would you do without your sticker collection?

You saw that Facebook has a sticker option now and you thought,

“I know where they stole that idea from. Ha.

You’ve tried WhatsApp, and you thought…

What’s the big deal?”

It’s got nothing on WeChat’s contacts organization or moments or favorites collection.

You’re tired of trying all of the other mobile apps.

You begrudgingly get on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or email or Skype or Apple iPay or text message or Google Hangout because the rest of the world picks and chooses the medium and platform that’s best for their communication and you’ve just got to freakin’ deal with the thousands of fumbling apps.

But with WeChat, it’s all there.

Want to flaunt what yo’ momma gave you IG style? Flaunt away.

Want to send a text message? Ok.

Want to send a voice message? Sure.

Want to voice call on a cheaper rate? You got it.

Want to network in endless chats? Welcome to my life.

Need a video chat? Brush your hair.

Need to have a video conference call? No… stop.. don’t…

Not another work meeting!

So next time you’ve got someone going on about privacy and information and censorship and all that jazz deciding to completely boycott Facebook… just remember what you keep checking on your phone every 30 seconds.

And we agree with you.

How DOES the rest of the world live without the simplicity and awesomeness of WeChat?

You don’t have to be a mom to join our WeChat group, but you do have to have a sense of humor. Otherwise we’ll be scared if you’re actually a new generation of AI.

Join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR  code.

Good until December 9th

Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Photos: Gifly.com, Flickr

Scientists Discover New Reason for China’s Pollution: Dragons

Just remember, this section of our site is satire.

For nearly a decade the country has been mulling over the causes for the country’s pollution, blaming outdoor cooking, cars, and residential coal burning.

The growing urban middle class has frequently pointed to manufacturing and industrial plants, but those representing the industry insist they run environmentally friendly operations.

So in the search for the cause for pollution, scientists have examined the smog again and again, but one researching team made a breakthrough.

The team is made up of first class environmental scientists from Tsinghua University and with support staff from abroad, including the UK, New Zealand, and Finland.

They were studying the smog in the mountain range to the north of Beijing when they noticed a particularly dense cut of smog coming from one area in the hills.

“We didn’t see a village or hotel on the map, so we approached cautiously, concerned it could be a wildfire,” said Richard Dunbar, UK, the team’s technical equipment mechanic.

“But when we arrived we were shocked to see a cave and a thick cloud of sulfur seeping out of it. We didn’t know what to think when we saw curiously large dung and ginormous broken egg shells lying about the entrance. So we hid out and waited to find out what might be there.”

“We heard strange sounds about an hour after arriving, and we were quite frightened to be honest. We were only here trying to figure out the cause for China’s pollution, not to be some sort of freak explorers on the search for the next Lock Ness monster.”

When night fell, Dunbar and the team watched as a large dragon and its hatchlings climbed out of the cave and took to flight in the night sky.

“He’s not a huge beast, so I wonder if that’s why he wasn’t picked up on radars. But that the village people hadn’t seen him before, I’m just dumfounded.”

Apparently the dragon and its young are herbivores, and so did not disturb any of the neighboring villages or farms.

Certainly though, the dragons’ fumes, which Dunbar and his team assume they produce more of in the winter due to their bodies’ natural heating processes, has killed millions of Chinese with its dangerous particles and mixture.

The public is reeling about what to do with such a creature, as it poses a threat to humans, but could make an amazing tourist attraction. There are still questions of if other dragons besides this small flock are polluting China’s skies, and how these beasts can be discovered.

Stay tuned for the latest developments. 

For more trash-bin worthy satire, humor, and fake news from China Moms Blog, join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR  code.

Photo: Charlotte Marillet (Flickr

Diapers Outlawed in Favor of Split Pants

Just remember, this section of our site is satire

In the most recent legislation passed to prevent the imperialism of the Untied States from seeping into every corner of Chinese life, mothers everywhere are shocked to learn that diapers have been outlawed in the Middle Kingdom.

Diapers have been decided to be too dangerous of an idea that can be blamed for the youths of Chinese being too exposed to Western ideology.

Wang Zeren, 89, Xianjang, praised the party for their determination to extinguish all ideology. “When I was young, we didn’t use diapers, and my wife didn’t use diapers for our children either. This makes us strong as a nation. And wearing diapers makes babies weak to Western influences enticing us all.”

“In fact, split pants are a part of our culture, and we need to uphold it with thanks!” Wang clapped.

Others praise the move because of its scientific benefits.

Beijing’s leading pediatrician at Tongren Hospital, Doctor Xin Liru explained, “It’s not just about keeping out invading cultural ideas, but the diaper genuinely affects skin health, lengthens the amount of time before a child is potty trained, and can even restrict the growth of certain anatomical parts.”

Though many are happy with the idea, mothers and grandparents are particularly irritated with the accompanying memorandum to Tier 1 and 2 cities.

“As the population has grown and clean streets and public areas have become expected in urban cultural life of China, children found peeing or defecating on sidewalks, streets, and in grates will be fined RMB 3,000. Repeat offenders will face an increased fine based on number of offenses.”

Mother netizens all over WeChat fumed.

“This type of law is incredibly sexist! Who is going to be doing the clean up?” Wx1857381 responded.

“Where is my own naiba? I’m moving to Shanghai! I heard the husbands are better there!” Sexycats125 joked.

“How are they going to enforce this? Check every bum that walks around? Time to open a black market!” Neoneo324 asked.

Expats everywhere have decided to leave the country.

“I just can’t take this. I can live without Facebook, Netflix, and Hulu, but outlawing diapers is too much. Who’s going to do the poop catching?” American dad Grayson Bell, 45, father of five, told us.

Stores have been told to take diapers off the shelves by December 30, though there has already been a rush of lines at the stores to buy all available fluffy diapers in sight.

 

What do you absolutely need to live in China? Comment below! 

For more from China Moms Blog, join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR  code.

Photos: Harald Groven (Flickr), Steven Depolo (Flickr)

China Mom Confession: I HATE Automatic Translators

Thanks to one of my readers and friends, Jackie Park, for the inspiration for this post!

My son’s teacher and I have a lot in common.

We’re both impatient with human translation, and we both can understand what each other is saying with facial expressions, hand gestures, and my basic understanding of Chinese.

We’re also both fiery and headstrong.

Our conversations look like this:

She explains something to me very, very fast.

I ask her to slow down when she speaks.

She slows down for a second, gets excited, and then returns to her normal speaking speed.

I look at our translator and ask for help.

Repeat.

Yet, I would take this face to face talk any day over what happens when we get in a WeChat conversation with each other, relying on the automatic translation instead.

“Your son shit in his pants. No more pants here.”

Crap! Time to go back home, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the word choice she intended.

Teacher: “He has vomit on everyone.”

Me: “Do I need to come pick him up?”

Teacher: “Why?”

Apparently he was just spitting on everyone.  No biggie.

There was also that one time that she thought I scheduled a meeting when in fact I didn’t. Her screenshots of the Chinese translation were so off but hey, at least she didn’t wait too long.

Oh, and my personal favorite time is when she told me he bit a friend. She asked me to talk to the other child’s parents and apologize.

He got in trouble when he got home because biting is not OK.

I knew the other child’s parents and when I saw his mom, I apologized.

“You are too strict on your child! It was just an accident!” She shook her head.

I was mortified.

Of course I apologized to my son but this was absolutely terrible!

Why on earth had the teacher asked me to apologize for this if it wasn’t on purpose? Apparently another parent had kept a grudge against the her and me because neither my husband nor myself reached out to apologize for an incident that happened a year prior.

Seriously?

And that’s why I hate automatic translation.

Time for me to go study Chinese…

 

What’s the funniest translation blooper you’ve seen? Comment below! Or share screenshots in the WeChat group. 

 

For more from China Moms Blog, join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR  code.


Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

No-Mafan Guide to Losing Weight and Keeping It Off during the Holidays

The winter is hard enough because we all want to stay inside to eat and sleep like a hibernating bear.

Well, welcome to China, where Halloween and its candy is catching on, Thanksgiving is still celebrated among expats, Christmas bazaars and parties force themselves into our schedules, and Chinese New Year brings feasting too.

We’re all lucky if we don’t gain 30kg before birds and flowers start making their appearances again. Forget getting into a bikini for a Thailand trip, we just don’t want to roll around like Violet from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

No worries, though, this is the best and easiest no-mafan way to not gain or even lose weight through the winter.  Forget counting calories, it’s time for survival!

1. Claim you’ve been diagnosed with Sugar Intolerance
After this is made clear, who would feel right about poisoning you with sugar?!

2. Say your Chinese Medicine Doctor has given you a special diet
Doesn’t this work for every other Zhou who doesn’t want to eat something during Chinese New Year?

3. Put up warning signs for careless colleagues 
Write “Do Not Feed Wild Animals: People Who Offer Christmas Cookies Also Lose Hands” then hang on your door, at your desk, and on your forehead too.

You did warn them….

4. Uninstall Didi from your phone
Love for Didi can only go so far. And it’s not THAT far to walk 20km to your work every morning. Just wake up early.

5. Go shopping in Chinese sizes
Ah, yes. If this doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

6. Make a DIY Muffin Top reminder at feasts
Put on your tightest jeans, grab a belt, and squeeze tight. Enjoy your modern corset!

7.  Use specially designed lipsticks at Christmas Bazaars
Works every time! No one needs to talk to you when shopping anyway. Just flash cash.

I can’t take credit for this joke – it’s originally a meme passed on to me from Beijing’s Clothing Auction Network founder, Rebecca Archer.

8. Expose yourself to the season’s germs
Volunteer at a Kindergarten until infected. This will even jumpstart your weight loss!

9. Migrate like a panda
Ask for the entire winter off. Just point to pandas and say you’re living like the locals.

(This isn’t serious medical advice, just in case you haven’t noticed.)

 

What are your sneaky ways for keeping off the weight? Comment below!

If you got a laugh, join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR  code.


Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and Flickr