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Temperature Obsession

September 5, 2012

One of the things that is interesting and confusing about the people I have met in China is their obsession with “hot” and “cold.”  This came up especially at the pre-school, with both the Chinese teachers and the parents.  Really, if I hear one more temperature theory, or something blamed on the temperature one more time I was gonna go nutso. 

It drove me bonkers that the Chinese teachers spent half the day dressing and undressing the children.  The kids were not considered smart enough to know when they were hot or cold.  They weren’t encouraged to take off their jacket if they got hot.  No, they were actually required to ask if they could, and then had to got pack it in their backpack.  It seemed like too much trouble for them.   I let them do what ever they wanted and got scolded for it constantly.  I’m sorry, but two day old puppies know what to do when they are hot or cold (snuggle in or scoot away), but apparently 5 year Chinese children can’t figure out if they are hot or cold.  Really, they have been so conditioned not to trust themselves about temperature that they don’t know when to add a sweater when they are cold.  When they take their naps they are required to be all covered up – no leg sticking out from the blanket, etc – and then they wake up all sweaty.  Really?

Then there is the water.  Drinking water.  It is very common here not to put ice in your drinking water.  I like that.  And it is common to drink hot water.  Mark has learned to like that.  But the fussing over the temperature of the drinking water can really get on your nerves.  At school we had a water dispenser, you know the ones we call a water cooler, even if it is room temperature.  Well, the one at school certainly didn’t have any cooling properties.  And even though the water was room temperature the children were required to dispense half from the “cold” side and half from the hot side because cold water is bad for them.  Half the time they put too much hot water in and had to wait for it to cool down, but there was no time for it to cool down.  So they either had to drink hot water or get yelled at for being late. 

Apparently food has hot and cold properties regardless of whether it has been cooked or not.  Tomatoes are cold, and therefore good to eat if you have hot ailments, and ginger or other “hot” foods are good for ailments you get from being cold.  It’s so complicated…then you have to add in yin and yang foods.  And you thought the food pyramid was complicated. 

The other teacher at my school got fussed at for having the children sit on the floor in a circle for her class.  She was told the floor was hot (it was room temperature) and that sitting on heat would give everybody constipation.  We were both flabbergasted.  I like to respect the culture and all, but that didn’t even make any sense to us.  Wouldn’t sitting on a cold floor make you…..I mean…and…I…and then my brain exploded.  We both decided at that point that the Chinese were obsessed with temperature.  We also decided we were teaching “International Classes” and that the Chinese teachers could do what they wanted in their classes, and we would teach the international way to expose the children to not believing in hot and cold as ruling the universe.  We turned on the air conditioners, drank iced water and put on a sweater and danced around the water cooler in our traditional heathen way.

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