Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taiwan Culture Shock: The definition of dangerous

The people who have kids will understand this one better.
I have an ongoing dispute with the mother-in-law about the definition of dangerous.
Her take appears to be straightforward: the bodies of young children have an inability to regulate temperature, but are resistant to drinking bleach.
When she is in my house, or looking after the children, she runs two paces behind them continually ready to take the place of their natural temperature gauge. In the summer, she is blasting aircon at them and nagging me every two minutes to take them back from the park because it is too hot. In the winter she has them wearing enough clothes for the arctic. The autumn and spring are the worse times of the year because the weather is changeable and the disputes increase. You arrange to meet the wife and mother-in-law in the park and, when you get there, of course, to combat the mild breeze they are wearing 3 layers of clothing.
“They are too hot,” you say.
“He is right,” would say the mother-in-law. “The sun is strong. Let’s go back to the apartment and turn on the aircon.”
“No. There is nothing wrong with the sun. Take off a couple of layers of clothing.”
I will of course then try and remove two layers and i will get terrible stares from the wife and mother-in-law.
“They will get a cold,” they say in unison.
I will insist, and the battle will then really begin as the mother-in-law follows them continually with that 2nd layer, taking every time the sun pops behind a cloud or the breeze vaguely picks up, to try and force a jumper over their heads.
I indulge this battle of wills for a while, but inevitably give up and go back to the apartment.
Once there, it starts again as she blasts on the aircon and adds layers and i turn off the aircon and remove.
“Wife. Take off the sweater. Feel his forehead.”
“It is cold.”
“So turn off the aircon.”
“Then it is too hot.”
And so on, and so on…
Meanwhile, during all of this it will be:
“Wife. Please ask your mother not to leave huge meat cleaver on the edge of the worktop. Better still, when she walks away to take a phone call, shut the damn kitchen door because she is actually cooking something on the stove.”
The wife will actually look at me, shocked that i could actually think her mother was careless.
So there it is: it seems children are impervious to meat cleavers, household cleaners left hanging around, and hitting windscreens because no seat belt, but if they are not wearing two jumpers they will collapse in an instant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know your pain. That is hard to change old people's concept.
It is like when you just get a cold ,you may be told "go see a doctor."
Arguing with them is not a good way,I think. Maybe you can try to educate your wife and let her to persuade her mother.