Theorem on Dressing Children for South China Winter

“Your son must be very strong. He doesn’t even need a sweater!”

Is the round-about way a nursery school teacher pointed out that my son was the only child in the classroom not wearing the wool school sweater (over the compulsory white shirt and bow tie). It was a strong hint that he should wear the v-neck pullover tomorrow.

The temperature in the classroom was roughly 20 degrees Celsius (68 F).

One month ago, the children wore the summer uniform. The summer uniform is a blue short-sleeved shirt and plaid shorts that could double (in size and appearance) as boxer shorts for a grown man.

The air-conditioned summertime temperature in the classroom was roughly 20 degrees Celsius (68 F).

People in southern China (including Hong Kong) have a compulsion to wrap up children warmly whenever there is the smallest hint of a cool breeze.

Six years ago, when my daughter was a toddler in nearby Zhuhai, I received rivers of unsolicited advice from strangers on how many more layers of clothing she required. After dispensing this advice, they’d feel her tiny hands and say, “oh, she’s warm.” Caught-out, more than one commentator opined that she must be warm because we are foreigners and therefore consume too many dairy products.

Taking this folk wisdom to its logical conclusion, I am now able to share a mathematical tool for dressing children during south China’s “winter:”

Given the theorem, tomorrow I will tell my son’s nursery school teacher:

“He is not wearing the v-neck sweater, as he ate a large bowl of Greek yogurt for breakfast.”

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18 responses to “Theorem on Dressing Children for South China Winter

  1. My mother used to say that Caucasians never took care of their children properly, because they didn’t wrap their kids in about 15 layers of clothes at the first hint of “cold” – with the word being very subjective. So glad someone finally addressed it!

    • Today when I picked up my son, all of the other children were still wearing sweaters. Despite placing a sweater in his bag (in case the teachers deemed him cold), he was still only wearing a single shirt. Furthermore, the sleeves had been rolled up by the teachers. They must have realized just how over-heated we Caucasians can become due to our love-affair with dairy.

  2. We have had similar theories thrown at us since arriving in Turkey. Daughter says she cannot breathe with the 5 layers she feels obliged to wear now. Nod and smile Daughter, nod and smile.

    • Ha! Perhaps my theorem has a much wider application than I initially suspected. Nod and smile goes far in life lived abroad; a good lesson for her to learn early!

  3. Me a passer-by stumbling upon here. Well, if I could offer a cue at least in the case of HK, there is a widespread hearsay that it is far more common for Asians than Caucasians to get a cold/ flu because of different dispositions between the two. Disregarding whether this is nonsense or truth, maybe the densely populated environment that gives a higher chance of outbreaks of cold/ flu has a bearing on this practice of heavily cladding children? But it is very true that parents here overprotect their children, and some people do dress up themselves like it was snowing when it is roughly 20 degrees Celsius. LOL.

    • Good point about population density making people more weary of catching illnesses. I’ve never heard the bit of hearsay you shared about Asians and Caucasians having a disproportionate tendencies to catch colds. Strangely fascinating.

  4. Made me laugh. Ironic that the place I tend to get sick most easily is Singapore – the frigid air conditioning gets me every time! I have heard the dairy products comment before, but have also heard that foreigners have a lot of “yang”. That can also be caused by eating meat – especially lamb!

    • Hong Kong will dip down to 14 c next week; suddenly “yang” fostering lamb sounds like just the thing! (And very glad to here that someone else has also heard this dairy-theory!)

  5. Hilarious observation. I think in HK, it’s an obligatory fashion/wardrobe rotation thing since otherwise, no one would get to bust out their “fall/winter collection” clothes–uniforms included! This reminds me of when I saw a woman in Central walking around in a full on fur coat… I think it was a mink! I recall it was around 60 degrees F/15 degrees C… It’s all about fashion!! (And frankly, I think it’s much colder in HK in the summertime when the A/C is full blast indoors.)

    • One does almost need a fur coat to enter a mall (and especially a movie theater) in the summer! The AC is indeed frigid. (A long fur coat in HK: Ha, ha! What a crack up.)

  6. Love your Christmas banner. 🙂

    I have not heard the dairy product one – must not have filtered over to Singapore, or perhaps I haven’t reacted in a way as to invite it? I probably wouldn’t have taken that as a “strong hint”, merely an “odd thing to say”.

    (On a semi-related note, A has taken to excusing himself from eating durian by explaining that it’s “too heaty”. He gets understanding nods rather than incredulous stares this way. Maybe they are thinking of all the heaty dairy he no doubt consumes.)

    • Singapore might just be too hot all the time for it to come up. To be honest, in Hong Kong I get very little unsolicited advice, but in mainland China! Boy, there are a lot of “helpful aunties” about!

      Last week I picked up my son from school and discovered they’d added an undershirt to his layers. He was pink from playing indoors in so many layers!

  7. I once got angry at my then-boyfriend (Japanese) for turning the heating on every time he came to my flat. I was an exchange student, and the cost of heating up the room was too much for me to afford. But that didn’t mean that it was cold – with a gas heater it was quite pleasant. However, the boyfriend would refuse to take his coat off when he was there. One day I told him that it can be considered rude to wear a coat in someone else’s home and he replied that I just didn’t feel the cold like he did because I’m western and so have a lot more fat on me!!!!!

  8. Pingback: Chrismtas Letters | Sherbet and Sparkles·

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