Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stranger Danger

As a nursing in public, (NIP - har, har), slinging, cloth diapering mother of an uncircumcised son (gasp!) I've had my share of disapproving looks from people who think I should put a blanket over my son's head while I shamefully breastfeed him in the nearest public bathroom after I change his strange diaper. But until yesterday, no one had ever called into question my parenting choices. Well, with the exception of my mother and sister having a mini-intervention regarding our strict no-cry sleep policy, which is a story for another time, if ever.

I was maneuvering Eliot in a shopping cart around a very bonkers grocery store yesterday afternoon, the day before Easter. We ended up in a cart jam, when an older woman, a stranger, says to me, "Honey, should he be playing with that?" I looked at Eliot, who was playing with a pen that I had given to him after a bout of the screams. A pen that I had determined to have a super difficult lid to remove. A pen that he was happily and QUIETLY slobbering all over.

So, I look at her and say, without missing a beat, "I'm his mother, so he can play with whatever I say he can play with." I felt like this was a sufficient dismissal. And as we were wheeling away, she called, "But couldn't the lid fall off?" to which I replied something like, "Thanks! Got it covered!" but which I would I have really liked to reply, "Hey lady, who asked you? Fuck off!"

Excuse my use of the f-bomb, but I was super pissed.

Admittedly, a roller ball pen is maybe not the safest toy for a thirteen month old. But how many of us have given in and let our child have a relatively safe-ish object in return for a moment of peace while you attempt to finish a task? It wasn't the ginsu knife or throwing stars I usually give him. Just a pen. Maybe not my finest parenting choice. And we all see other parents doing things that we think are not the way we would choose to do them. Unless a child is in imminent and real danger, I would not intervene in someone's parenting. I don't walk up to a woman feeding her baby a bottle and say, "Honey, you should really use your breasts for that", or to the mother carrying her baby around in a pumpkin seat, "Honey, here's my friend JJ's email address, get yourself a sling, babywearing is the way to go." I wouldn't even say anything to a mother feeding her child artery clogging, life-shortening fast food. Even though I kind of think that could be child abuse if done in excess.

Because you know why? Because it's none of my business.

3 comments:

emily said...

hehehe! Yes, I've had strangers say all kinds of shit to me. I love the walk bys: "Cover his head, it's cold" as they walk past me on the street, to which I reply, "yeah? how 'bout you cover your face, cause it's ugly." (I wish.) Instead I just roundhouse kick them in the neck.

Sylvia's Mom (my entire identity) said...

Thanks for the plug. Maybe the pen could be used to write a note on Eliot's head that says "please tell mama what you think. she really,really cares."

Old Steve said...

Jeez, I remember when you were sweet natured.