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.


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.