Read the post, then call Target and let them know you support a mother’s right to breastfeed her child in public. I, for one, will not be spending any of my hard-earned money at Target until I see this satisfactorily resolved. I’m horrified that they bullied this mother in the name of being “family friendly” — what could possibly be more family friendly than feeding her baby??
Yesterday, mentioned one of the most annoying things about being car-free — having random strangers come up to you and criticize your parenting. Lest you think it’s all annoyances, I thought I’d balance that post with one today about some of the joys of interacting with random strangers on a daily basis.
We ride the bus a lot. We know there are lots of people who would prefer we not take up any more space than possible, and we try our best to be compact, but sometimes, my back is bothering me and I can’t wear Jesse in a carrier, or we’re going somewhere all day (or overnight) and need more stuff than we can easily carry while also carrying him, so we use a stroller. I feel lucky that only a couple of people have given us a hard time about this (one woman yelled at me as I was getting on a (not at all crowded) bus that “those things” are illegal, which is blatantly not true).
Usually, the opposite happens. People smile, make funny faces, and generally engage with a baby in a way they wouldn’t be caught dead doing with an adult. Especially in Boston, the general code of conduct is “pretend nobody else is there and you’re in your own little world.” I don’t say this to be disparaging — I grew up here, and it’s what I’m used to and I totally admit to getting kind of weirded out when random strangers seem to really want to talk to you. For years, I’ve known that there are a few exceptions to this rule:
1) The weather is awful in some way and you’ve been waiting outside for a while
2) The bus/train is having major problems
3) You want to know if you just missed a bus or train
Those are pretty much the only things that people won’t look at you oddly for starting a conversation about — hey, everyone loves to kvetch about the T and the weather, right? Turns out, there is a fourth topic on that list: babies. I’ve had so many people start gushing about their own kids and how fast these early years go by, or what their grandkids are up to, or comparing notes on strollers, carriers, or other baby gear. It’s amazing, and you meet some really nice people. Some people speak just enough English to say “cute baby” but then they spend the rest of the bus ride playing peek-a-boo. It’s an amazing way to really restore your faith in humanity, ride the bus with a baby.
With November comes chillier weather around here, and with chillier weather comes comments from strangers on the bus about how Jesse is bundled up (or, more often, lack thereof). This is my least favorite part of being a car-free family: all of my parenting choices are out there for people to comment on, always.
Never mind that it was in the upper 50s (warmer than our house is sometimes in the winter!), Jesse was in a mei tai on his dad’s back, and inside a Kinder Coat.
Never mind that we were just walking from a friend’s house to the grocery store (about 7-8 minute walk) and then we had about two minutes outside the store before the bus came.
Never mind that Jesse *hates* having things on his head these days, and I want to pick my battles and only force the issue when I think it’s actually dangerous for him.
Never mind that he was laughing and happy, and clearly not distressed by his lack of hat.
Even if all these things were not the case, where do people get the idea that they can go up to a stranger, poke them repeatedly (yeah, I swear I couldn’t make this stuff up) and tell them their kid needs a hat. The folks over at Car-Free with Kids have a great post on how being car-free means being more visible. Most of the time, this isn’t actually a bad thing in my book (stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about the good parts!) but on Saturday, all I wanted was to get home with my husband, son, and groceries without being accosted by a well-meaning-but-clueless stranger (who then got annoyed at me when I thanked her for her concern and said the baby was fine).