punk phd / feminism / motherhood

Friday, October 07, 2016

Damn those babyccino-swilling hordes! - In defence of children (and parents?)

A few days ago I was having a quick browse in a women's clothes shop when I heard a child having a full blown meltdown. Looking across the store I could see a woman with a boy, perhaps four years old or so, in a stroller and by the looks of things he wasn't too chuffed with the new season selections. Usually in situations like this I'll make a comment out loud to my little one to remind that that was her a few days/hours/minutes/who are we kidding even seconds ago (in fact, on this occasion the only reason she'd allowed me to step foot in this store was due to a bag of mini rice cakes being produced). I think I do so in order to a) make light of what for me at the time probably caused me to stress a bit and b) perhaps let the other mum overhear so on the off chance they too were stressing on the inside it might make them feel a bit better. An older woman and man walked by whilst said boy was still doing his best exorcist impression and the woman took it upon herself to make just loud enough comments about how the mum "didn't seem too bothered". She continued this train of thought out loud even once they'd left the store and walking behind me I could hear her repeating this over and over to the man as if the mum's no fucks given approach was wrong. Maybe the mum was meant to have exited the shop the minute her kid starting throwing a wobbly? Heck, she maybe should of just pre-empted the many tantrums which would ensue on a trip to town and just stayed at home. Because, in all honesty, what are your options when your kid is being (quite frankly) a little shit? Then today it was my turn for a public showdown. I went to grab some lunch for myself and the little 'un (not to mention some much needed coffee...for me) and decided to 'eat in'. Probably the minute I uttered those words Jekyll in her pram was brewing for her Hyde delivery. Cue tantrum getting into the highchair. Tantrum being in the highchair. Tantrum being on my lap. Tantrum being back in her pram. Tantrum because she wanted food. Tantrum because she then didn't want food (the food got launched). Tantrum because she wanted the bit of food on the floor. Tantrum because she wanted some juice. You get the idea. And what could I do? Not much apart from shoving the food into my face as fast as humanly possible and downing my coffee to make a hasty exit as I could feel the glares from behind laptops and my body temperature had rose to the point of feeling the need for fresh air. And then, home this evening, I read this by Julie Bindel. Yes Julie, children can be annoying. That can be the case even for those of us who have children ourselves but lets not assume parents generally 'let' their children act like this - sometimes, no matter what you do, that kid is gonna do a hissy and maybe you just grin and bear it cause you've got shit to do! And the assumption of areas or such which are 'child-free' tends to be that all children are unbearably loud and misbehaved. Well, many members of the public are also unbearably loud and misbehaved - can I get a separate train coach from them also? Children are children after all. This aside, I think the most valuable comment someone made on this piece was as follows:

I'm not sure people understand that what you're basically saying is "no mothers of young children" in public spaces. Julie, who is supposed to be a feminist, fails to realise is that there are many, many spaces we already can't access. Important, adult spaces like political meetings or reading groups because of a lack of childcare/creche/child friendliness. If you make society less child friendly you make it less woman friendly as a result - Laura Beattie.

Definitely food for thought.

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