Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dear grumpy old male customer at Best Buy

I don't know what it was about me that made you feel entitled to interfere in my interaction with my four year old child while he was trying to figure out a game on an iPad. Perhaps it was simply because I'm female and you feel entitled to criticize anything any female does. Perhaps it was my attire (jean shorts, a Toy Story t-shirt, and sandals) that had you make assumptions about my social class, education level, church-going habits (we had attended a service on bullying at our church just a few hours before this, ironically), or marital status (tho the simple gold band around my left ring finger should have been a giveaway there). Perhaps it was my disability since I had positioned my mobility scooter in such a way as to shielding my child who was seated on the floor from becoming a tripping hazard - maybe you even assumed he wasn't mine since I am not able-bodied.

Whatever your "logic" was for stepping in to criticize my child and me for his sitting on the floor playing a game on the iPad, it was flawed. The fact that you were clearly a bully used to getting your way when you go to boss someone around was revealed in your refusal to back off and mind your own business after my REPEATED requests that you do so. That you then felt the desire to call in other authority figures - first suggesting the manager of the store, then even the POLICE, over a simple matter of a four year old playing with a floor model iPad in a place of public accommodation, revealed you to be not just an asshat, but a proud wearer of a scrotal necktie. The store staff was NOT thrilled with having to intervene and TELL you to mind your own business and look at a (GASP) different iPad, seeing as there were THREE on display. Your little stalker behavior of coming across the parking lot as we were loading my scooter and children into the minivan (yes, I saw you coming, and yes, the cell phone in my hand had 911 dialed with my thumb under the "call" button) was a total dumbass move and you're lucky I had the restraint not to throw the van into reverse and run your ass over, since it had taken quite a bit of restraint earlier in the store to keep from running your feet over with my scooter or braining you with my cane (though it seems like the tissue in that cranium might have been soft enough to not be much effected by the level of blow my limited arm strength is capable of delivering, so it wouldn't have really been worth the paperwork involved).

You should also count yourself lucky that I didn't video your ass and post you on YouTube, you twit. I refrained from even taking a picture of you to post here on my blog & Facebook feed.

Instead, you sarcastically wished us a nice day and I wished you a good life. Elsewhere. Preferably measured in air miles. And hopefully you'll think twice (or, heck, maybe even think FIRST) before harassing anyone who matches any of my demographic characteristics again. Because if you keep it up, sir, SOMEONE is gonna open a can of whoopass on you that your old brittle bones won't be liking. And of you invade someone's space the way you did mine, they well might be able to justify doing such to a jury, depending on who witnesses it.

Just sayin'.


The DragonMama

Thursday, August 04, 2011

On my 7th World Breastfeeding Week as a lactivist

I type this with my 14mo asleep across my lap, nuzzled up to my breast while his father snuggles the older two into unconsciousness. I'm exhausted but felt the need to post something, this may be rambling nonsense so preemptive apologies if it gets too tangenty.

It's been a wild seven years since my first, first week of August(aka World Breastfeeding Week) as a breastfeeding mother in 2004. Back then, my state didn't recognize the legal right of my baby to eat wherever he was when he happened to be hungry and I could have been asked to leave a store for feeding him. Now, I still might get hassled for it but at least there's a law in place (thanks in very small part to Liam and I going down to our state capital to testify for the legislation). Teeth to it would be nice sometimes.

We just got back from an exhausting trip to NYC (whose state law does, incidentally, have "teeth" - there's at least a stated fine for harassing people for breastfeeding) where we stayed with my bro-in-law, visited with my mom-in-law's friends (NOT my idea of a great time after driving 500 miles in 11 hours with 3 young children, to have to then drive MORE to sit around a table for more than an hour while people socialized in a language I can't understand... but... whatever. I got to see the Harry Potter exhibition with my kids before it leaves the continent so I can't complain TOO much, right?). The baby H.A.T.E.S. his carseat, and is only somewhat mullified by playing music (when I want to be listening to audiobooks, of course). I had just got a new cell phone (my first Android, because my 2.5yr old Blackberry was dying), and had a new stereo installed in the van so I could do hands-free calling, and wound up streaming music from my phone through the stereo via bluetooth since it was easier to switch back to the audiobook if Little Bear allowed me to. Luckily my kids don't insist on listening to "kids music" (Liam's favorite song is by Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, Del's current favorite song is by Alanis Morrissette, and Col tends to want Take to the Sky by Tori Amos, which is a b-side from Little Earthquakes and my "theme song"). I wasn't even sure what was ON my cell phone's memory card, I'd just copied everything over from the Blackberry since I used some of them as ringtones. Turned out to have some stuff that made me sentimental, and brought out a little of the militant lactivist/DragonMama in me, possibly to the chagrin of some of the other people in the restaurants we dined in bwahahahaha (no you obnoxious Jersey Shore types, I'm NOT interested in your parenting advice as your inappropriately dressed teens act like total cretins in public, thankyouverymuch).

The music pulls me back to my younger, more-steamroller-than-diplomat days (err... yes... I *have* gotten better about it, believe it or not). I find that I've needed to find a balance point between the assertive no-I'm-going-to-do-what's-right-up-yours-if-you're-gonna-try-to-oppress-me attitude (tho yeah, that still comes out... pretty much daily, to be honest) and the let's-see-if-we-can-find-a-win-win-compromise-that-doesn't-make-me-want-to-vomit-from-compromising-my-integrity end that I fear I may have to cultivate if I ever want to be a college professor. Motherhood has really helped me learn to SEEK that balance point more, even if I still tip to the former quite often.

I had Tori's From the Choirgirl Hotel album playing today while running errands. The album was written after the musician had a miscarriage. I don't think I've listened to it beginning-to-end since becoming a mother myself. I almost started crying during Playboy Mommy. It hit me hard when I first heard it, years before Liam was conceived, but now it reminds me of how very blessed I am to have had uneventful pregnancies and healthy children (especially since we had a friend's 4 year old daughter in the van with us - the friend is newly pregnant again currently, had miscarried a very wanted child shortly before I conceived Col then got pregnant again, the new baby will be less than 2 years younger than that baby). It made me think of the bonds motherhood has formed between me and other women, both child-bearers and not, and how much it has made my maternal line mean to me.

This has also been on my mind today because my mother forwarded to me an article written about my grand-uncle (maternal grandmother's brother, my grandmother is the only one of her siblings to ever marry, her siblings were like additional grandparents to me), which deeply touched me that my uncle's work has survived to be appreciated more than two decades after his death. I wonder what kind of ripples my own life's work will have. If long after I'm gone someone has such kind words to say about me that my descendants can come across, that will tell them that my life was well-lived. I wish I knew more about Uncle Norvin, I hope that my descendants will know more about me (and that I'll live long enough to know more about them... he was only in his mid-60s when he died, I was in kindergarten).

The milk of human kindness flows in many ways, but our babies deserve it first from their mother's breasts. How, in this scary economy, can we make that possible for more women? I am blessed to have had the privilege to breastfeed my children full-term (biologically - other mammals do not wean their young before they have enough teeth to eat a full adult diet... ponder that the next time you hear someone say "that baby is too old to be breastfed". If they're still young enough to have jars of baby food marketed to them, they're still young enough to be fed the way they were born expecting to be nourished). How can we be more kind in a meaningful manner, with mothers who have so many barriers to the way they might want to live? How can we make it possible for the cashier at the grocery store (who mentioned that she is hoping to have another child while commenting on the coolness of the baby carrier - a traditional Chinese style one - we had with us) to breastfeed her own for as long as she might like to, without making her feel like we have no understanding of the complexities of her life that just BEGIN with the chaos of her work schedule? Meaningful, PAID parental leave when a child is born would be part of it, but making breastfeeding mothers feel welcome and accepted in public places instead of abiding the mentality of the few that breastfeeding should only be done at home, behind closed doors - that'd be a start, I think. We've got such a long way to go. I hope that we get there before I'm a memory like my uncle.