Guest Post by Lynne Gomez
Yesterday I took my boys to a festival to honor the military and local heroes (police, fire, paramedics, local military, etc). It was sponsored by Chick-Fil-A, which meant there were about 10 cows dressed as various heroes walking around at different times. This sounds all great and good...... unless your child is afraid of oversized figures that shouldn't be able to walk around, walking around. (He was afraid of Chuck E. Cheese, too.). Every time a cow came in our direction my baby stopped, dropped everything he was holding and ran behind my legs. He would poke his tiny little head around my legs to make sure the cow didn't see HIM. If the cow did wave, come closer or even look in any way threatening my boy would drop to his bum, put his back against my legs and hide his head under his arms. Are you laughing? Because the first time it happened and I did too! Seriously! I mean he's nearly two and to see him act so dramatic was kinda cute...the first time. It was even cute the second, third, fourth and fifth time. Then it got old. Every time that dag-gone cow came towards us all of our progress was stalled as my son flipped out. It was obviously stressful for him as well and every time he got more stressed.
At one point, I am ashamed to admit, I growled under my breath at the poor cow (out of the cow's earshot) and asked why the bleepity-bleepin' cow had to be out here anyway and why couldn't the bleepity-bleep-bleep-bleepin' cow just stay the bleepity-bleep-bleep on the other side of the bleepity-bleep festival. Why did he have to keep aggravating MY kid? Why couldn't the bleepin' cow just stay the bleep wherever it was taking its bleepin' break while my kids were at the bleepin' festival because this stopping every time we saw a bleepin' cow was really bleepin'-bleep getting bleepin' old and I just wanted to get through the bleepin'-stupid-bleepin' festival before everyone bleepin' packed up and left and we were standing in the middle of the bleepin' field alone and had missed all the bleeeeeepin' exhibits. Yea, I was at that point. Then, thankfully, I realized how ridiculous it was to even think this. And then it made me think deeper...
Wouldn't it be awesome if everything that annoyed us or caused us concern could just be easily dismissed and banned from the area just to satisfy our needs? I mean really. You, the cow scaring my kid, you are banned from the festival JUST to make MY child feel better. Yup, my child is MUCH more important than ALLLLLLL the other kids that come running up to you, get photos with you, give you fives and hugs...even more important than my MUCH BRAVER three year old who ran up to you! YOU...OUT!
Would you really walk up to a woman in a store and ask her to walk away because there is too much skin/fat/whatever showing and it bothers you? Would you ask someone with a tattoo or piercing to go away to the other side of the pool because you don't like looking at their ears hanging to their shoulder? Would you walk up to a walking animal at the festival and ask it to not come back out because YOUR child is afraid of it? No. No one sane would...not and REALLY expect it to happen. Ok, so some really huge jerk probably would walk up to someone and ask them to cover their fat or make other rude comments, but we would all nod when that offended person knocked the jerkwad on their @$$, right? What I am saying is, these requests wouldn't be made, legitimately, in the actual expectation that the offending party would comply.
Why is a baby eating any different? LET ME ASK IT AGAIN IN ANOTHER WAY...Why would a mom who is breastfeeding her child be treated any differently? We all have things in our immediate vicinity at some point in our life that pushes our level of comfort. It happens. It really does. It is OUR job to look at WHY it bothers us, decide if there is something we can do to fix it (Can I attempt to be vigilant and direct my son's attention away from the cow when the cow comes near us?) and deal. Or is it more acceptable for us to make wild requests and/or give wild orders to the offender and expect the entire world to make US happy? I really do fail to see why people think it is their GOD GIVEN RIGHT, PRIVILEGE and LAW GIVEN RIGHT to tell a mother how to nurse her child because THEY have issues regarding breastfeeding (jealousy over their attempt to nurse their child not going the way they wanted it to?, body images?, just never saw it before and unwilling to adapt?). I can't ask the cow to leave and by law (at least in my state and many many others), no one can ask a nursing mom to leave. That's just the way it is. We need to find ways to adapt, explain our issues, walk away when necessary, avert our gazes (or our child'S) and move on. We simply cannot expect the entire world to only expose us to things that we are 100% comfortable with. We need to be able to talk to our children
"Mommy why are that man's ears so big?"
"Because that man has decided to make them big with special equipment."
"Mommy why is that lady so big?"
"Because every person is different and that's how it is. People have different skin color, body types, hair color, eye color. We are all different."
"Mommy, what is that lady doing?"
"She is feeding her baby."
See, not that hard at ALL! In fact, the last one was the easiest for me! Yes, I have been asked all of the above questions. I have had to answer them. Sometimes within earshot of the person in question, sometimes not. The baby feeding question has been asked about bottles and breast. They were both answered in the same way. No need to change the entire world and ask the people in question to leave the vicinity so I didn't have to answer a question. No need at all. But that is the FIRST thing thrown up by anti-breastfeeding idjits. "What will the poor parents tell their children when the child sees you BREASTFEEDING?" (with breastfeeding said in as nasty a tone as the person can dredge up). Really? It's that hard? Beause I had to explain about ten thousand times that the cow was harmless and deal with all that scaring my child and such, but I don't get to ask the cow to go the bleepity-bleep-bleep away. You don't get to ask the mom feeding her child to go away EITHER!
By the way, we did get through the festival with no major catastrophes. We got to see all the fun stuff, we saw a momma nursing her little tiny babe, we had a blast...except for the dog-gone cow and my baby!
Lynne is the director at PPN Colorado Springs and is passionate about full-term breastfeeding and breastfeeding rights, peaceful and attachment parenting, baby wearing, and genital integrity.