Tuesday, November 20, 2007

in retrospect

When we were kids, my mom would take us to Philadelphia to see her family once every 2 years. She did it when she had only my sister, then she did it with two kids, and she kept doing it once I came along. That meant that when I was a baby she got on an airplane with me, my 3 year old brother, and my 5 year old sister. She must have been insane.

The last time I flew anywhere was to see my friend Kayla out in Oregon. I was sitting in my seat when the last people boarded, and it was a family of 6 - two parents and 4 kids. It looked like twin 5 year old boys, and two younger ones - one about 3 and one maybe a year old. The parents looked harried, exhausted, dragging 8 million pieces of luggage behind them. I know I exchanged looks with people next to me, as if to say, "this is going to be one long, tear filled flight". In the 3 hours that I was on that plane, I didn't hear the kids once. The parents kept these kids totally engaged with books, coloring, stories, and various other things. I was shocked, and felt bad about my eye rolling. I guess I had become a victim of the "other people's children" mentality, and I was embarrassed that it was so easy to fall into.

It's hard to avoid saying "I would never let my child do that" especially now that I'm pregnant and that hypothetical child is soon to be a reality. Naming and listing things that I would never do is just dangerous territory for doing exactly what I say I won't do. There is something about being pregnant and having a child that allows strangers and acquaintance's to offer you unsolicited advice. I've changed my tune a little bit when we talk to people who don't know us well, and instead of "we're doing cloth diapers" I say "we're going to try to do cloth diapers" and "we're going to try to make our own baby food as much as possible." This still brings scorn and rueful laughter from people who think they know how hard it is to do these things, but those friends that we have who have gone the same route offer nothing but support and encouragement. They tell us how easy it was to incorporate making baby food and how few loads of wash the diapers actually are. They don't make us feel stupid for saying we want to try to avoid all the plastic toys and licensed characters, and in fact they offer us advice on how they got away with donating everything back to the thrift store. I like support better than I like being laughed at. I would never let my kid do that.

No comments: