you do not have a right to child free spaces.
there is this weird thing in western culture, especially n american culture, where people/adults seem to believe that they have a right to discriminate against children.
recently, i was hanging out at a bar, when a friend called and invited me to come hang out for a few drinks and chill time as the sun came up. cool. then, i heard a bit of whispers in the background and the question posed to me: is aza with you?
ummm…what? why? does that matter?
my daughter, aza, is a person. a three year old person. a funny, cute, bad-ass, curly haired person who loves to dance and draw, wearing short skirts, watching pink videos, and talking on the phone. frankly, she is probably cooler than you are. she is definitely cooler than i am. but even if she wasnt you dont have the right to discriminate against her based on her age. or her race. or her gender. or her nationality, etc.
sometimes she is loud. but frankly, she is normally one of the quieter people in a room full of inebriated souls. and since she is a person, and not a thing, it is not my job as her mother to ‘control’ her. love her? yes. model how to be respectful to fellow human beings and other sentient creatures? yes. teach her self respect, self love? definitely yes.
im not a feminist ( yeah, i said it…shrug). but i dont understand people who claim to be feminist on one hand, and on the other hand think that children should be designated to certain public and private spaces, not mixing in ‘normal’ public areas, such as restaurants, stores, airplanes, etc. cause in us culture, when you create little reservations for children, you are really creating little reservations for mothers. it is the mother who will be sent away to take care of the child. and how is that supporting all women and girls?
ive even heard people claim that mamas, like me, just dont want to face up to the fact that they are parents and still want to live as if they are unattached. ummm…nope. i know im a mama. i love being one. i simply dont believe that my mamahood means that i must be shunted away from the rest of society. nor do i believe it is beneficial to my daughter if she is not allowed to interact and explore the world as it is.
you know in a lot of cultures, like the one i live in now, the lines between adult spaces and child spaces are much more porous. it is assumed that kids will be around. that people of all ages will be. because of this kids learn early on what is expected of them in various social situations. they dont expect that every space they enter will be made to cater to their age group. and they learn to negotiate boundaries with various people.
but dont get me wrong. kids will be kids. at times that means tears, loud noises, knocking things over, etc. and when that happens the worst things to do is start sending out negative energy, glaring at the mama and child, yelling, sour faces, etc. much more helpful is to take a deep breath, send warm energy toward the mama and kid, give a sympathetic smile, and maybe even start talking with the kid to distract her from whatever has her upset at the moment. a lot of times, a little bit of attention from an outsider will change the mood quickly. doing so in a way that does not overstep the mama’s boundaries and voila! you are the hero of the moment. and everyone is happier and less stressed. see, really, its that easy.
anyways, i dont live in n america, so for the most part i only have to deal with these anti child attitudes when i am around expats. most folks here when they see you walk in with a kid, smile. and say hi. when they see she is in a bad mood, they make weird faces at her, and ask me if there is anything that she needs that they can get me. we’re not talking nuclear physics here, we are talking basic human compassion for another human being.
this topic was on my mind, and i thought that maybe some feminists could use a refresher course, a reminder, that kids are people. shorter, cuter, more honest people.
ah aza just woke up so i need to go. but if you are interested in more ways to support mamas and kids, especially in activist circles, please check out dont leave your friends behind. vikki and china are doing amazing work editing and compiling ways to remind us how to support parents and kids in this world.