So I regale you with yet another tale of how when you have a baby, everyone considers it their God-given right to tell you how to parent.
I had, as usual, carefully considered how Piglet and I were presenting ourselves to the world, in order to deflect any unwanted comments. Piglet was wearing his snowsuit, and despite the fact that it wasn’t even that cold, I had also brought a blanket to cover him with, lest any well-intentioned individuals decide that I was a neglectful mother for not swaddling Piglet to within an inch of his life. As we were travelling by bus, I considered taking him out in the sling, so that we wouldn’t be taking up space that may be required by a wheelchair user, or a person with more children than me, whilst also winning bonus points by carrying my baby, which according to the doctrines of attachment parenting is better for the child than being pushed in a pram, because they can like, hear your heartbeat and stuff. And also it’s what people did in the olden times back on the savannah, innit. Then I decided against it, as surely if babywearing is indeed better for the child, it wouldn’t result in said child yelling all the way to Ealing because the way Mummy is sitting on the bus is uncomfortable for him, and then being knackered and unable to sleep the whole time we are out as there is nowhere for him to lie down. So, like the selfish mother that I am, I took the pram.
This was all fine until the way home, when I was sitting contentedly on the bus with Piglet blissfully asleep, until a particularly loud party of schoolchildren walked past, and Piglet woke up. Like he always does when there is any hint of noise. After all, in the olden times back in the cave, he had to stay alert all the time just in case a sabre toothed tiger was hanging around, hoping for a bit of a nosh up. For a while, he was content to sit quietly, looking around (there were surprisingly no sabre toothed tigers on the 83 bus, just a mad bloke who kept caressing the pole with the bell on it) but as time went on, the traffic got worse and he started to get bored, the whingeing started.
“Don’t worry,” I told him reassuringly, “we’ll soon be home.”
Judging by the state of the traffic, this was at best an optimistic estimate, and at worst an outright lie, but Piglet had not yet descended into actual shouting, so surely the other passengers on the bus could put up with the occasional whimper.
And then the elderly man next to me turned to me and explained everything.
“He wants milk.”
Well, at least he had got Piglet’s gender right. This was an improvement from earlier in the day, when I had been in Boots buying mascara and the woman at the counter leaned over and said knowingly to Piglet, “you’ll be wearing that before too long!” Not wanting to conform to gender stereotypes by protesting that he was actually a boy, I had nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
I explained to the man on the bus that Piglet was going to be fed when he got home, but I didn’t really want to breastfeed him on the bus, and anyway, hunger was not the cause of his discontent on this occasion. Why I felt I had to justify myself to the entire cohort of the 83 bus I do not know, but I immediately assumed that the man thought that I must be starving my child.
Which he obviously did, as his next comment was, “he needs nipple. Somebody give him nipple.”
Emergency! Emergency! Piglet is showing a small amount of displeasure on public transport! The logical conclusion to this is that I am officially such a terrible specimen of mother and general human being that I need someone else to feed my starving baby as I am incapable of doing it myself by means of breast, bottle or solid food.