Showing posts with label Tales from the trenches. Show all posts

Thinking and talking about race with kids: Our Friends at We Stories

This post that is a bit off our normal programming, but seems especially appropriate this week. Unfortunately, the topics are evergreen. 

As our then-two-year-old became increasingly observant, we were suddenly no longer been able to hide in a world where we didn't have to talk about race or other obvious physical differences between people. Living in a diverse city, taking public transit, and seeing people with all sorts of appearance, abilities, and cultures made the issue quickly a topic of everyday conversation (and occasional embarrassment on the train).

Because our children are still very young, and because we have the privilege of being able to choose at times not think about race (i.e., we are white), this is an issue where we are very far from experts. Luckily though, I grew up with someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about these issues professionally. For that reason, I would like to take this post to highlight some of the great resources at We Stories.

Note: We Stories's primary activities are focused on a) the St. Louis area and b) figuring out how to make race something that white families think and talk about. That said, the resources, posts, and other materials linked to by them are appropriate across geographic areas and many are intended for audiences of any race or background. 

Consider this post mostly a round-up of links with commentary by me.

Why talk about race at all? Aren't kids color-blind? 

Post: It turns out they're not, even (in fact, especially) if we never talk about race. 

You can also read more about this in NurtureShock - a book we discussed in a post of our own: Some Stuff Science Says about Parenting.

Just thinking about how to do this is terrifying. 

Post: Where to Start: 12 Small Steps for White Families who Want to be a Positive Force for Change on Racism 

While I like all of their suggestions (really, go read that link), numbers 7-9 on their list about diversifying your bookshelf and mixing up your media really stuck with me as it’s something I’ve confronted over the last year. I know I was startled when I realized just how few black (and other) voices I was hearing - let alone my children - without ever having consciously chosen one way or the other.

Side note: Thanks to the past year’s changes at Comedy Central, we’ve all had the opportunity to experience some new perspectives about the news. Much as I loved Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the cast of the Daily and Nightly Shows have brought to the fore voices and experiences otherwise lacking in much mainstream media. (see Roy Wood Jr., especially at the 2:50 mark for a moving example).

This whole book thing seems doable. What should I get? 

Post: How to use Children's Books to Talk to Kids about Racism 

One day our daughter came home from school talking about pink and brown people. The next day, she assumed (loudly and in public) that a black man busking at Park Street was the same black man on our Green Line train. We knew books would be our first attempt at discussing the topic. From We Stories, we saw recommendations for The Skin you Live In and We're Different, We're the Same and our daughter has loved them both.

Side note: The latter book is a Sesame Street book from the 90s, which means it
  • a) has someone with a flattop, 
  • b) has characters that are no longer on the show (looking at you Barclay), 
  • c) does not have new characters (Abby), and 
  • d) is pretty awesome all around. 
One more aside: It's easy to think of Sesame Street as old, boring, and square, but they have consistently and justly discussed diversity, accepting all people (including yourself, see Segi's I Love my Hair for a powerful example), and living among density and occasional grime (bonus for our target audience).

Any other posts I should be sure to check out? 

Post: What they See. What we say, and don't

That post is a bit of a manifesto for We Stories and helps me understand their mission and how we’ll take their lessons and apply them at home. The stories we tell our children and the stories we tell ourselves matter. Many of us chose urban, vibrant environments for our families in order to engage with diversity. But that choice (or even frequent trips to the Korean grocery market) can't be the end of our story. For our family, it's something we spend a lot of time thinking about, and increasingly, it's something we're spending more time talking about. It is also one (of many) topics that came up in my appearance on the recent TransitMatters podcast.

These guys seem great! How can I find out more? How can I help them? 

For readers on the East Coast: St. Louis? Didn't they lose to the Sox a lot recently? 

Fear not, childhood friend and co-founder Laura Horwitz has spent significant time in Boston, NYC, and Philly.

For readers in St. Louis: Sounds like an Outsider... What High School did this person go to? 

Where was I during Jose Jimenez’s almost second no-hitter in 2 weeks against Randy Johnson? Laura’s basement, as the party drifted toward the TV and away from whatever else was going on. Also, the whole high school thing seems a lot less cute when you realize why it's such a useful statement about your childhood. Our city/county school systems are disturbingly tied to race, income, religion, and other factors that really homogenize childhoods, whatever part of town you are in. 

Totally nerdy policy wonk note 

I absolutely love that the site includes a section on the "Theory of Change." Program Evaluation for the win!


Tales from the Trenches: Parenthood means relinquishing control

The key responsibility of a Product Manager, which is my current job title, is to manage the road map for all the future features one plans to build for the product.  I guess, I was born to be a Product Manager, because my life has always come with a road map.  Sure, that road map has taken some sharp turns.  There was the turn it took when I fell in love with physics in college and abandoned the idea of becoming a doctor.  There was the swerve when I realized that academia was going to crush my soul and I dropped out of my Harvard PhD program with a Masters and never looked back. But those changes were ones that ultimately I myself initiated.

Motherhood, and the avalanche of changes it brought, threw me for a loop because I was in control of none of them.  Many of them were the usual things that first time mothers never expect but almost universally experience. I was rocked by the deep love and simultaneous fear I feel for my children, the depths of the ineptitude I was thrust into when trying to calm a baby's hours of crying, the expanse of guilt at largely irrational things that strikes in the wee hours of the morning.  But of course, every family's journey is also unique, and mine has had a heavy dose of the truly unexpected.

Here is just a brief list of the uncharted roads the self-driving car of motherhood has taken me on.

After nine months of working hard to prepare for a natural birth, my daughter was born by emergency C-section. All the prenatal yoga and hypno birthing classes were great at helping me cope with the pain, but did nothing to prevent her from being tangled up in her umbilical cord.   For the first 20 hours, my labor progressed normally... until it didn't.  The urgency with which the medical staff had to remove her from my body to save her life haunted my dreams in the months that followed her birth. The whole enterprise resulted in a lot of soul searching, with a side serving of PTSD.

When she was five months old, someone walked into the office building that houses her daycare with an active case of tuberculous.  This caused the Department of Public Health to mandate that all the children in the day care receive two months of prophylactic drugs. (The closest I've ever come to quitting my job and moving to a ranch with a shotgun was when we had to figure out how to procure and administer drugs not designed for babies... in the US.  Suffice it to say special pharmacies and mortars and pestles were involved.)

Finally, and most dramatically, when I was six months pregnant with my second child, my wonderful, fit, and healthy husband had a heart attack, just before his 33rd birthday.  He spent 10 days in the ICU and underwent open-heart surgery.  During the rest of my pregnancy, he went through rehab, which ended the week after my son was born.  At the time, as my belly grew, we joked darkly about him becoming more able bodied as I became more burdened with my pregnancy.  We joked because all the tears had been spent.

After all that life has thrown at me, it would be tempting, to try and and draw some grand life lesson. It's tempting to reach for reasons, rail at injustices, or search for karmic explanations. However, for better or for worse, my mind is not inclined to go in those directions for long. Sometimes shit happens and there isn't anyone to blame. Sometimes there is nothing to learn, except maybe the fact that I was not in control to begin with.

I am still the same person… and not.  I still love to work on interesting problems.  I still want to really dig into a juicy dataset that will reveal to me which feature our clients most need us to build. And I confess, that even in my personal life, I still like to make plans for the future.  But with all that has happened, those plans are fuzzy.  I’ve had to accept that there is no real road map any more.  I’ve had to learn on a very deep level that the future brings great uncertainty.  But then again, what is parenthood if not a lesson in great uncertainty, just one that some of us learn a little later than others?

Photo Credit to Victor - "A lost Couple learning the map" under the Creative Commons licence. 

If you're a parent, why I'm begging you to buy life insurance!

If you're a person who's naturally prone to anxiety, the internet can be a scary place. Without even looking for them, horrible stories find their way to the page directly in front of your eye balls only to come haunting your dreams later in the day.  Often the scenarios described are not something you can reasonably protect yourself from, short of locking yourself in a bunker. Even locking yourself in a padded room eating nothing but toast won't protect you from some of the heartbreak that is an inevitable part of the human experience. 

A year ago, this month, I came all too close to heartbreak with the near death of my husband. This essay is a result of that experience. It is a plea for all parents everywhere to buy life insurance.  And before I go on, please do know that everything in this story ultimately turned out fine and my husband’s life insurance policy remains uncashed. (See the many posts he's written for this site). So here goes.

The unexpected can happen to anyone

When I was 24 weeks pregnant with my second child (my daughter was just shy of two years old at the time), my husband had a heart attack.  It was a total and complete shock.  He was 32 and a vegetarian from childhood. 

He woke up one night with searing chest pain and made his way to the Emergency Room not too long after. It took the doctors 2 days to determine that the crisis he had experienced was indeed a heart attack, that the the heart attack was severe, and that he would require open heart surgery. With someone so young and fit, the labs can often tell a very confusing story and that was the case with him. The 10 days my husband spent in the Intensive Care Unit - waiting to figure out what happened, waiting for bloodwork compatible with undergoing surgery, waiting to be stable enough to go home after - were the darkest days of my life. I am so lucky that during that time, and in the many weeks of recovery that followed, I had an amazing community of family, friends, and even acquaintances that went out of their way to provide us with childcare, home cooked meals, help around the house, and countless hours of support, love, and friendship.

This essay has taken me almost a year to write, and the words are still hard to type. During that year, I have had the time to consider what happened from every possible angle.  The initial terror I felt that my husband may not get through the 6 hours of surgery, never hold my hand again, never meet his son growing in my body, grew into a jumble of other emotions. I have felt angry, confused, and helpless.  I have been grateful beyond words for how our village swarmed in to help. And I will admit that I felt a glimmer of relief that we had purchased life insurance the year before all this took place. It provided a small nugget of certainty for me to cling to as I stared into the abyss.

Of all the infinite possibilities I worried about in the days and weeks that followed the heart attack, money was not one of them. Should the worst have happened, I knew that I could afford to pay the mortgage and keep my family living in our house. I knew that I could have kept sending my daughter to the daycare she had attended since she was a baby, the school where she was loved and cared for and happy to go to on a daily basis.  I knew that if I needed to, I could have taken a long time off from working to tend to myself in order to recover from the meteor that had just struck my family.

Prepare for the unexpected

The meteor is what life insurance is for, but there are many barriers that keep people from acquiring it.  So here I offer some advice about how to work through several obstacles and come out the other side with peace of mind.

  1. 1. Money. The cost of a life insurance policy depends on the health of the individual (and of course on how much insurance you want). If you are in good health, now is the time to buy it for a low price. It is absolutely worth it to inquire how much it would cost for you.  If you have health conditions that make it more expensive than you are able to afford, it is often possible to buy extra insurance through your employer, regardless of health status, and even keep it once you leave a job by continuing to pay the premium. Finally, it’s important to consider realistically what financial resources you or your partner have access to, should the worst happen.  It is worth making some sacrifices to know that your loved ones would be taken care of in that scenario.

  2. 2. How much do you need? If you're a household with two working parents, could you afford to pay for your housing and child care on one salary? If one of you stays home with the kids, think about how much it would cost to purchase the services currently provided by the stay-at-home parent (child care, household care, etc.). Everyone’s needs are different, but we roughly figured out the cost to pay off the mortgage, allow for the surviving parent to have a year with no salary, and to ensure that one salary would be enough for the long haul with a little bit of additional savings.

  3. 3. Choosing where to buy. Life insurance policies are largely interchangeable but life insurance companies all calculate your risk differently. As a result, it's worth applying to a couple of them to get the best price. The easiest way to do this is to go through a broker that provides the service of matching you, free of charge.  I went to AccuQuote*, filled out a simple web form, and after a brief phone call with a broker was recommended 3 companies that best matched my health profile.

Many people don't want to spend the money to face their own mortality and if this is you, I urge you to reconsider.  I know it's hard, but picture the practical aspects of what you would need should an accident befall you or your partner. The last thing you probably want to do in that scenario is to have to move out of your house, or further disrupt your children's routines by pulling them out of school. If you’re a single parent, knowing that whoever takes care of your children will have the finances to do so is even more important.

Nobody wants to think of the scary things, but as someone who's had no choice but to face the darkness, I implore you to make a plan for the worst case scenario.

* Most links on this site pay an affiliate commission. However, this topic is serious enough I don’t want anyone to think we’re doing it for the kickback. While we used AccuQuote (who is NOT paying us), I really don’t care who you go with, but please do go with someone. 

Tales from the Trenches: Day Care - I love you so!

When you're pregnant, people feel like it's their job to ask you inappropriate questions. When I had the joy of fielding them while carrying my first, I riddled off the answers on autopilot by week 3 of my second trimester.
"June 7th," I'd smile and say. 
"My husband IS excited it's a girl, thank you for your concern" I would mumble, rolling my eyes internally. 
"Yes I'm sure it's not twins," I'd growl while visualizing unleashing the full extent of my pregnant lady wrath.
Occasionally, someone would run out of inappropriate prenatal questions to ask and would move on to questioning our postnatal plans. Suddenly, everyone was interested in what we were going to do for childcare.

We had always intended to send our progeny to day care.  I don't remember why we had assumed this, but a nanny never seriously entered the discussion.  As such, we dutifully and proactively toured a couple well regarded centers in our area and got our names on the waiting lists for ones we liked. Well, it turns out that sending your kids to day care is perceived in some circles as being just shy of leaving them in the crib all day with a water bottle and an open bag of Cheetos. Day care, it seems, has a bad rap.

Three years and two kids later, not only do I have no regrets about group child care, I could not be more pleased. I know there are many fantastic nannies out there, and it's a great choice for some two-working-parent households, but I am here to speak up for day care and write it the love letter that it so thoroughly deserves. So without, further ado...

Reasons why I   day care

I don't want to have employees

Adding children to a family is already logistically difficult and comes with tons of paperwork.  Not having to add payroll into the mix is a huge win.  I know lots of people pay their nannies in cash, but that's not something I could really see myself doing.  If I was going to hire someone, I would want to give them benefits and pay taxes and do all sorts of other formal things I don't know how to do. I know has recently started advertising that they'll help you set all that up, and that's great but it still seems daunting.

Not only that, but having interviewed and hired people in my professional life, I know that not every employee turns out awesome.  Some have trouble showing up on time, some seem like they are going to be far more competent than they turn out to be, and some end up being jerks. Given that I needed childcare from the time both of my children were 3 months old and thus couldn't speak up for themselves, the idea of leaving them with an unsupervised stranger sent my first time mom fears into hyperdrive.

Day Care teachers are professionals

It turns out that people who dedicate their professional lives to taking care of children are on the whole amazing souls. They definitely don't do it for the money (as shockingly expensive as day care is, the teachers are grossly underpaid in my opinion). Sure, the skill and dedication is true for many professional nannies as well. This point, however, is largely directed at the lady who once said to me that "obviously all working moms feel really guilty about not staying home." Well, I would like to tell her, with as few choice words as possible, that I sure as heck don't. I love and miss my kids, but I like to work and I know my children are in excellent hands.

Not only have all the teachers we've encountered been kind, friendly, and amazingly loving towards our children, but they also know what they're doing.  They were able to get my daughter to nap in a stationary object, they taught her how to dress herself and drink from a cup, and they've had tons of suggestions for us as parents for things to try at home.  It's almost as if they have a degree in this stuff and do it for a living or something... crazy I know!

I send my kids to school so my house can remain intact (somewhat) 

I am not the kind of mom who can craft and get messy with her kids. If you can stay sane while your kid redecorates your house with paint, chalk, or glitter I say "Respect!" I just can't do it. My toddler and I cook together, both my kids spend tons of time playing outside with me, my husband takes them to music class, we have a great time.... but we don't do art projects.

The great thing about sending my kids to "school" is that they are equipped to let the little monsters be "creative".  The lovely teachers are willing to set up for, and clean up from, 7 toddlers using finger paint and play dough - bless their hearts.  They also have lots of great big toys like a water sensory table and a huge play kitchen.  Those are fantastic things for kids to play with, but I live in a condo that feels filled to the brim even without those behemoths.  As a result, I get the best of all worlds: children who have a wide variety of play experiences, a house that one can walk through while only tripping on a couple toys, and I don't have to scrape paint off the ceiling... win, Win, WIN!

They get all those diseases out of the way

Kids being sick all the time is a common concern voiced by "helpful" strangers (ok... and also my mom) about group child care.  And yes, their first year in day care was constantly full of runny noses and mystery rashes. But, keep them home until preschool, smugly proclaiming how healthy your kids are... And it turns out science says, they'll just get all those same diseases their first year of school. There's just no way out of the cesspool of disease that is early childhood. I figure since no one expects anything out of you when you're a new parent just back to work, you may as well cash in on those low expectations and stay home with your constantly sick baby then.

All the kids have working parents

Finally, all the children my children interact with live in households with two working parents. From before they could remember, Mom and Dad took them to school and then went to work.  There is no confusion as to why Mom and Dad can't stay and play with them.  They don't go to playgroups with a nanny where other children came with Mom or Dad. I'm sure at some point when they're older they'll ask why we have to go to work, but given how normalized it is in their world I'm guessing it's going to be a lot later. Frankly, my almost 3 year old has "why" and "what" on repeat already, so if we can cross one off the list - score!

I have a nanny/am a SAHM/have magical children who sit quietly while I work... Are you judging me?


If you found a child care situation that works for you and your family I salute you because this stuff is HARD no matter how you slice it. I know that when we're being honest with each other, we've all had the experiences so universal, they are cliches. Like... wanting to run away from our children and join the circus when the toddler has spilled her third full cup of milk in one meal despite repeated warnings to be careful, or when you've bounced the baby for 2 hours to finally have him blissfully drift off to sleep only to start howling because someone rang the door bell and woke him up. Conversely, I know you've stood in your child's room watching her sleep at night, shedding a tear at the thought of how fast she's growing.

So no, if you love and care for your children I have no grounds to judge you no matter how you do it. Just know that day care is not an "only if you must option" for child care.  It is, in fact, a great option for many families.  As for my family, it will forever have a special place in my heart as the place that loved and cared for my children for those hours of the day that I could not.

Tales from the Trenches: FOMO, Working Mom/Last Baby Edition

When my first child was born, I was not ready to be a mom. When you read a sentence like that, your mind probably jumps to thoughts of teenage mothers, unplanned pregnancies, and unstable relationships.  Yet none of them were, in fact,the truth for me.

I was 29 years old when my daughter was born. My husband and I had been married for exactly 4 years (she was due on our wedding anniversary, though she was too tardy to celebrate with us).  We lived in a condo we owned and I had a master’s degree and a blossoming career under my belt.  Not only that, but I had spent the year before my daughter's conception all but badgering my husband to declare that he too was ready for parenthood.

And yet... and yet...  though I had yearned to be a mom with every fiber of my being, I had no concept of what it would mean. I found my daughter's arrival, her constant need, the million decisions she forced me into making on her behalf utterly paralyzing. I suspect I am not the only mom to ever have had such a realization, though too many of us keep this to ourselves. I had a continuous anxious stream of doubt narrating everything I did.  The torrent could best be summarized with the words "I am moments away from failing the most important test life has ever presented me with."  And so it was with some relief that I handed my daughter over to the confident, warm, and professional care of ladies at the daycare.  They sent dozens of children home alive every day - surely they would do no worse by my child.

Fast forward two and a half years. I have grown much more comfortable in my role as a mother. This journey has taught me a million and one lessons in patience, humility, and our inability to control things as parents.  I now have a second child - a beautiful, cuddly, 5 month old boy. He is truly a delight and I know he is my last child.

I know this because we don't want to move to a bigger house.  I know this because I physically could not handle another pregnancy.  I know this because both my husband and I are ready to move onto the next chapter of our lives and leave diapers and naps behind when these kids are ready.  So I find myself aching, every time I leave him in the care of the very same confident, warm, and professional ladies at the daycare.  I want to hold him a little too tight and soak in every scent of his babyhood.

Now, instead of worrying that I am not measuring up as a mother, I am terrified that by going to work each day I'm missing out on giggles that I will never have the opportunity to hear again.  I know how all too soon he will be too mobile, too busy, too curious, too excited by the world to sit on my lap and play with my finger.  I can see this future because of the bold path forged by my fearless daughter. And so, at night, I nurse him a little longer.  I feel his body relax into mine and my inner monologue screams "remember this!!".  I know that as he achieves his milestones I will be proud and sad in equal measure.

I am sure that stay at home moms feel exactly the same way about their last babies.  I am sure of this because one of the many things motherhood has taught me is the universality of this pull towards our children. Also, I am sure because the phrase "if that's the last baby I ever snuggle, it will be too soon!" has never been said.

I love working. I find it fulfilling. I'm good at it. I also appreciate paying our mortgage. Quitting is not on the table any more than having more children or joining the circus.

And yet.... And yet... I fear missing his babyhood.  He is my second, my last baby and though I know this to be the right choice for me, my heart breaks for it.

Tales from the Trenches: Ignore the haters... Babies are hard and toddlers are awesome!

Toddler pretending to be cute, actually a terror.
If you rattle around the parent internet for even a little bit, you'll notice that toddlers have a bad rap.
"You think that baby is hard? Wait until the terrible twos!" says someone.
"Oh two is nothing" some other very... ahem... helpful... person will say "don't you know that three is the new two?"
And everyone knows that you can't take a toddler out to eat because they are just the worst.

Ok so full disclosure: at the time of this writing my oldest is only two and a half so it's completely possible that I will be shown my comeuppance in six months (I also have a 5 month old baby).  That said, I think we've had our fair share of tantrums turned up to 11. I've definitely stood on the sidewalk next to a child who has gone rigid with rage and thrown themselves on the ground. I've had to give a toddler a bath against her will - the kind of bath where both adults are required and come out soaking wet.  And even with all that, I would never say something like what's written above.

Let's be nice to (and honest with) new parents

When I say "it's not nice" to tell new parents that it just gets harder, I also want to be clear that it's not because we should keep this terrible secret to ourselves. I mean because it's not actually true. Someone who does this either plain ole' doesn't remember how terrifying it is to be granted sole responsibility over a child for the first time or is just a jerk. Parents grow *with* their children. And the parents of toddlers who are obnoxious to new parents have simply forgotten how impossibly hard babies are.

Reasons why toddlers are easier than babies

  • - Toddlers understand language. They can usually tell you what's wrong. You know that time your baby screamed for 5 hours before you finally thought to take them to the doctor and found out they have a raging ear infection? That sure was fun! A couple months ago my daughter woke up and said "mama ear hurt." Oh it killed the mystery and romance of trying to guess which underworld God the kid was possessed with, but I've never liked surprises anyway. Now, obviously toddlers have their moments: when they don't hear a thing you're saying, when they have no interest in using their words (see: rigid with rage), when they whine about cookies for hours on end, etc.. That said, if my daughter is howling for a cookie, I feel comfortable ignoring the hell out of her because I know she's not going to die.  When a baby screams like that, there's no way to know if they're just angry at the walls or if something is actually wrong. And with a toddler, there's always distraction! Under most circumstances you can say "time for lunch" and your kiddo will cheerfully run to their designated seat. Which brings us to... 

  • - Toddlers can walk. By 18 months normally developing children have taken their first steps and many are already quiet mobile. This means you're not constantly balancing them on your hip as you do EVERYTHING. Welcome to being able to stand up straight when you brush your teeth!

  • - Toddlers eat real people food. You arrive at day care having forgotten your toddler's lunch on the train/in your driveway/in the fridge? Well that's unfortunate, you're going to have to go to Starbucks and get her a croissant and a banana. You forget you baby's breast milk or the one formula you've used since his birth/he isn't allergic to/the pediatrician prescribed? You are so majorly screwed! Cue trudging back home and taking the morning off work! 

  • - Toddlers sleep at least sometimes.  Ok yes... even toddlers never sleep in, don't understand proper behavior during day light savings time or when crossing time zones, and totally get the stomach flu in the middle of the night.  That said, as the parent of a baby who spent more than a month waking up... every... hour... to nurse... every... night... I can tell you that no deeper hell exists in this dimension.  I swear, at one point that month all the color was sucked from the world and only shades of grey existed.  In the mean time, my toddler daughter was rocking the zzz's for a good 11 hours most nights.

To the parents of babies - it gets easier

So if you're reading this and you have a newborn who is causing your brain to slowly leak out your ears, know that it won't always be like this.  It will get better when your baby will smile at you, it will get less stressful when your baby starts solids, and everything will be forgiven once he says "I love you" for the first time. So hang in there - it gets easier!

Tales from the Trenches: Weird comments on transit edition

Toddler's first trip to day care on the bus without a stroller.
It's definitely the lazy "nothing important is going to happen at work" time of the year. So in honor of that, we here at Kids in the Stairwell decided to take a break from our normally scheduled programming to start a new (recurring?) segment where we relate funny/thought provoking/ridiculous anecdotes that have happened to us on our parenting journey. So without further ado, this installment will be devoted to...

Crazy weird stuff people have said to us when using transit with an unrestrained child

As we mentioned in some previous posts, our daughter ditched the stroller pretty early (about 20 months). She's also always been pretty ahead in the gross motor skills arena. These two things are almost certainly highly related. Regardless, this means that we've had the experience of taking the bus and train (and making transfers) with a very small child not protected with the cocoon of a stroller. While for the most part this engenders exclamations as to her precociousness, occasionally this results in odd or downright hostile interactions.

You should carry her!

One time, I was walking down the stairs into the train station with my daughter who was doing a great job walking down the stairs beside me. As we were descending, a man, who was passing us, turned around and barked at me that I was being unsafe and should pick her up. This was particularly odd as I was visibly quite pregnant and also the toddler was not causing a problem (at that exact moment, because believe me.... My toddler knows how to cause a problem).  I'm not sure exactly where our behavior was so unsafe as to elicit comment, but it's good to know that the public has our interest at heart... or something.

She looks cold!

One time my husband was on the bus and an old lady told him that our daughter looks cold and then PROCEEDED TO ATTEMPT TO BUTTON HER COAT FOR HER! I guess she didn't get the memo about not touching other people's children without permission (or really just touching other people you don't know on the bus, regardless of age)...

Happy Mother's Day!

This past mother's day, at 32 weeks pregnant, I was boarding the bus with my daughter in tow, heading home from the playground. As I got on, the driver looked me up and down (pausing at my giant belly) and said
"Happy Mother's Day, I guess"
Awww thanks buddy, but really you could have stopped talking before the "I guess" part.

Take a cab!

And for our last anecdote, one time my husband boarded a bus with our daughter and her large carseat in a backpack (this was before we had the good fortune to acquire the IMMI GO). Another passenger angrily insisted to my husband that he should take a cab. One can only assume that he was unaware that it's called public transit and thus open to the general public, which does include children...

Your turn...

What weird and ridiculous comments have you all encountered when taking public transportation with your kids?