Mark, the Sling and I Against The World

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Mark in the Sling

“Oh my God, he is so tiny!”

I smile politely to the middle-aged woman who is pointing at Mark, sleeping soundly in the sling against me.

“No, but really, he is tiny,” the random stranger insists, frowning and blocking the way to take a closer peek.

“He is five weeks old,” I explain.

“But how much does he weigh?”

“About 3.2 kilo.”

Next thing she is going to ask me how much *I* weigh.

She is eyeballing him—she doesn’t seem to trust me. “How can he be so tiny?”

Er… I don’t know—because he fit in my uterus for 38 weeks and was only born five weeks ago?

“He is Chinese,” I deadpan. “Chinese babies are smaller because China is a very crowded place.” And I walk away gracefully, leaving her to wonder whether I am joking or not.

At least, she didn’t attempt to “pet” Mark like an old woman did the other day at Shoppers Drug Mart. Please, don’t touch the baby, I don’t know where your hands have been (and I don’t want to know!) and I wouldn’t want strangers to touch me either.

Some people are strange. After the “pregnancy police”, I’m meeting members of the “baby police” each time Mark, Feng and I go out.

I usually carry Mark in a sling (I have the Amerigo, if you are curious). This is the best thing I bought ever, even though it was overpriced for what it is—a five-meter long piece of fabric I wrapped myself into to carry Mark on my chest. It’s comfortable, it’s cozy for him, it’s secure and I have both hands free. I love it.

In some parts of the world, it is a traditional way of carrying babies. But it is not that common in Canada apparently, and people tend to stare at us when we go out. Most strangers smile when they realize I have a baby, not a bomb, strapped to me. Random strangers coo over Mark and ask me how old he is, what is his name, whether the sling is practical, etc. I don’t mind questions—to be honest, I’m actually proud of Mark, he is a cute baby and I’m happy to show him.

But I could do without the dumb comments.

“No way this kid is comfortable like that”.

Trust me, he is. When something bothers Mark, he lets us know by screaming on top of his lungs. It is an effective protest method. Right now, he is sleeping quietly against my breast—and my boobs are comfy, don’t you dare contradicting me.

“How old is he? Like, two days old?”

Yes, of course, I have a two-day-old baby and I’m shopping at the mall, buying socks was a priority for me after giving birth.

“Can he move?”

It’s a sling, lady, not a straitjacket!

“Doesn’t look very secure…”

Want me to jump around to prove you it is?

People are strange. Why don’t they mind their own business? When did it become socially acceptable to tell strangers what to do? What are they trying to prove? It’s hard enough being a new mother; you don’t need sanctimonious comments—you already tend to second-guess yourself a lot because babies don’t come with instruction manuals. You are tired, slightly emotional and you are adjusting to a new life. Random dumb comments and unwanted advice from misinformed strangers don’t help—meaningful advice from true friends or experienced people do.

Oh well. I guess everyone is a baby expert but me. Hey, I’m only the mother, after all!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

25 Comments

  1. I did witness those with friends of mine. The sling is “barbaric”, the baby is not comfortable, you should put his comfort before yours (I actually did hear that in a bus with a friend of mine carrying a newborn). And yes, the baby-petting and the pregnant-belly touching, from total strangers. What is WRONG with people? Seriously? (and if the sling is used for ages, there is a reason).
    Stop listening to them, they’re just jealous of your super-cute baby 🙂

    • I actually like to hear people’s stupid comments because it gives me writing material 😆 I also heard the “you are putting yours comfort before his” comment, which is completely stupid. People can be so judgmental!

  2. “Chi­nese babies are smaller because China is a very crowded place.”

    Did you really say that ?!!! I need to remember this one and use it when the times comes!!!! 😀 😀

  3. LOL! This post actually had me laughing out loud. I can’t believe people make these comments to you! Actually, perhaps I can… My mother is Chinese-Filipina (my father is Spanish) and I think has heard some crazy comments of her own from my father’s side of the family re: baby upbringing. Not sure if she’s had any comebacks as clever as yours though – Chinese babies are smaller because China is a very crowded place?! I love it. 🙂

    Milsters

  4. There is something about babies and very small children that gives strangers permission to comment. Those who make such comments are almost always parents themselves, mothers more often than fathers. I’m not sure why this is so but I have done it myself. The little child, so serenely helpless, invites us to share the experience somehow.

    When I first retired I contracted to be the Santa for the largest shopping mall in Tulsa. I did this for 6 seasons and it was an amazing experience. A few days before Christmas a young mother brought her newborn dressed like a tiny elf and wanted his picture with Santa. He was so small he sat in the palm of my hand while I held him upright with the other hand. He was blissfully asleep throughout. I asked the mother how old he was and she said he was four days old, a little small she said, but this was his first Christmas and she wanted a picture with Santa. She returned with the child every year to have a new picture with the “real” Santa.

    • That’s a cute story!

      I don’t mind people who are genuinely curious but I hate when they are judgmental. I’m happy to answer question and I’m proud of Mark, just don’t tell me ho to do things when you don’t know us!

  5. That was such a great come back! It is quite astounding that complete strangers think they have the right to comment on what you do let alone touch your child or pregnancy bump. There are some strange people in this world!

  6. I know it can be very annoying (I’m the same with people with… pets). But I don’t think it’s more than curiosity and the wish to bond a bit. My dad is that way, he’s always talking to strangers in the street, for whatever reason. It was kind of embarrassing for me as a kid but I do understand from where it comes from!

  7. The first time I saw baby strollers in epidemic proportions was when I came to Canada. In India, people hold their babies in their arms so I find this stroller method a bit lazy and un-parently. It’s convenient I guess but I’d rather take the sling. 🙂

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