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The Child Taboo

I wrote a while ago about children and marriage and how not having either of those means I'm somehow a leper of sorts in some circles. (seen here.

Anyway I'm beginning to feel like I'm perceived as some child hating monster, simply because I dare to voice an opinion about children that cross my path occasionally.

Today I got attacked by the Mummy brigade (well one of their representatives) again. I saw a child going to the toilet in the street, commented on Facebook (and twitter, where actually I got nothing but support!)  that this was, well a little disgusting. Particularly, though this didn't admittedly fit in a status update, because there were public toilets across the street, and a park with bushes come to that. The child didn't have an 'accident' it was being encouraged to do so, I say it because I honestly I quickly felt embarrassed and looked away without working out whether it was a boy or a girl and this is my other point, we live in a society where the childless can't so much as look at a child, without fear of being branded a pedophile not least one semi-naked in public!

Now I appreciate that children are unpredictable, that they do things that embarrass their parents. I'm a trained teacher and I also work in a theatre where children en masse and their (charming, ahem) parents are a frequent feature. If a child in the theatre had an accident, I wouldn't be bothered. I'd hope the parents had the decency to alert staff and apologise but I'd also then tell them it was totally fine we understand these things happen. If a parent pulled down their kid's pants in the middle of the theatre and let them go to the toilet however, that wouldn't be acceptable.

Likewise if a child is playing up in public, if it's a screaming baby and the parent is trying to settle it, or an irate toddler having a tantrum and the parent is mindful doing their best to calm them, then fine, such things happen. If however, as I frequently witness in work and out and about, parents just let their children run amok then this isn't ok. Children are the responsibility of the adults with them and so many parents seem to regard public places as a mass babysitting service for their children. And woe betide anyone who dares even a withering glance in their direction.

And then there's the superior attitude of parents. That anything I (or any other childless person) thinks, or does is somehow lesser because I don't have children. I can have no opinion on the fact that letting children ride their bikes inside at my work is dangerous apparently because I don't have children (though how by looking at me, in my work uniform, that particular woman could tell I don't know). That anyone without a child physically attached to them isn't allowed to comment on their child even if, particularly in a work situation it's only for the child's safety.

I've felt personally attacked by people I thought were friends. I've now got to the point where I'm considering leaving the choir I'm in because three separate women have been particularly nasty to me over children, not even their own I hasten to add, just a general comment made which they could have ignored. One even now goes, with several others, to the other end of a room to avoid me. Another person I considered one of my closest friends no longer speaks to me, largely I think because I don't have a child.

For the record, I think kids are great. Do I want any of my own? I honestly don't know. I'm not in any kind of position to have any right now, and don't know if I'll want them when I am. But I'm not allowed to say that. I'm not allowed to say that really I've never been bothered either way. I don't feel as though they are missing from my life, I don't feel any great revulsion towards having them. I am largely indifferent to the issue. And that's my personal choice. I don't judge how many children or where or when people have theirs, the only issue I will stand my ground on is abortion. I'm ardently pro-choice. But otherwise how/when/where and with whom people have their kids is their choice.

Why must women be so nasty to one another? and why is having or not having children considered a marker of our worth? And why is it so taboo to comment if a child (or lets face it really, it's parents) are behaving unreasonably in public?


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