Tuesday, June 9, 2009
What Not To Be
As a 29 year-old single, childless mixed ethnic woman living in Park Slope I have had my fair share of interactions with children. As a teacher, a cancer, and an auntie, I happen to like little ones which may explain how I lasted this long. But, growing up lower middle class, teaching the very low income, I am repeatedly disgusted by the self-absorbed style of child rearing in the Slope.
I have witnessed mommy daughter tea time conversations "What do you think Daddy wants for dinner?" while the rest of the cafe patrons sit on laptops, single, trying to work. Walking down to my brownstone, families have stopped me in my tracks while they barricade recounting in cerebral detail to their four year-olds their lawyer’s work day. Obviously their family moment took precedent over thirty pedestrian commuters, on their way home.
In the co-op "Linewaiters Gazette," a new position has opened up: a bureau of investigation for any nasty language, sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. What about discrimination against the childless?
At my shift, countless parents have asked if their child may try my job, stamping receipts, ringing up items. If I hesitate, they hatefully glare. I am unimpressed by their kids, I've seen far cuter, more well-behaved. In Japan, in France, in third world countries and amongst the kids I’ve taught, mostly from poor Latino communities.
The entire co-op community is based on sing-a-longs and strollers. Recently, a woman informed me she was going to pick up her two-year old during our shift as check-out cashiers. While she was gone, my shift ended. When I came back later to buy dinner the two year-old’s mommy was ready to confront me.
"You left even though I had to pick up my two year old?"
"You weren't there."
"Because I was picking her up," she let it go saying her child was "okay this time."
I rang up my organic sushi, coconut water and chocolate. What made her time more valuable than mine? And if I have a child, which I hope to, will I ever be as blind?