Sunday, December 4, 2011

Other people have problems too.

I was having dinner at a local restaurant last week when I overheard a girl complaining about her treatment at the University standing right next to me. She noticed  she was being loud and apologized. Intrigued I decided to join the conversation. She was young, black, she was a student and she had a baby. And I was introduced to a world of problems from a perspective I never knew. And it got me to think. We're used to think in categories. And we tend to frame prejudice and limit it to issues like race, color, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Decades of awareness campaigns and special legislation have made the public develop at least some form of understanding of what the basic problems of these groups are. Constitutional law in similar fashion has developed a number of protected classes that subject the regulating them to higher levels of scrutiny. Having a baby somehow puts you outside those form of protection and understanding. I understand the stares she get from bystanders who seem to think "who is that person and what does she want. I've experienced the looks of pity.

 I know what it's like to wonder what goes through somebody's mind when they see you. For her it's "what  is this young girl doing with a baby" just as much as  much as "is he homeless, is he in trouble" is for me. Yes, people's stares can hurt. I can actually excuse some of the looks  she's getting. The sight of a college girl with a stroller is so rare, some people might just be curious about her story or think it's some kind of a performance. But sometimes, most of the time, we just want to be left alone and not be judged by people we don't know. I can relate to some of the other problems she has every day, while not so much to others, but all is definitely worth to think about. I know what it's like to have a bus driver not very enthusiastic to get the lift out. But for me he has to, I'm protected by the ADA. With her, they've been doing it at their own discretion. And I agree, that the public transit system should have a policy to accommodate strollers. It's not only kind and considerate, it's common sense. It's much more faster and efficient to have the lift out rather than having the mother fold, unfold or carry things separately which takes time, requires strength and is stressful. Having a baby means more than just having a folding table in both male and female restrooms. Some other issues are more problematic; The girl complained  that when attending a show or an exhibition she's forced to buy a second ticket for a baby. She concluded, that they are trying to discourage people from taking toddlers with them and I can see why they would. Perhaps they want other people not to be disturbed, but maybe there should be a daycare/play area to help the parent out?

You can say that unlike other groups a baby is not a permanent  condition. You can always leave it at home. But sometimes you shouldn't or you shouldn't have to. Something to think about? Isn't it odd how little understanding we have for mothers with babies. Childhood is something we all experience, shouldn't it be something we all understand and relate to?