Making the most of a new life

Why I never want to be a celebrity



It is day three of rant week on ChangingDad. I have found seven things that rather annoy me since becoming a parent and have decided to spent the week getting them off my chest.

Today’s theme is something that first came to my attention just before Jake was born. Karen and I went on holiday for a week knowing that it would be the last opportunity to do so, at least just the two of us, for a number of years to come (and so it has proved). Given that I was about to become a father I was suddenly awoken to the fact that there were actually rather a lot of toddlers and babies around the place. What I had not realised is that many people treat little ones as if they are public property to be prodded, stroked and commented on. I remember one instance on that particular trip as clear as day when a woman reached into a pram of a baby she did not know and proceeded to do all the “coochie coo” stuff. I was outraged by this behaviour but took from the mother’s reaction that this was far from an isolated incident.

When I told Karen about this she was also unsurprised and told me of instances when people had regarded our in utero baby as being public property too, believing it to be quite ok to give Karen’s tummy a rub: a pre-natal celebrity. Why is this deemed acceptable by some people, most of whom, I am sure do not mean anything by it but who are also completely oblivious to the line that it crosses or the offence that it can cause.

Since the boys were born I have lost count of the number of times that their actions have been commented on as if they were X-Factor contestants, ripe for public comment. I half expect to see Jake or Sam on the front page of a tabloid paper under the headline “My cafe hell: parents made me EAT green things”, or some such. As already mentioned it also seems to have been deemed ok for some complete stranger to give a baby or toddler some sort of pat, often from people who have heavy colds and/ or coughs. Well thanks, it is nice to share but I am quite happy if you keep some things to yourself: your hands for instance.

But it is not only the children that are often regarded as public property, we parents, by association, also seem to be in the spotlight. So our valiant efforts at getting through the day without any major mishap, meltdown or embarrassment can be brought to nought by some stranger who chooses to take the child’s side and that vital moment when it seems that I have reached a delicate consensus with the boys. It really is not against the UN Convention on Human Rights to restrict the number of sweets our children eat in a public place, but by the way some people react you would think I was selling them into slavery.

What is more if you do make any protestation about such activities you are met by a reaction which questions how you could be so sensitive, how could you possibly complain about your children receiving such complimentary attention.

So far so clear you may think. Well indeed, but here is the rub. I am also proud of my boys most of the time. They are boisterous, tend to fight with each other quite a bit, and are often rather loud. But they are also sweet, cute, kind and thoughtful; and I rather like it when people notice that with a rye smile or a knowing look; and I am aware that I sometimes do that with other parents.

So am I being unfair to criticise people who take a more intense interest in the boys? I do not think so and think that there are lines that should not be crossed; for me there is a chasm between interference and acknowledgement.

I have not invited any celebrity by becoming a parent, and I am not comfortable to be in such a position; if I was I would be on some reality TV show like a shot.

I await the first series of ‘I’m a parent get me out of here’.

3 thoughts on “Why I never want to be a celebrity

  1. If only there was a way to sort of signal that you aren’t comfortable with other people coochie-cooing etc. your kids without causing offence. It’s so difficult because they’re only trying to be nice. Personally, I often wander past kids in supermarkets, parks etc. and want to interact with them, try and make them laugh or whatever, but I resist it just in case the parent isn’t comfortable with it. Another thing that’s tricky is when I’m out with the dogs and there are children about. You find yourself quickly gauging the kid / parent’s relationship with animals and trying not to scare them. I guess if you err on the side of leaving people be you can’t go wrong, but I also love the little moments when you do get to interact with families out in the real world.

    • Thanks for your comment. I know it is very difficult. I have absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of people are well meaning, and it is really nice when someone complements me on the boys behaviour. I guess I find it tiring enough to be constantly looking out for the boys when we are out an about (you really cannot relax for a minute), and feeling that I am under the gaze of others somehow add another layer on top of that. The issue of dogs is a sensitive one for us since one tried to get into Jake’s pram when he was very young and he is still extremely wary of them. Again I know that dog owners, many of whom have children as well, are only wanting to be friendly and want to show that their dogs are harmless, but this always has the opposite effect on Jake.

      It is a very difficult area, which is why I wanted to write about it and find out what others thought.

  2. Pingback: What’s eating me today? | ChangingDad

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