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Off My Chest

by Stephen Lautens


March 23, 2001

Right off the bat I'll admit I'm unlikely to ever be a mother, although with advances in cloning techniques, never say never. I'll likewise admit that I'm also not an infant, although my behaviour would sometimes seem to indicate otherwise.

That being said, I recently had a startling breastfeeding incident.

Before the powerful breastfeeding lobby takes pen to paper and chastises me about the beauty - nay the right - of children to be fed whenever and wherever they get hungry, let me say I support breastfeeding in public. Long ago I got over otherwise shy friends and relatives flipping the top down without warning and giving the little nipper a spot of dinner.

I can even carry on a conversation with nursing mother, eyes firmly locked with a completely Anglo-Saxon refusal on my part to acknowledge that anything is going on south of her chin.

I'm not even sure my father ever saw my mother nurse us, but those were different days and he was of a decidedly delicate constitution.

In those days, a woman's chest was admired for its form rather than function. A recent study - probably sadly of dubious medical value - suggests that a solid ten minutes of admiring the female upper torso is equivalent to a 30-minute cardio workout for a man. If true, there are obviously a lot a men out there in better shape than they thought. Some might even qualify as professional athletes.

Today, motherhood is beautiful, and the patriarchy has no right to question or comment on the virtues of breastfeeding. For example, a report came out earlier this week suggesting that breastfeeding past four months may be bad for babies' arteries. It was immediately jumped on and denounced with the vigour usually reserved for people blowing up giant stone Buddhas.

So as a new millennium (or is that double zero?) kind of guy, my problem isn't with breastfeeding in public. My hat's off to anyone who wants to do it at a bus stop in Regina in February.

My problem is big babies - and I don't mean Bernard Landry. I'm talking about kids on the verge of getting their learners' permits still popping upstairs for a snack.

I was recently at a someone's home where a party was in progress. As we are all old married folks now, the parties themselves tend to be pretty tame. After all, no one is dumb enough to drink and drive anymore, and being married, we're all reasonably sure of who we'll be going home with.

In the middle of a conversation with the host, her three year old comes up and demands dinner. I'm thinking of offering the kid a cracker or some cheese, but as soon as I look up he's by-passed the hors d'oeuvres and gone straight to the main course.

If this kid was smaller I could have handled it in a calm, cool way. As a big kid who looked like he was only months away from shaving, I was at a complete loss.

All I can think is he's going to have a heck of a time packing a lunch when he heads off to college.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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