I am sitting with my baby in the waiting area of a well-known paediatrician. Normally he is quiet when we step out of the house but today he is a little cranky. I know he wants to be fed but the doctor can call us in anytime, so this is not the right time for his feeding. I am trying to calm him down while praying that the visit gets over quickly so that I can feed him. While I am in this dilemma whether to feed him or not, I caught the eye of a lady who is constantly staring at us, actually at my baby. I have seen this look before and I knew if I meet her gaze, she ‘ll start questioning. And I clearly was not in any mood to have a conversation. I avoided her but that didn’t stop her from looking and finally, when she couldn’t resist, she called me loudly and asked why my baby is so tiny and how old he is.
Not everyone heard her, but few people did and unfortunately the ones who heard also started looking at me expecting the answer. Honestly, I wanted to tell her off but couldn’t say anything. So I politely answered he is 3 months old and he was born prematurely. That’s why he looks tiny. I wanted to avoid further conversation, so I got occupied with my baby again. But that lady couldn’t stop staring. She then came and sat next to me and asked about my baby’s weight while staring at him. I was surprised by her behaviour and asked why does she want to know? She casually said she was curious because he looks tiny. I lost my cool now and politely but firmly asked her to mind her own business. She was little taken back but stopped further questions because she hadn’t expected such a reply. And others who were staring at me before now started staring at her. She went back to her place quietly.
This wasn’t the first time. People do stare at us, and without asking, they start giving advice on how to improve his weight, share stories of similar kids they know or give reassurances that everything will be fine. Honestly, I don’t need anyone’s advice apart from the doctor and absolutely no condolences. So usually I avoid such people because if I talk to them for long, I end up feeling guilty or sorry for myself which is not healthy for me or my baby.
But for the first time today, I didn’t feel bad when she questioned me. Instead, I felt good that I was able to shut her up. This made me realize that when I avoid people’s gaze, I unknowingly give them permission to stare, but If I confront them with such firmness, I can totally shut them up.
I do not know everything about parenting a premiee. I definitely need people’s advice and their support and I ask them when required. I also discuss the situation with other parents. That helps me in taking care of my child in better way.
But I can tell when someone genuinely wants to help and when they just want to know so that they can gossip. All help is acceptable but my kid is not a piece of gossip. In fact nobody’s child is a gossip material. So people should react reasonably in public if they are talking about someone’s child.
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