This morning I sat and watched this morning. There was a story entitled ‘Should crying babies be banned from cafes?”
What nonsense kind of question is that? I thought as I turned the volume up, in preparation to hate every single word I heard. I have to admit, it was a mix of opinions.
And Tonight I felt so compelled to respond. Hypothetically speaking:
Jane snuggles in a corner in a cafe; actually, let’s call it a coffee shop, it’s more Jane’s style. She’s tired and hungry and incredibly tired. She yawns and pulls her coffee cup, almost off the table but when she realises, she exclaims something nonsensical, gathers her thoughts and brings her cup to her mouth.
Mmm… she is so grateful for the this cafe, it’s literally downstairs and around the corner from home and they serve the best coffee. She doesn’t quite come here everyday, but she comes often enough. She’s new, to the area that is and to motherhood, but not to cafes, I mean, coffee shops.
Today, outside, it’s freezing, and of course it would be it’s February in London. The sounds of the rain battering the windows makes today’s visit extra special. I mean who doesn’t love the feeling of being nice, warm and cosy while the storm rages on outside?
Anyway, we are way off. Jane sips her warm coffee in peace for a while. But then, she’s ripped out from her moments of silence and sonder by the piercing cry of her 3 month old baby, who had been awake for a total of 3 minutes and 22 seconds without any attention. He decided that he didn’t like that much. He was hungry and mama had to know about it.
She smiled at him, for she was happy that he was awake. She often missed him when he slept and wanted to wake him up always. She smiled and did not notice the stares. If looks could kill, she’d have died with a knife in her back. She prepped herself for his feed and lifted baby up out of his pram.
Now, if her fellow patrons were bewildered by the sound of a crying baby, they were irate at said baby’s mother’s audacity to feed, breastfeed, him so publicly.
A single knife? I was being kind. These looks and stares would equate to the contents of a tool box. Still, Jane, so innocent and so sweet, would not have noticed if it was not for the balding fat man’s statement.
“For goodness sake, do you have to be so blatant? It’s rude and disgusting!”
He was sat right next to her, but he got up a walked to another table.
Poor Jane. A dagger to her heart. I know, nobody says dagger anymore, but it just sounded more… poetic than knife.
Jane looked around for someone to affirm her decision to feed her child in this way. She saw several people looking away on purpose; an older woman nodding to the balding man in agreement and a barista shaking his head and looking at no one in particular.
She was stung, she continued to feed, but she couldn’t help but feel awkward and uncomfortable. She pulled baby off, as soon as she could, shoved him back in his pram, cursed at the too short buckles, whipped her bag on and darted of into the rain.
The next time Jane visited a cafe, her little boy was four months old. She’d been working on building up her confidence again after the … incident.
She’d agreed to meet up with a friend, because by herself it was all too much. She packed a pouch of puréed food, just in case baby got hungry.
Luckily for her, he slept for most of the meet up. It was nice, she drank coffee, chatted and took some photos. It had been a while since she had met John, and it was even more exciting because he was having a baby soon too. She shared with him all of her tips, tricks, highs but not lows. She didn’t want to remember that day let alone talk about it.
Once again, baby awake and hungry begun to cry. I say cry, unfortunately though, this baby did more of a screech. Of course mama had learned her lesson from the first time; she took out the puréed bananas and offered it to baby.
His little lips bunch up and created a small O. The food reappeared, slowly, followed by his little tongue. He’d pushed it out and was enraged so he cried even louder.
Jane tried the bananas again. This time he wailed with the food sitting just under his tongue.
Jane looked at her friend John and told him she needed to go home. He scrunched up his eyebrows, “but I thought you were breastfeeding?”
She paused for a second. She was still breastfeeding, but surely she couldn’t be so rude and disgusting? Not again.
She looked around. It was a different cafe, coffee shop. The customers were a lot younger and perhaps more tolerant of the idea. Maybe?
However tolerant they may have been of breastfeeding in public we, not Jane, shall never find out. Because what happened next was an act so cruel, rude and disgusting – according to John that is.
A youngish, tanned girl, in a black apron walked over to Jane with the biggest smile on her face. It was a fake smile, just so we are clear.
She bent down to Jane… or to the child? It had to be the child because surely, no one, no one could be so patronising. And told her to get out of the shop immediately.
And although she didn’t quite say that, it felt that way to Jane, and to John.
What she did say though was that people were complaining about the baby’s crying and that Jane should do something about it so as to be considerate. She also said she didn’t mind watching Jane’s things while she stepped outside, if she needed.
Jane said she was sorry to John, sobbed a little while she ran out of the cafe. John chased after her and cussed about the a******* in the coffee shop and he walked her home. The baby, the star of the show, fell asleep on the short walk home,making everything seem pointless.
Jane spent the rest of the day, and the week and perhaps the next few months inside the house.
She resurfaced when she stopped feeding baby at six months. She looked so grateful for the light of the sun. She explained over coffee, with John’s wife Mary, that although she had hoped to breastfeed for a year, she was pleased that she was able to get back out and about without worrying.
Of course, Mary, who was due to have her baby any day now, took on this worry. Goodness knows whether she went on to breastfeed at all.