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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Is That What 'Baby Bump' Means?

An incident this morning prompted me to write a status update in Facebook, and when I checked my account again, I got a comment from my friend Chris asking me if may pinaghuhugutan (I am drawing this from something specific). I was also surprised to see people liking the post because I was sure what I wrote was a shoo-in for the Anti-Social pile so I was (pleasantly) surprised.

Don't be fooled: This is a weapon.
(Cortesy of

The particular incident: I was walking back to our building when a car pulls up the driveway and unloads a mom with a baby in her arms, as well as three other (older) children and two maids. Now, the walkway in our building isn't a particularly large one (like most walkways in this country) but four people could walk side by side, just to give you an idea of the width.

She proceeds to dump their bags, a stroller and various boxes, and takes up about 90% of the walkway width. Her chidren are running around, up and down the walkway into the car driveway, with the maids running after them. Her baby is on her right arm, and with her other arm outstretched, she begins giving "commands" to the maids (barely listening to her lest the children get run over by passing cars on the driveway) as to where the things go.

The building residents had to "squeeze through" the remaining 10% width space because she seemed oblivious to the blockage her things caused. Bad enough that she had no sense of decency to at least place her things on one side of the walkway and acted like it was her property.

But you know there's more.

I proceeded to the lobby to catch the lift. For a mid-morning, I was surprised that I was the only one waiting for the elevator on a weekend. (Maybe everyone had an early start?) I pressed the Up button and waited in front of the car that was going down the fastest. Already, I could hear the mom's footsteps and braced myself for the loud cries of an infant. One of her maids was bringing her other things (a large bag and a plastic bag) so she only had the infant in her arms.

I suddenly felt something bump the back of my head, first from the back of my head to the side, and then from the side to the back again: it was her baby's head.

Yes, a baby's head. In her attempt to give last minute instructions to her help, she flung the infant to and fro, making contact with my head, which, expectedly, caused the baby to let out a cry.

She had to stand beside me in an empty lobby. Not content with blocking the walkway, she now wants to invade my personal space. Not content with that, she tried to get more space by using her baby's head as a weapon.

I'm sure no one is holding their breath for an apology. That's the thing: I'm not most people.

I turned to her, and said "Excuse me?" and gave her a look that suggested that she was a cannibal who feasted on human babies. It was "only then" that she realized that she was standing too close to me, she said sorry in a volume that not even a cat could hear, and "attempted" to move a few inches away from me. Emphasis on "attempted" because she was really just making an empty gesture, pakitang tao (for show) as we say in the vernacular, as if to say, "There! I moved! Will that shut you up?"

Since when did having babies and children become the free pass to act obnoxious, devoid of manners and bereft of respect for other people's space?

News flash: You're not pregnant anymore. You can't use your mood swings, your extra weight, the swollen toes, and everything else that comes with pregnancies as your free card for priority. And I know many women who are pregnant and who also manage to keep their manners intact - if anything, they apologize too much for being a "bother" to other people - so I can't think of a reason why someone who willfully decides to bring her child out for whatever reason should be given some kind of "royal treatment", that they can block entire walkways and bump people from behind and think they should have some perverted license to do so.

My work takes me to the malls often, and I have seen women using their baby strollers as battering rams to get a better slot in lines or to block people's right of way - probably thinking that having babies is the ultimate trump card. And what gets me everytime is the sense of entitlement they assume - if they "happen" to run their stroller straight over someone else's toes, you'd be lucky to get an apology: they have a look that says don't bother challenging me, I'm with child.

If you can't practice etiquette where your own body and space are concerned, what right do you have being responsible for another human being, imposing on her or him your sense of right and wrong, one that is clearly out of whack?

If you do not have enough decency to practice good manners where others are present, what makes you think you are fit to coach a child on how to go about the world?

If you think you are somehow "entitled" to be rude just because you happen to lug around your offspring, what business do you have teaching them to be the best they can be when you are the epitome of expecting things for doing nothing?

Being a parent doesn't give you the license to be a d*ck or b*tch. I said it in my Facebook status, and I'll say it again: What you have is a child, not a lobotomy.

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