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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.



One of the weird things about being underemployed is that if you are out and about in the city, you encounter an entire eco-system - or subculture of people you really didn't even know existed: yuppy moms.

These are fairly well-off (or well-off looking) moms wearing the latest in new mom attire, with huge-ass strollers or buggies (sorry, but I hate them) with impeccably dressed little ones. They meet in clusters at the starbucks, and seem so damned happy to get to spend time with other adults, as their wee ones run crazy around the store, or scream their heads off (okay, some times they are very well behaved - it's the annoying ones that stick in memory).

I watch them, and I wonder about the effects of these huge-ass strollers. Sometimes multiple children are shoved into them - and these are often kids who are definitely old enough to walk. So, I worry about how much they are allowed to walk - or made to walk. I worry too about the babies as it seems as though there is something important about things like snuglies (or however they are spelled) in terms of bonding and attachment. And I can't help but worry about the effects of these huge-ass strollers on language development, as the children in them are never talked to. Sometimes the mom is on her cell or listening to an ipod ... and I get that sometimes a break is necessary .. and sometimes those strollers can be the best way to put a fussy baby to sleep ... but what worries me is that 99% of the moms (in certain areas of the city) I see out and about have their kids in these things. I think it would be an interesting research area.

Of more concern is a group of kids I see sometimes as I go to school in the mornings. There are 4 kids aged maybe 3-9, two young teenaged girls - and a couple slightly older kids (like 10 or 11). The youngest ones are definitely being abused. And the older girls are definitely abusing them - and likely others are too (I sure as hell hope there are some adults in this family, but I've never seen them). The little ones are a handful, that's for sure - they need some discipline - of the right kind. What worries me so much is that when one of the older girls moves quickly near them or raises a hand (sometimes to smack, sometimes just to do something else), the little ones duck, cover their heads, jerk back - all completely automated responses. These are responses to being beaten.

And it worries me too because these are not cute kids. They are difficult, too skinny, and their faces too asymmetrical - they are not the kind of kid that will endear adults to want to help and support and encourage them.

There are three other girls who worry me too. They were on the same bus this morning, and I have seen them before. They were with some sort of caregiver - it's not clear if she is a mom or someone else - but she transports them. She is clearly very very invested in the older girl, who is about 8. She talks to her, hugs her, touches her affectionately - it's clear she adores her. It's also clear the other two girls are related to the older girl - so the antipathy she seems to exhibit toward the younger two isn't (I think) because they are not related to her whereas the older one is. It's something else. Twice now I have seen the youngest in pretty imminent danger, and the woman did nothing.

Last week, the littlest one was sitting right next to me. She is maybe 3 or 4 - she is tiny. On the other side of her was a huge man - maybe 300-400 pounds. He kept falling asleep (which I have a weird reaction to on public transport - it disgusts me when people fall asleep on the bus or train), and you know what happens when many men fall asleep? Yup, they start falling over. So, every time he would fall asleep, he would start falling over on top of her. Luckily he kept waking himself up before he touched her - but it scared me. I would have done something if he got too close - but the mom-type person paid no attention whatsoever. She didn't even seem to care that her little one was sitting by a strange man, much less that he might fall over on her.

Then today, on the bus the littlest one kept hanging on the back doors. They can open really easily! And she was just hanging on them, and the mom-type person did nothing. Several of us on the bus were transfixed. That's the good thing about this little girl - she is the type who will inspire helpful responses from other adults around her. She is very lucky and it sadly speaks to something that will likely prove to be a huge resilience factor for her, and which may be hugely detrimental for the others.

It's so sad to see kids with so many odds stacked against them already.


At 12:04 PM, Blogger Anastasia said...

before i had Kizzy, a hippie mama friend of mine told me something. she said, strollers are okay but there's only so much molded plastic the kid can bond with, you know?

yeah. I know.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger k8 said...

The SUV strollers are horrible, but I think that the automated kiddy cars are worse. What ever happened to pedals and Big Wheels? I worry more about those kids, since they are obviously old enough to have the motor skills to walk.

But yeah, it seems like that if you have your kid in a stroller that you should be paying attention to him/her. If the child isn't sleeping, it would be a nice chance to chat about the things you see around you.


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