Friday, October 13, 2006

CALIFORNIA civil code, section 43.3

I am so angry right now I can barely see the keyboard. Perhaps, like driving, I should put blogging off while feeling so emotional. Or I have another idea - perhaps you could share my outrage and join in my indignance!
In my working life, part of my job is to teach happy music and dance classes to small tykes, who are accompanied by their parents. The happy music part is why I did not teach for a long time after Elijah died. Singing happy music to other kids right after my kid died was not very happy.
So now I have thrown myself back in to that arena for the last seven months - sometimes the music is happy, and sometimes it is silly, and sometimes it is hard for the teacher who remembers singing a lullaby to a baby that is now gone, and it is tearful.
But never before has it been raunchy!
Today I was asked to meet with a director at the rec center where I teach, as a parent had withdrawn from class dissatisfied. Of course I wanted to hear why - I am not above improvement and was hoping for some constructive criticism about me or one of my teachers. I was told that the parent had withdrawn her son from MY class, after her son was (AND I QUOTE) "traumatized by seeing the teacher's boobies". And apparently, according to this mother, her son also ran around the house in a trauma-induced stupor, chanting 'teacher boobies, teacher boobies' all week.
Oh sure - have a laugh and then compose yourself, because this is hardly funny.
Translation: Her 3 year old son witnessed my son breastfeeding during the lullaby at the end of class.
The director went on to inform me, that while she of course wanted to hear 'my side' of 'the incident', she had already discussed this with the supervisor and they 'decided' that I 'can no longer breastfeed in class'.
And that is when the shit hit the fan. First thing I did was whip one out to feed the little man, who was feeling my angst and feeling a bit peckish. And then I looked her in the eye and said, "No."
"No?" was her quick echo.
"No. As in 'No, I will not stop breastfeeding my child in class'. I am inflexible about that. Period."
And then the conversation went on, with me explaining how I had worn a nursing shirt and a nursing bra, and the physical impossibility of unhooking both sides at once. And she exclaimed, "Oh - I didn't know you had a bra on! I just had to follow up on the complaint!"
At which point I just went jaw-agape and asked her why we were having this conversation, as I was confused why I was having to even explain to this woman that I was wearing a bra! And the full impact of being told by two women that I 'could not breastfeed' in this public place was starting to hit me. And I was not happy.
I am - on an airplane or in a restaurant - a militant breastfeeder. Five years ago, a man across the aisle from me on the plane we were sharing suggested that I nurse 'back there in one of the empty rows'. I told him to go ahead and move back there since he was obviously uncomfortable (as he stared at my breast). But when I am teaching I try to maintain some sort of sensitivity toward the masses. I purchased ugly nursing clothes to try and make the baby happy and still be discreet as all eyes were turned toward me. Do I care if they see me nursing? No. But they may not want a full frontal. So I try and make the breastfeeding discreet. Because that's just the kind of person I am.
For the record, the complaining mom also claimed that she was concerned that having my own child in class could potentially distract me from teaching, neglecting to mention that my own child has a nanny in class who takes him out as needed and that he was not even in class until the very end last week (accompanied by said nanny). So she has some issues with fabrication, as well as 'boobies'. And also for the record, my children acknowledge them as 'breasts'.
Upon returning home I felt compelled to send the director and supervisor an email expressing how disappointed I was in her support of a prejudiced position, and added the following content:

Cal. Civil Code § 43.3 (1997) allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. (AB 157)

Also, when I got home, I took off my shirt and my bra, danced around flappin for awhile, then asked my baby if he wanted some nasty sexy mama boobie juice.
Because that's just the kind of person I am.



candy said...

I am incensed for you!

Breastfeeding is the most natural of choices. For me it was an easier choice to make than the one to have children in the first place. My daughter is 16 now and I used to breasfeed her in the mall, back before such civil codes existed. And I would make eye contact with everyone, just daring them to challenge me.

I'm so sorry that someone had the nerve to make you feel uncomfortable about feeding your child. Assholes.

Lin said...

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...the sound of being traumatized. I cannot imagine that this kind of crap still goes on, might I add especially in your neck of the woods.

I wasn't a militant nurser, but I would have shot milk in anyone's face (from some distance I might add proudly), if there had been this reaction to feeding a baby, anywhere, when that baby was hungry.

Unbelieveable...and what kind of weird environment is this other (obviously still young because of the class he takes) child being raised in if he is so discombobulated by nursing? I'm curious.

gwendomama said...

BTW, my SIL mentioned that she was traumatized by the 'crusties' on his face - the 'crusties' are the lovely white sand of mauna kea beach. it was a blissful and sand covered nursy-nap.

Karianna said...

Wow. Just, wow. (And I love the ending photo: beautiful, not traumatic!)

nakedjen said...

i had to come and post this for you. here.

Would you nurse him in the park?
Would you nurse him in the dark?
Would you nurse him with a Boppy?
And when your boobs are feeling floppy?

I would nurse him in the park,
I would nurse him in the dark.
I’d nurse with or without a Boppy.
Floppy boobs will never stop me.

Can you nurse with your seat belt on?
Can you nurse from dusk till dawn?
Though she may pinch me, bite me, pull,
I will nurse him `till she’s full!

Can you nurse and make some soup?
Can you nurse and feed the group?
It makes him healthy strong and smart,
Mommy’s milk is the best start!

Would you nurse him at the game?
Would you nurse him in the rain?
In front of those who dare complain?
I would nurse him at the game.
I would nurse him in the rain.

As for those who protest lactation,
I have the perfect explanation.
Mommy’s milk is tailor made
It’s the perfect food, you need no aid.

Some may scoff and some may wriggle,
Avert their eyes or even giggle.
To those who can be cruel and rude,
Remind them breast’s the perfect food!

I would never scoff or giggle,
Roll my eyes or even wiggle!
I would not be so crass or crude,
I KNOW that this milk’s the perfect food!

We make the amount we need
The perfect temp for every feed.
There’s no compare to milk from breast-
The perfect food, above the rest.

Those sweet nursing smiles are oh so sweet,
Mommy’s milk is such a treat.
Human milk just can’t be beat.

I will nurse, in any case,
On the street or in your face.
I will not let my baby cry,
I’ll meet his needs, I’ll always try.
It’s not about what’s good for you,
It’s best for babies, through and through.

I will nurse him in my home,
I will nurse him when I roam.
Leave me be lads and ma’am.
I will nurse him, Mom I am.

because i haven't been able to STOP thinking about this particular post.

i also hope you've calmed down and that e is feeling better. if he's not, maybe i can help? call me.

nakedjen said...

oh. and i also think you need to vote in this contest.

and maybe print a few of those out and take them with you to your classes!

Ellie said...

THANK YOU for doing what is right. I often wonder if someone will make a comment to me when I am breastfeeding in public, and I am afraid that in the moment I will be so horrified that I won't know what to say. Hearing stories like yours where you defend your right with confidence gives me more confidence that should the occation arise I will be able to handle it well. I hope it doesn't ever happen to me, as it shouldn't happen to anyone. It is sad that a mother even HAS to worry about feeding their child. What does this mean to our future mamas, who might be too afraid to NIP (nurse in public) so they will decide not to give their child the best start in life, breastmilk?

And it's all so silly, anyhow. Come on people, it's a breast! And you can usually barely see it when nursing anyway. Teenagers show more "boobie" than I do when I nurse. Anyhow.. thank you for sharing your story. I hope you are able to educate those people you work with and continue singing songs and breastfeeding your child.

Barbara said...

Can you go it solo (your teaching career)? I am outraged that your supervisors legitimized one ridiculous person's hang-ups.

Perhaps the loss you suffered gives you strength to defend your life (and your child's) as it should be lived.

Glad to hear you "just said No!"

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry. Anyone who has a problem with a mother nursing a sweet baby is an asshole.

DamiansMommy said...

When I first had my baby, I was always making sure no one was looking, but I got used to nursing in public. Now when I nurse, I do it like if I was giving him a bottle, no shame. You did what was right. Breastfeeding is so beautiful, especially when those big beautiful eyes look up at you...

Anonymous said...

Just FYI in case you are planning to sue - California Civil Code does not allow you to breast feed while working - you can take a "break" and breast feed, but it requires you to take a break.

I had an employee who had her child brought to her to breast feed everyday - several times a day, which is fine.

But the fact that I was supposed to then also go watch her smoke 4 times a day was not. We ended up letting her go because she said it wasn't time off to breast feed, she needed breaks too. She tried to sue us and it was thrown out in preliminaries...

Anonymous said...

I'm all for breastfeeding at appropriate times during work, but aren't you supposed to take breaks as the other anonymous poster said? Little kids ARE immature and will make a big deal out of teacher boobies. They're KIDS. An adult should be mature enough to realize this and do the good deed of breastfeeding during BREAKS, not work. That's my opinion.