Public Holiday

October 1 this year was a day of celebration for millions of people commemorating the end of Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah. In my neck of the woods, October 1 had a billion people celebrating National Day of the People’s Republic of China.

Public Holidays in Hong Kong are sort of like Sundays for my household. The nanny is off duty. We wake up late (8:00 am) and Hub and I spend a good part of the morning trying to stick the other with childcare duties by hiding out in the bathroom or by sneaking in some time online. But after my eldest son has been allowed to watch too much T.V. and we adults feel sufficiently guilty, we muster up the courage to turn it off. Then, Hub and I stare blankly at each other. I know the question that is going to follow.

“What do you have planned for us today?” He will ask.

Now, I am not a party planner, social engagement coordinator or a secretary. I am not Julie McCoy. But, it’s a public holiday, so I'll be festive.

“Let’s go to Toys R Us.” I surprise myself with this suggestion. I mean, the US economy is crashing, the future is uncertain and I really hate shopping but I really, really hate going out among the flood of people—elbow to elbow— when it is sweltering and on this day so polluted that one hour outside causes my chest to feel tight.

For some reason Hub agrees and we set off to Toys R Us in Kowloon. This will require taking two ferries. We miss the first ferry and have to wait. Hub suggests that we go inside our local café. Good idea. We cautiously walk in and spy a table. Hub gives me that familiar nod and rushes off in one direction while I take off to the other. We reach the table, just as a couple is about to move in on it. One swerve of the stroller by Hub seals the deal, the table is ours.

The couple watch us with contempt as we decamp: two strollers, Hub’s giant back pack (don’t ask me why), my extra large bag, eldest son’s (ES) stick that he brought from outside, a baby carrier, and a newspaper. We spread this out over two tables. ES starts kicking the chair of the customer next us and baby is now awake from his nap, crying that nonstop newborn cry.

In moments like these, I leave my body. I look down on my family. I see us the way other people must see us.

We are parents of two young children. Like all parents with two or more young children, we are pariahs. We over propagated. Our precious little loves are actually brats, too loud and too spoiled. As a group, we parents of two or more young children are to be avoided. Get stuck sitting next to us on a plane, train, or even a ferry and well, you must either move or complain, pointedly and under your breath.

And it is not just the single people or the couples with out children who hate us two and over families, it is other parents too. The parents of older children or one child or the people who have managed to leave their young children behind—these are parents who are annoyed at us for reminding them what their lives look like when they are out in public with their own kids.

But let’s change all of this hate.

Next October 1st, let’s celebrate the folks that I call parents or the parent of the young two or more (PYTOM). Think of it as a day designated to getting clipped on the ankle by a stroller, having some snotty nose kid turn around in his seat to watch you eat, or to having your ear drums pierced by the cry of a baby, or to witnessing hand to hand combat between siblings. On this special day, the childless, the parents of older children or of one child could remember that once us PYTOM, we were just like you.

No comments: