Iím late with this one, but here it is. I keep bumping into this argument over breastfeeding in public.
The most recent spat occurred when a flight attendant booted a breastfeeding mother off of a plane.
The national news outlets picked up the story and, shortly thereafter, we were off and running with protests and arguments and all manner of hyperventilating over the whole situation.
By even a casual sampling of the news these days, one can find plenty of other topics better suited for a full-out row. A few of these might include the fact that weíre involved in a bloody and divisive war. That our nationís energy policy seems to be best summarized by the words "Weíll think about it tomorrow." That our borders make the Titanicís hull seem positively watertight. That our kids are dropping out of school at an alarming rate. And that weíre not taking child molesters and dropping them off in the dead of winter - naked and unarmed would be my preference - somewhere north of Mt. McKinley.
Still, despite all of the above, weíre ready and willing to raise a ruckus about feeding babies as nature intended.
Lord love a duck.
Admittedly, Iím from the side of the species that doesnít pack the gear that generates all of this commotion. Still, I do remember some of my biology classes and have helped raise three formerly breastfed kids to adulthood.
I believe that this background has given me a rudimentary understanding of the function of the female breast which is, in essence, to feed babies. And, if anyone doubts that, as Yogi Berra once said, "You could look it up."
OK, so letís assume that weíre in a public place. Letís further assume that thereís a mother nearby with a very hungry infant. Finally, letís assume that that mother has chosen to and is fully capable of breastfeeding that infant.
Is there a dilemma here? Is there some problem that only Solomon on his best day could solve?
Possibly, but only if everyone involved has lost sight of words like courtesy, kindness, and consideration.
Itís been my experience that the vast majority of breastfeeding mothers do not want to put on a display akin to naval vessels refueling at sea. That would be where a very "hungry" small vessel comes alongside a tanker with flags fluttering, signal lights blinking, and bands playing.
Shortly thereafter, when both vessels have settled into their appropriate positions, out comes all of the necessary gear, the smaller vessel plugs in, and refueling begins with everyone nearby straining to see whatís going on.
As I said, Iíve just not come across many women whoíd just "let it all hang out" and begin feeding in front of all and sundry. Almost all do it quietly and with as little commotion as possible.
For the rest of us nearby, this should cause no problem. What, especially in this age of electronic isolation, would be so difficult about busying ourselves with something other than staring?
Donít have an iPod, Blackberry, laptop, videogame, cell phone, etc.? Then read a book. Do a crossword. Watch the world go by. Good grief, just find something else to capture your attention.
While youíre so occupied, a baby can be fed and, during that process, Iím betting that the sun will continue to shine, rivers will continue to flow, and billions of people worldwide will be completely unaware that anything has happened.
Granted, there might be a child nearby who sees whatís happening and - being curious - asks a parent, "Whatís that lady doing?"
Should that happen, hereís a response that Cora Wells, my maternal grandmother, used when I asked the same question.
"Sheís feeding her baby. Now, mind your manners and donít you be staring."
Iíve been warned that both sides of this subject have fierce supporters and that Iíll likely be pummeled roundly for broaching this topic.
Fine, but I still canít see the reason for all of the uproar.
Rather than getting ourselves sideways over this "issue," we might try to remember several things.
Darned if those things werenít put there for a purpose. Darned if babies donít get hungry at their, and not our, convenience. Darned if we shouldnít grant a mother some privacy and allow her to feed that child Ė even in a public place Ė rather than listen to it wail.
Just seems so easy as long as everyone remembers to be kind, courteous, and considerate.