I went to a shopping centre with my liddleuns, not least to escape the heat but also to find some shoes for Mae. My brother’s wedding is imminent and Maple is one of two flower girls. The other lovely flower girl (fiancee’s niece) is apparently wearing cowboy boots so I feel I have to find something comparable for Mae. I HATE shopping centres. In fact, for the record, I truly hate shopping unless we’re talking antiques, vintage or markets. But there I was at Chadstone shopping centre. Hell of all hells. I popped into the usual kiddy shoe type places and the only cowgirlesque boots I could find were just unacceptably oversized. I’m prepared to put Maple in shoes that are too big. Yes I am. Provided she doesn’t slide around too much in there, I’m happy for her to grow into things, but these were just ridiculous. Maple was getting disproportionately excited about all the fairy dresses and what she describes as “ballerina dresses” in Cotton On Kids, Zeph was losing his cool and squealing for a feed, and I knew I had to get us somewhere mutually beneficial, pretty damn quickly before I became ‘that mother’. You know, the mother with the toddler kicking and screaming on the ground in full tantrum meltdown and the baby wailing uncontrollably and the mother looking like she might just melt into a puddle of tears on the floor. These are situations which can happen to us all and are to be avoided at all costs. Particularly when in a shopping centre where most stereotypes find their moment in the spotlight. Oh did I mention that it was a bank holiday and the place was literally a sea of mothers dragging their children from store to store, or indulging in some of the wopping serves of dumplings, sushi or pizza in the food court? Living the dream.
I found an island in the middle of the chaos. A fairly civilised cafe. I ordered a baby chino for Maple, and Zephyr ordered boob. Turns out this cafe specialises in chocolate, so Mae’s chino arrived with a huge chocolate teddybear lollypop. Nothing I could do about it. I’m all up for treats, but I do like to have a say in when or indeed, if, she should get them. But hell, it kept her still and quiet for five seconds. She sat so politely in her big girl’s chair and drank her chino and tenderly wolfed her choccie teddybear.
An aside: Might I add here my observations with respect to public breastfeeding thus far in Melbourne? I haven’t done a huge amount of it because with a teeny bub I have largely been at home or at friends’ houses. But when I have ventured out with Zeph to restaurants, cafes, playgrounds and dare I say it…shopping centres, I’ve noticed that people really do double-take at a breastfeeding mum. This wasn’t my experience in London at all. Even mums here seem to take a greater interest than I’m used to. I recall, shortly after arriving here, that Channel Seven host, David Koch, created quite an uproar when saying that he thought that breastfeeding mothers ought to be more discreet. This was following up on an incident in Queensland where a mother was told to move away from a public pool and to cover up when breastfeeding her baby. Koch reportedly said “you’ve got to be a bit classy about it.” Annoying git. Like we enjoy getting our baps out on the street. In my case, I also have a very fast milk let down and at the beginning of most feeds, I spray more milk into my baby’s face or a strategically placed muslin, than actually makes it down his gullet. Not great when trying to manage this in a public place. But that ought not prevent me from feeding my child for god’s sake. Look, now is not a time for a rant about red neck idiots who have an issue with women breastfeeding in public. They barely deserve a mention. I just thought it pertinent that here, I seem to receive a lot more attention feeding in public than I ever did in almost two years of breastfeeding in the UK. I’ve also noticed that other mums seem to use big shawls and special breastfeeding devices to cover up their child and mammaries when feeding. I tried one of those things once and Maple was not having it, and I couldn’t see what I was doing so the whole thing went to pot. Anyhoo, that’s that.
So I was sitting and feeding Zephyr and trying to contain a spray of milk from drowning him, whilst also not drawing attention to it by holding my boob into a muslin…oh the joys…when Maple asked permission to get down from the table to play. Her question was rhetorical. I couldn’t stop her. She walked up to the mother and teenage daughter at the table next to us, who, until now, had obviously thought Maple was pretty cute.
“I stink” she said.
Nobody was sure they had heard her correctly, me included. The mother said “what was that little one?”
Maple responded, “I stink. I’ve done a poo and I stink.”
The smile on their faces crumpled into polite puzzlement. I called Mae back over and whispered, “darling have you done a poo?” She said “no mummy.”
So why did you tell them that you had done a poo and that you stink?”
“I said I’d done a poo because I didn’t do a poo.” Jesus.
And so we enter the world of contradictions. “Maple would you like a peanut butter sandwich darling?”
“No thank you.”
“Ok, no worries, then we’ll have a ham an avocado sandwich.”
“No mummy, I want a peanut butter sandwich.”
“But you said you didn’t want a peanut butter sandwich?”
“I said I didn’t want a peanut butter sandwich because I do want a peanut butter sandwich.”
(Incidentally, I ended up buying Maple some wonderful wellies for the wedding from Cotton On Kids. A silvery gold with hot pink ribbons laced up the back. With rain forecast, they seemed a fun and practical choice and look utterly gorgeous with the stunning custom made flower girl dress.)