Most babywearing manufacturers are adamant that swimming is not something you should be doing while babywearing. If it was something that ever came up, swimming in a shark-infested tank would definitely be high on the verboten list. However, a family wedding is, essentially, a shark-infested evening, complete with a pair of shoes that cut into your feet and canapes. Frankly, I wouldn’t dream of leaving my sling behind, no matter how many sharks there are. Sharks are one thing, a tired heavy baby is an altogether different danger.
Family weddings are dangerous. We all know this. Family weddings are the coral reefs of our social lives: vibrant, colourful, dependent on weather patterns and full of creatures with an insatiable desire to attack weaker prey. You need to be aware of how you can be in danger during this event and how to protect yourself. To this end, I have compiled a list of some of the most common strategies employed by the sharks in this habitat and offered some advice on how you can deal with them.
Danger #1: When they attack from behind
They circle in silently, grey faced and grim; intent on their prey: YOU. Then, when you least expect it BAM! They grab your carrier as you’re trying to get your little one on your back, give a yank and you end up slipping a disc trying to stop the baby from landing on its head.
Statistics show that 99.9% of relatives are invariably well meaning. So, whenever they see a poor soul “struggling” with any sort of carrier, they circle in to help. Without telling you, they grab anything that looks like it ought to be grabbed. We all know how dangerous this can be. The reason for this curious behaviour is really quite simple, they never had “those things” in “their days”. (Looms, apparently, are a new invention!) They’re interested, that’s all.
The only way to protect yourself is to either swim in a school (i.e. have your partner or a trustworthy person designated as a sentry) or, to get your child onto your back with your back against the wall or an item of furniture. Be aware of this kind of sneak attack- vigilence or a safe place to toss the baby is your only hope!
Danger #2: The feeding frenzy
This is when there’s a group of them, each taking a bite from the victim one at a time. It goes something like this:
Shark One: “Ohhh, I’ve never seen that before, where did you get it?”
Shark Two: “Aren’t you worried that he/she will never learn to crawl/walk/solve differential equations if you use that thing?”
Shark Three: “Oh, I’m sure he/she will learn to [insert vital milestone here] in spite of that contraption! But doesn’t it hurt your back?”
Shark One: “Oh, I’m sure his/her back is fine. It’s a young back. But you won’t be able to do that for much longer!”
Shark Two: “So how many of those things do you have?”
Shark Three: “More than one?! My goodness, we are a hedonistic, narcissitic, consumerist spendthrift, aren’t we?”
And so on.
Protecting yourself in these circumstances is difficult, as you’re being mauled one bite at a time. There are only two options: fight or flight.
The flight option goes something like this: move very quickly away from the school of sharks while saying over your shoulder, “Oh, dear, nappy to change, must go, you’re absolutely right, everyone else is a better parent than me and my children will almost certainly drop out of highschool/do drugs/become inveterate criminals but I’d like to cuddle them as much as possible before their inevitable death by firing squad in a small despotic African nation.”
The fight option requires you to stand your ground and punch the sharks in the nose one at a time. To take our example above, the correct response is: “On the internet. No. No. As long as we both want to. Lots. Yes and bite me.”
Your preferred strategy is, of course, up to you.
Danger #3: A stealthy predator
This situation means you don’t know you’re being attacked until the bite has been taken. The mauling occurs as disguised praise of another (innocent) relative who is parenting children. The upshot is either (a) because you’re doing it differently, you’re doing it wrong or (b) because you’re doing it differently, they’re doing it wrong and are therefore a bad parent, how could you say such a thing about Cousin Jackie?
No matter how often you explain that you’re doing it differently not better and that what works for your kids doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else’s; your sling, your stroller (or your lack of a stroller), your cot (or your lack of a cot), your cloth nappy (or your disposable or your lack of nappies altogether), your bottle or the fact that you have a breast which lactates is, inevitably a black mark (or a string of them) against you. There is only one option.
Shark fin soup.
Who loves a family wedding? Leave a comment and let us know!