Having talent doesn’t make you a role model. Nor should it.


People who know me well will be very surprised that I’m including baseball in today’s blog post – because, honestly, I’m so over baseball. True, I’ve enjoyed attending games during our various road trips – but that’s mainly due to the exciting atmosphere of a ball park. Oh, and the hotdogs and cotton candy. The game itself kinda bores me, and people talking about it is even more tiresome. This normally isn’t a problem. My girlfriends usually don’t talk sports, and the men in my life know enough to limit it to one or two sentences when they just can’t control themselves. Now that the Toronto Blue Jays are on a dream dash in the direction of the World Series, however, I can’t escape the game or the talk, and it’s driving me crazy. (This dark confession could lead to calls for the revocation of my Canadian citizenship, but I’ll take that risk for the sake of this blog post.)

Yesterday morning, Ryan and I were sitting in the parking lot, avoiding the trek to the office by listening to a couple of guys mumbling on the radio. Ok, so Ryan probably heard them talking about sports, as it was TSN 1200 Ottawa – but I the sound I heard resembled Charlie Brown’s teacher. I perked up when I heard a voice complaining about José Bautista’s now-famous celebratory bat toss. This act has attracted pearl-clutching from a few directions, including whoever-it-was I heard whining through our car speakers. According to the haters, Bautista flipping that bat was cocky, tacky and dangerous. Personally, I don’t see it as a big deal. So it was a little reckless …. However, the man is a member of a team that just knocked out another team 6-3 on their way to the World Series. His entire country is cheering for him. This may just be the dizzy peak of his baseball career, and it is something all the little Jays fans of today will grow up talking about. In a moment like that, you don’t look around to see who might get clipped by your jazz hands – you freak out!

Justification aside, what really steams my broccoli is all the talk of role models. “Little kids who play baseball want to grow up to be just like José Bautista. What are they supposed to think of his behaviour? Blah, blah, blah …. he is a role model.”  (The last two words are spoken at a volume only dogs can hear, with the regard typically reserved for Jesus, Mother Theresa and people’s grandmothers.) The problem is that he’s not a role model. He’s just a guy who’s really good at baseball. All pro sports people are exactly that: people who are good enough at their game to make a living playing it. Pop stars are just people who are (in most cases) marginally good at singing and dancing, and may know how to play an instrument passably.  Actors are just …. well, actors. Politicians are …. um, does anyone really know what politicians are? Anyway, you get my drift. People in the public eye are not there because they boast outstanding character. They are there because they are famous, and they are famous because at some point they’ve outperformed somebody at something.

Fiona and Bridget are ten and eight. They are both big fans of pop music. This means they listen to material of varied quality by people of questionable quality. Sometimes, these people behave very badly. This doesn’t bother me at all. Why? Because they are pop stars, not priests or teachers or childcare providers. If they do something that requires a side-eye, we give it to them, and then we talk about it. Fiona and Bridget know that stars are only human, and that their music is what they offer – nothing more. Parents are in charge of the message and how it is received. Calling someone a role model just because they’ve become famous is silly, and unfair to a person who’s just living their life. Raise your own kids, and be a role model yourself. Let stars live their lives as they please.


The Straight Poop on Changing Diapers in Public


There can be no doubt that many parents are becoming more and more entitled these days. They are caught (and complained about) committing a multitude of sins. (Want proof? Check out http://www.stfuparentsblog.com/ for plenty of examples, and a laugh while you’re at it ….)

A growing number of women don’t just give birth, they want to craft a birthing experience. Everyone speaking in soft tones while they squeeze out the screamer into a kiddie pool on their bedroom floor, in the presence of their entire clan – plus a few good friends and a midwife and a doula and maybe the mailman – is actually a fairly mild demand. I’ve read accounts of women attempting to give birth among dolphins because dolphins offer peace, strength and healing to the mother. Dolphins also sometimes kill other animals just for sport, but let’s not focus on the negative …. Some parents expect the whole street to hold its breath while their darling is napping. They want a posh breastfeeding lounge in every establishment larger than a gas station. A few of them will call the police if a person not attached to a child is – gasp – lingering in the park. And then there are the parents who want everyone to keep the park as clean as their own home because food on the ground might cause an allergic reaction. Never mind watching your child to keep them from eating off the ground if it’s that big of a problem – everyone else ought to work around you! Oh, and that hundred-year-old nut-bearing tree that most people love? That should be cut down (we all read that story) because acorns are, apparently, a bullying tool and a public safety issue. Some parents don’t bother to discipline their children in public, and then pull out the huffy, wounded well-I-never when someone who’s tired of their brats being brats shoots them a dirty look. These same parents also believe they can – and should – go everywhere with the little one, and that any place they go must have everything they need at all times. Like Candice Pouliotte.

Back in August, Pouliotte, her two small children and her grandparents went to Kelly’s Landing Restaurant in Manotick for lunch. She noticed there was no change table in the washroom. She asked the waitress about changing the baby on a dining room table. The waitress said she could. Yes, this happened. An adult of sound mind – who is even responsible for two other human beings – asked if she could open her baby’s feces-filled diaper on an eating surface and replace it with a fresh one. Another adult of sound mind who serves food to the public said that’s fine.

Pouliotte proceeded with the diaper change. When the understandably horrified owner, Dan Dunbar, approached her, they exchanged words and she left. Then, she returned to the restaurant to explain her position to Dunbar. I don’t know how the second conversation went, but this doesn’t seem like something you can talk someone around to. “On second thought, you’re absolutely right – the people eating lunch here probably didn’t mind smelling your baby’s scat, and it’s really not that big of a deal if I serve someone lunch on the table where your baby’s ass was resting five minutes ago.” Dunbar says he was shocked by Pouliotte’s actions.

This incident sparked fierce online debate (like pretty much everything else these days, because we all live on the internet). Speaking with the CBC, Pouliotte defended her position. “As a paying customer and being a mother, I think that telling someone to leave a restaurant to change a child is treating them like a second-class citizen or worse,” she said.”A child shouldn’t have to sit in a soiled diaper while you eat your dinner or have your lunch. I think that if any business is open during daytime hours, that this should be a standard.”

Yes, Pouliotte, you’re right – no babies should sit in dirty diapers while everyone else enjoys their meal. Thing is, though, nobody’s saying they should – what people are saying is that the dirty diaper doesn’t belong on a freakin’ dining room table. Which really shouldn’t be something anyone has to say …. And suggesting that you are being treated like a second class citizen when you are asked to take your kid’s solid waste out of a restaurant dining room is ridiculous. In fact, by changing a diaper on a dining room table, you’re actually putting yourself in a class above everyone else. Not only are you showing no regard for other people’s dining experience or the restaurant owner, but you are doing something that is unacceptable for anyone to do. The idea that any business open during daytime hours should have a change table is ludicrous. Any business? Convenience stores? Banks? Law offices? Garages? Pouliotte seems to be a master of magnification.

Ryan and I have done our share of diaper duty. When Fiona was two, just after Bridget was born, we were changing up to a dozen diapers a day. We love to eat out, and we love to travel. We have travelled extensively with our children since they were born. We have changed diapers on our laps, on the grass, on benches, in parking lots, on the hood and seats of our car, on counters next to sinks, on floors of all descriptions (houses, restaurants, malls), in doctor’s offices. I once changed a diaper on a standing baby in a closet-sized washroom in Juarez, Mexico, because there literally was no surface large enough to lay her down. Know where we’ve never changed a baby? A dining room table, public or private. Never. Why? Because that’s disgusting.

Since January 1 of this year, Ontario law has required newly-built larger restaurants to have a family washroom with a changing table. This is good news – it will be easier than ever for families to dine out in comfort. Older buildings without them are not required to install them. This is as it should be. Having babies is a lifestyle choice, and business owners should not have to carry the heavy cost of renovating their restaurant just because you’ve chosen to breed. If a restaurant owner sees enough of a need – or enough of a revenue drop – to justify upgrading their facilities, great. If not, either put up with the inconvenience of getting creative about diaper changes, or take your money elsewhere. Whatever you decide to do, keep the fecal matter off the table. Even if the only thing you care about is your child, consider the bad example you’re setting by acting like the world is your trash can.