Self-Awareness: Misadventures in (Assumed) Parenting

TW childhood physical abuse

I was out having dinner with one of my godchildren and his mama. The toddler, who’s usually adorable in every way, was misbehaving; there’s no sugar coating it. His mama did her best but no dice. These things happen; we asked for the bill so we could leave and he could have the nap he obviously needed. Staff informed us someone had complained, we apologised and explained we were on our way because we agreed it was not acceptable behaviour.

Sidebar. Whenever it’s just the 3 of us out together, I’m assumed as the white dad to this mix race kiddo. It boggles the mind because apart from his being part-white we look nothing alike but cis-heteronormativity and racism do their thing./

[Picture by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash. Description: person sitting in a field, hands covering their bowed head.]

My friend went ahead with her kiddo while I got the colouring books, crayons and what not together. The elderly woman who complained waited until they had crossed the restaurant’s front door to tell me my godson needed a spanking and she would give it to him if I wouldn’t.

I didn’t mince words of how much I opposed her child abuse advocacy. Thank goodness my godson doesn’t know what happened, and that I was already on my way out. I didn’t give this elderly woman a chance to escalate.

It’s always upsetting to get unsolicited (assumed) parenting advice. But advocating for spanking, makes my blood boil.

[Picture by Whoislimos on Unsplash. Description: Man sitting on the edge of a bridge over a crowded urban street, looking down to the sidewalk.]

I remember growing up, virtually every time I was difficult, someone would wait until my mum was out of ear shot to tell my dad I should be spanked. My dad was opposed to physical punishment, so the “suggestion” led to nothing.

The assumption that if physical violence is to be dealt out, within a family headed by a cishet couple, it will be the dad who will deal it, has always baffled me. My dad is the only member of my family of origin who never hit me.

2nd Sidebar. The first time I brought up 1 of the female relatives who used to slap me, it took a single denial on her part for everyone to decide I had lied. Years later, she finally attacked me in front of others. Even so, the severity of what could have been was downplayed. Our relatives were more upset at the object that broke when it hit the wall, because I dodged when she launched it to my face./

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash
[Picture by Ryan Franco on Unsplash. Description: baby frowning while sitting on a picnic blanket in a park.]

It’s unsettling to be self-aware that had I not transitioned, nobody would assume I was one of my godson’s parents. As it is, I’m assumed that all the time. It’s disturbing that within that assumption is that I might be convinced to dispense spanking or other forms of physical violence towards children.

I ache when women cross the street at night to avoid walking by or in front of me. At the beginning of my transition, I wanted to shout out that they had nothing to fear, but instead, such moments made me question my transition. Not my gender (identity), but my visibility as a man, since it came with being a symbol of violence. Eventually I sorted out this was not the point to focus on in these sorts of moments.

The encouragement to spank children is worse. I’m not just a symbol of violence, it’s suggested that this is the correct thing for me to do, because I’m a man. Repulsive.

There’s nothing wrong with being a guy. There’s everything wrong with hitting children, regardless of who does it.

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