As previously discussed, people have varying reactions when I walk outside with my children. Today I was meeting my wife and daughter at a movie theater. My wife asked to spend more time with Glow away from Arrow, as they’ve all been trapped together all summer.
I was responsible for watching my son for the length of the movie, which is a responsibility that grows easier over time, but right now is down to my son’s temperament. He was exceptionally well behaved today, so he and I went for a walk around the neighborhood while my wife and daughter left to see their movie. The new red clay walking paths have been completed in my neighborhood, so I took the stroller along the shaded path to get some exercise and put my son to sleep.
Walking to the movie theater we’d run into old people on the trail. Elderly Korean people will just stare or state everything they think to the air because their filter for commenting on the world is non-existent. Old, hunched over ladies would walk by and say, “Oh, how cute”, “He’s sleeping,” or whatever other obvious thing came to mind. Perhaps their terrible posture and poor eyesight prevented them from noticing that I was the one pushing my sleeping son around, but nothing the old ladies said was directed towards me.
We arrived outside the movie theater complex and waited for my wife and daughter to emerge. There are always fertive glances at my son whenever I am out with him. Most younger people will peek at whatever I am doing, as I am still (somehow) a curiosity. I like to think they have a superstition that makes them believe that if they ever look directly at a foreigner, they’ll be forced to take a TOEIC test on the spot, to their horror. While walking around outside the theater, there were plenty of people looking, but no one commented on my son.
When my wife and daughter left the theater, we walked back together to the house. They had planned an arts and craft activity together and needed supplies. We stopped at a stationary store and separated. I walked with my son in the cool interior of the building while my wife and daughter went downstairs and bought what they needed.
As soon as they left, a woman on a bike rode into the hallway from the sidewalk and began to lock up her bike on the rail. This hallway had a few other strollers and bikes locked up along the length of the stairwell I was adjacent to, so I went to let her pass. This forty year old Korea woman had a puzzled look on her face. She approached me directly after she locked up her bike and said, in English, “What are you doing with that baby?”
I was so confused, I took out my headphones and gave her an incredulous stare. She repeated herself, to which I could only respond in a shocked, “Excuse me, what?”
The woman replied, with panicked eyes, “Where is that baby’s mother?” I think she thought she was witness to an abduction. It was up to her to stop this foreigner from doing whatever it is they do with children! She saw me, caught in the act, and I was about to take an innocent Korean baby that had been abandoned in a hallway in a stroller, take it home, and…what? Eat it? As the only acting Korean mother on hand, she clearly knew what was best for ALL children.
I gave her a look of absolute disgust and hostility and replied, “Is that any of your business? That is incredibly rude of you to say.” Despite my wife and daughter being downstairs, there was no elevator and I couldn’t wait for them any longer. I left because if that woman had said another word, there was a very good chance that the situation would have escalated very badly.
I have no tolerance for this kind of self-righteous, invasive questioning. I don’t care about your opinion of interracial marriage, or what the gender politics issues are when you grew up. I will not have the terms of my fatherhood defined by your bigotry. You have no right to insist I need a Korean chauffeur to take my son outside of the house, or that a father can’t spend time with his son. Just because no one ELSE seems to find that important doesn’t mean I share the same view.
My wife caught up to me about a block later, and by the time they emerged from the store, I wasn’t interested in tracking down the woman so that my wife could she could set the woman straight to get an apology from her. In fact, if the woman saw my wife approaching, she would have won the argument in a sense anyway, because there was a mother present to allay her worries.
Let her worry, because she isn’t worth my time.