some things can’t be unseen

Ever see something so disturbing you wish you could rip your eyes out and trade them in for a new set? Or, at the very least, have the option of inviting over the Men in Black and having them zap away some unpleasant memories? Wouldn’t that be nice? Damn. I read a news article yesterday that reminded me ofΒ something last year that haunted me on a daily basis. Prepared to be disturbed. Or offended. Either is okay…. we’re all friends here.


Last summer, I took my 6-year-old niece to the birthday party of one of her classmates. Now, I don’t have any kids and always feel awkward in these situations, so I like to pretend I’m busy on my phone besting my Angry Birds score or something. (It sucks being socially awkward, you know?) Then, another classmate at the party came up to me to talk about the game while she was eating some birthday cake.

Girl: Oh, I’m way past that score! Here… I can show you how to play it right.

Girl’s Mom (to me): Oh, you don’t have to let her use your phone. She just can’t put the electronics down!

Me: Oh, that’s okay. I’m impressed at her game skills.

Girl: I’m thirsty mom, can I have milk?

Girl’s Mom: Sure, come sit here. *Takes her boob out to breastfeed*

*6-year-old girl runs over to suck her mom’s boob while she’s wrecking my Angry Birds score. Phone is officially declared to be in a hostage situation at this point.*

I was…. mortified.

Now… let me just say this – I fully support the movement for normalizing breastfeeding. I think people make a big deal out of it when it shouldn’t be. But… I can’t help but be disturbed by this. The situation legitimately made me feel sick to my stomach. This girl is in 1st grade and eating normal food like cake. The only thing I could manage to do was ask for my phone back and use the bathroom excuse. GOTTA GO, CAN’T WAIT!

How would you have reacted to this situation? Are you disturbed? Weirded out? Slightly nauseous? Or do you think this is 100% normal and okay?

What is going on? This is why I try to stay home as often as possible.

217 thoughts on “some things can’t be unseen

  1. sarahjlewisbriggs says:

    Feel the same way as you – breast feeding is all to be encouraged (I felt a failure because I only managed miserably with my kids) but at age SIX?!!! As you say, she’s eating normal, solid food. So yes, I feel ‘weirded out’.

  2. pixieannie says:

    Ah yes, there was a programme in the UK on this very subject. Now, I am about as liberal minded as they come, seriously. I’m an odd bod, but and it’s a huge but. If you are a walking, talking, teeth munching, electronic playing person with hair and nails and attitude, you are never coming near my boobs, not unless you are a guy or well maybe that as well, possibly, and you are over the age of consent and it is not in public and you are not lying on my lap, unless large sums of cash are involved and then you can lie on my lap but not in a nappy. Ever ever everer. Oh god.

  3. theotherendofthephone says:

    Am I the only one thinking of that SUPER weird scene in Game of Thrones where the exact same thing happened? Majorly creeped out! On a side note, practically speaking, doesn’t it get painful for the mum after a while??

  4. mariegriffith says:

    Blair please don’t stay home because of weird people like that mom who needs another human being sucking her boob in public. Yes, it’s weird for a six year old to breastfeed. If you can’t cradle them, don’t let them near the breast. I have three children whom were breastfed for about 4 months. I think they would be forever mentally challenged if they could remember it.

    • Justice&Humanity says:

      I must take issue with this. My son was over two and my daughter three, and she resented it when my milk dried up when I became pregnant with her brother. I did set time limits, and it worked fine, every once in a while in public. Neither of them ever used a pacifier or sucked their thumbs. Worldwide, and historically, children nurse on average until between three and four, even if the nursing is minimal.

  5. Patricia says:

    I am wholeheartedly behind breastfeeding. And even in public if you are covered by a shawl or blanket. I once saw the same thing at a McDonalds where this 6 year old chomped down some fries and nuggets and the lifted her Mom’s shirt and started sucking, then back to her nuggets. Obviously the Mom wasn’t doing it for the health benefits and I had to leave. If you have teeth, you aren’t coming near my boobs. Well unless you are an adult and we are doing adult things.

  6. plainmama says:

    It would not weird me out because I know a few moms that have nursed into preschool years. That being said, those moms have all admitted that the nursing continued either 1. It was hard to break the habit with the child or 2. They didn’t want to stop that bonding experience. Neither of these, mind you, are nutritional needs. But honestly, to each his own. Doesn’t effect me in anyway, so keep on sucking.

  7. Keith says:

    I did not expect that punch line. That is definitely a bridge “way” too far. My wife breastfed all three of our children, but only for several months.

  8. Sara McDaren says:

    I was not expecting that. Yeah, it’s weird, but probably not harmful. Each to his own I guess. I nursed each of mine for over two years and it was plenty for me.

    Then again, I’ve never actually seen something like that in action, so maybe I’d be traumatized too.

  9. gemblinkhorn says:

    Everyone to themselves but my personal policy is once a child is old enough to eat real food they don’t need the boob. I think it would weird me out to see a 6 year old latched on.

  10. chattykerry says:

    If her Angry Bird abilities are better than yours, then she is too old to breastfeed. It seems like the sort of the thing that could lead to bullying by her other class mates, especially out in the open.

  11. Haji says:

    You’re probably leaving yourself open for some hate mail from the la leche league, so brace yourself. The breastfeeding nazi’s are coming.

    I agree, though, age six seems a bit ridiculous.

  12. Nicole @ pink elephant on parade says:

    I say this as someone whose mother is nothing short of a military grade helicopter, even my mother would say cut the chord already.

  13. lifevivified says:

    I don’t have particular feelings on it one way or another, but I will say – growing up there was a friend of the family with a ton of kids and she breast-fed all of them in front of us well into their school days. It was odd to see someone your own age breast-feeding when you were weened so many years before that. I didn’t know if I should feel like I was missing out on something or like I was just so OLD, which is an odd sensation to have as a 5 year old.

      • lifevivified says:

        Well, awkwardly enough, we don’t see the family any more, mostly because they moved away, but also because there were some problems with one of the children – serious and scary problems. I’m not implying there was a connection to the late-in-life breastfeeding, but you always wonder in the back of your mind, you know? *Please no one yell at me for this honesty! I’m just talking about one personal experience, and am not implying it’s relevant to anyone else who was breast-fed late in life!

  14. Justice&Humanity says:

    I nursed both my kids and believe in infant (or kid-led) wweaning. While I believe that this is something that should not warrant making anyone feel sick to her stomach, I do worry about a parent who places her child in such a position in a culture where this could bring about such a reaction quite easily. People are more disturbed, it seems, by the nursing of ann *infant* in public in the United States than they are by the boorish behavior of adults on a daily basis. Do I think a six-year-old should be nursing in public in a culture such as ours? Probably not a good idea. Do I think it happens sometimes, often for emotional reasons? Yes, I do. Is it worthy of concern? Maybe. Disgust? No. There are far more disgusting things which people do to each other, and as uncomfortable as such a sight might be for most Americans, what should be far more nauseating is the physical and/or emotional abuse of people which goes on in public daily, and which no longer makes us nauseous.

    • Blair (The Shameful Sheep) says:

      Well, I totally agree with the fact there are FAR more important things to be bothered by. I’m not disgusted by the woman breastfeeding. It made me nauseous because it, in my mind, was abnormal. I have social anxiety, so when something different happens and I don’t know how to react, I get sick. It’s just how it hits me. There are much worse things to focus on than a friendly woman letting a 6 year old latch on.

      • Justice&Humanity says:

        What is socially abnormal here is not socially abnormal elsewhere. Also, what is considered socially abnormal is based upon how people react. If people did not react to this in the way that many Americans do, it would not be something of concern, and therefore would not be socially abnormal. We are what create socially abnormal, biologically speaking, this is perfectly normal.
        Part of the problem is that we have been steeped in the idea that breasts are sexual, and therefore any touching or contact with the breasts is sexual. This is a problem. The sexuality of breasts is socially constructed; that the breasts provide milk for the young in mammalian species is biological and a fact.

  15. joey says:

    I’m not freaked out at all. I nursed my own for less time, but everyone’s different. One weaned herself completely before she was two, but the other might have nursed til she was … Really, I don’t know how long she would have nursed, I just know I wanted my breasts back when she wasn’t quite three, and to be honest, I feel guilty for weaning her TO THIS DAY.

  16. nananoyz says:

    Ok. While I fully support this mom’s decision to breast feed for as long as she wants, this is just weird. Weird, I tell you! Where do you draw the line? Child’s about to drive off for college, “hey mom, how about one for the road?”

  17. FFTorched says:

    I was at a crowded bar one New Years Eve and the spouse of one of the bartenders came in with their infant and toddler and sat right at the bar next to me. As the night progressed I turned only to see her breastfeeding right next to me. I’m not against breastfeeding in public, but it was a bit odd being less than 2 feet away sitting at a bar.

  18. Dr Ruth 2point0 (Anna) says:

    Lol its disturbing definitely! Like you I agree breastfeeding should be normalized but after 1 1/2 tops breast milk no longer gives immunity or provides most of the nutrition.

  19. BipolarOnFire says:

    Sorry. A six year old should be OFF THE BOOB!!!! That is just BIZARRO!!!! Does that mother have no shame??? That is ridic-ridonc. I’m cringing even now. I say the cutoff is two! TWO YEARS OLD!!! Okay?

  20. heatherneedsanap says:

    Definitely-awkward!! I would have done the same. To each their own, but a 6 year old breastfeeding is not something you see everyday…

  21. Sara McDaren says:

    OK, I forgot this is a hot topic. I’m going to stop following this conversation right after I throw in another two cents. What is offensive is not extended breastfeeding but people trying to impose their morality on others in cases of non-harm. You are entitled to your opinion, you are entitled to feel as you feel, but you are not entitled to tell others “should” or “gross” or “ridiculous” or “cut the cord” or what is the proper starting and stopping point of family milestones.

    Blair, I know you were just expressing how you feel, how you were surprised, etc. but you opened the can and worms are everywhere. πŸ™‚

  22. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    I am completely in favour of normalising public breastfeeding, as well. It’s okay for people to hang their boobs out for sexual purposes but not for feeding a baby. Ridiculous. However, a six-year-old? Yikes! Women who do that are over the top, literally.

  23. cracTpot says:

    Ok first let me say I probably would have asked the mother to stop…NOT because what she was doing was any of my business but because I would be the person that would be so caught off guard that I would gasp and end up choking on my birthday cake that I managed to steal from a random child and in need of that mother to perform the Heimlich maneuver so that I don’t end of dead on the floor scarring all those poor little grade 1 students far more than that mother ever could! Secondly you’re allowed to be disturbed because you haven’t had kids yet. There are so many things that I would NEVER have imagined that I would do involving bodily fluids (just for example, catching vomit with my hands at a grocery store) and yet as a parent it somehow becomes instinct (just a little something for you to look forward to lol) The fact that we have to remember is, the child asked, and when your child asks for something you want to provide (except pop because I still won’t let my kids drink that junk!) and the harm that people are insinuating is coming from potentially being bullied by other kids which we all stand up collectively and discourage and say, should not be allowed to happen. I have a friend who put cheddar cheese on her apple pie and the first time I watched her do it, I laughed and told her she was weird and wrecking perfectly good apple pie. She laughed too, she knew her apple pie habits didn’t define her as a person and she knew I didn’t define her by her apple pie eating habits. So, while I won’t be trying cheddar cheese on my apple pie (ever) I now expect it from her and don’t bat an eye. To each their own.

  24. raebirdistheword says:

    Mortified would have been 1000% of my feelings in that situation too. Is it odd that I wonder if that child, I mean, young adult, is vaccinated? ‘Cause breastfeeding a school aged child sounds like some hippy dippy kool-aid bullshit. Breastfeeding is normal, breastfeeding in public is normal, but at some point there is an age where it becomes awkward for everyone and not just the prudes. I don’t have kids, but like, wouldn’t you want your nips to yourself after a couple of years???

  25. erinb9 says:

    I’m very pro-breastfeeding and also want to normalize it, but..: SIX??

    Both of my babies self-weaned a little after one and I planned to cap it at two (research said this is when they get most the benefits). So I’m not sure why a six year old is still at it and I’m trying not to be judgey, but…

    She’s going to remember it and that seems weird to me. My daughter is four now and already seems way too old for BF.

  26. thisendoftheswamp says:

    I nursed both of my children until they were six months old, and I had to go back to work. (Blair, you’re not old enough to remember when you got six months maternity leave, and more if you were nursing.) In the early 60s, it was VERY unusual for mothers to breastfeed their children, and I would try to find a private spot to do it. When my younger daughter was born, the eldest expressed great interest in the project, but when I offered to let her “try it again”, she was horrified – and she was three and a half.

    My younger daughter and my local granddaughter nursed until their children were a year old. Both of them said that if you would have had a child drinking from a cup, rather than a baby bottle, then it was time to stop nursing.

  27. evilsquirrel13 says:

    I frequently use the word “tittybaby” to describe the plethora of useless, coddled, lazy, entitled young adult mama’s boys and daddy’s girls we have in the world today. I think I now know how they get to be like this…

  28. serenasinclair says:

    I think this is like…a thing though. And while I would feel totally weird about seeing it as well I think it’s because of our culture of shaming breastfeeding. Because we’ve sexualized breasts so much even though we KNOW they are used for feeding our children we still subconsciously see them as something else. So while we may be able to look past an infant breastfeeding, seeing an older child makes us feel weird because of that subconscious knowledge. I think if breastfeeding was more accepted as a whole then it wouldn’t be AS weird or shocking. ( but for how we are today, yea I’d be totally weirded out too)

    • Blair (The Shameful Sheep) says:

      I think you’re exactly right in most cases. That’s definitely the problem behind the breastfeeding in public issue. I actually am 10000% for it. A boob is a boob. A body is a body. It’s whatever to me really lol. In this specific case of age, it bothered me the most because the kid is old enough to remember it. I would be weirded out if I could remember vividly sucking on my mom. (Okay, now I’m realizing I’m working in a circle. It would probably weird me out to remember it because it IS subconsciously sexual in my mind. I guess you’re right! Haha)

  29. circumstance227 says:

    Let me guess – this girl was an only child, wasn’t she? If there had been a 3 year old younger sister or brother, both of them would be “off the boob”.
    As for breastfeeding, I live in a country where women are free to nurse (i.e. “whip it out”) in every conceivable setting – but even here – nursing a 6 year old would raise eyebrows.

  30. jonna ellis holston says:

    Everything is weird. I’m rarely surprised. At least it was at a private party and you weren’t tied down with your eye lids forced open.

  31. 2ndhalfolife says:

    My oldest is 27 and I took her to a La Leche meeting many, many years ago…as you can see by the math when she was first born. Someone there was nursing a 4-5 year old and I was pretty shocked. I believe this may not be an uncommon practice in other countries though where breast feeding is far more accepted and necessary. This group helped me tremendously to get her to feed when she was born and a preemie, when the nurses at the hospital just wanted her to bottle feed. I was adamant that I didn’t want her too! It’s all perception I think and how a society handles it. In America, breasts–or ‘boobs’ as it is referred to, is primarily a sexual object here, so we all think it’s gross. If everyone makes a big deal about it, and says how weird and gross it is, then yes, it could be a problem for the kid or kids–but if it was the custom–then no-one would bat an eye. Just my take….. I feel like, if it’s not hurting me, then hey, whatever. And think about it….how many really clear memories do you have of when you are six? Do you really think this kid is gonna think: Hey, I was nursing from my Mom then, OMG something is wrong with me? Um, probably not, unless people make them feel that way. Their family will have them think is was perfectly OK. πŸ™‚

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