Shouldn’t have brought that


Why babies don’t belong everywhere

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar 2, 2016

I get it: young parents need to have a life too. They want to go out to events, spend time on vacations, and have dinners at restaurants. But when you are bringing a baby with you, you are responsible for anything that happens, not the general public.

During a Montreal Canadiens open practice on February 21, a puck thrown into the stands by defenceman P.K. Subban struck a one-month-old baby. Throwing pucks into the crowd is a display of appreciation from the players. They are giving fans a souvenir for their experience. There is no fault on the players or the game. Even if the puck wasn’t tossed by a player, hockey is an inherently dangerous sport, not just for players, but for the fans too. Like foul balls at baseball games, the pucks often leave the playing field.

My sympathy goes out to the baby’s family, but it wasn’t like they didn’t know where they were going. They actually planned to bring the infant to the practice. The thing is, the baby doesn’t even know where she is—babies don’t understand the game of hockey—so why was she even there?

If you can’t find a babysitter, you shouldn’t go to an event. I’m sorry moms and dads. That’s just the way it is. Because if something bad happens, you put other people in a tight situation. In this case, it was Subban.

It seems many parents teeter back and forth between caring too much and not caring enough. I see moms riding their bikes with their baby in the back carriage, racing through a yellow light. I see parents bringing their baby to busy supermarkets with people and shopping carts moving this way and that. You want your child close to you, but you also want them to be safe. Sometimes you can’t have both. The world is rather dangerous, and babies are vulnerable in many ways.

I don’t know what the best parent in the world looks like. I don’t know what it’s like to have a newborn. But I do know the first few years of a baby’s life are pivotal. As parents, your baby depends on you to make the right decisions for them every day. It sucks, because that may mean missing out on a lot of fun activities. I’m sorry, you lost the privilege of doing whatever you want the day you brought another life into this world. I don’t know what the best parent in the world looks like, but I can tell you a good parent is one that understands that, and doesn’t resent their child for making them miss out on fun sometimes.

I guess, for those with children, it’s already too late to heed my caution. However, if you plan on having kids in the future, I hope you know that you should—will—miss out on some fun. Sorry.

What’s in a name?

Opinons_Bad namesA bad name lasts a lifetime

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in the Other Press. October 9, 2014

Like a birth defect, poor name choices can be an everlasting nuisance to a person’s life. Although, I don’t know the formula for perfect naming, I do know that certain words have a particular connotation that may evoke emotions that you wouldn’t necessarily want to have associated with a person.

When I was growing up, I didn’t like the name Elliot. I thought it had too many syllables, too many variations, which would lead to incorrect spelling, and of course, it rhymes with idiot, if the person could even pronounce it properly. Elliot is an uncommon name, but it grew on me, and now, I can’t imagine my life with any other name. All in all, I’m sure glad my parents didn’t give me a name that was the first noun they heard when arriving in Canada or a direct translation of a name from another culture or language. Elliot fits me; it fits my environment.

Naming is a big responsibility, and parents should not mess around with it and try to be original or clever. Allow your children to be unique by giving them a blank canvas to work with, rather than imposing a name that they’ll have to explain every time they introduce themselves at a party. Believe me, the story of why your kid is named after your favourite patio furniture will not be enjoyable to tell when they’re at a job interview.

There is nothing wrong with reusing names that have been around for generations. Some of my best friends are people with the same names as each other. I’m talking about the Ryans, the Stephanies, the Michaels, and the Erics out there who actually have a personality that doesn’t play into having a particular name.

Your Instagram user name can be witty, but your real name—the one you have on your birth certificate—should not. And if it is, you should really ask your hipster parents why they decided it was a good idea. You deserve an explanation.

Liberal naming, such as hyphenated surnames, are cool and all, and have come to the fore in this generation. I’m meeting more and more people with two last names and a couple of middle names in addition to their first name. As someone with only a first and a last name, I’m a bit befuddled as to why so many names are needed to represent a person. Can it be that having more is better? I don’t think so. I think all that having extra names does is add to the confusion: a small identity crisis.

I’m happy with my name, and I’m sure many people who have “bad” names are happy as well. But we’ve all met someone or overheard a conversation where we leave saying to ourselves: “What an unfortunate name. His parents must have hated him.” For those thinking of having kids in the future, please heed the name.

Only (child) the lonely

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 4, 2014

I was a late-bloomer, in the social sense. As a child, most of my time was dedicated to television, artworks, or other solitary enjoyments. My parents were too busy with work to entertain me, and my cousins lived too far away for weekday visits. Yes, being an only child was a lonely endeavour. If it wasn’t for my imagination and my ability to outgrow my shyness, I would not have been able to survive my teenage years, let alone my adult years.

As I watch my parents age and my own responsibilities pile up, I wish I could turn to someone for support; a person who could relate to my family’s erratic behaviour and me; someone to talk to without having to explain a lengthy life story; someone who understands mom and dad’s expectations and their tendencies; someone to vent to without feeling the judgmental reverberations.

My parents rely on me for many things, and often times it seems unfair that all their hopes and dreams are now placed upon my shoulders. As an only child, I’m all the eggs in one basket—and they know it as well as I do. I know that having siblings comes with minor annoyances: you’ll have to wake up early to fight for the bathroom, you might not get seconds for dinner, and you might need to move out earlier because your parents can no longer support all of you financially. Those who are an only child face a psychological challenge. I call it “I never asked to be born” syndrome, where the child has to decide whether to do what their parents want them to do or to live their own life. That syndrome is evermore present in only children.

I’m well-aware that when mom and dad are gone, I might be the last branch extending out in an obtuse direction from our family tree. That’s a scary thought, one that only those without siblings can understand. All the affection, all the care, all the attention we received our whole lives will vanish. Memories of family dinners, vacations, and other snippets of normality growing up will be lost—should I allow it to be.

Now, I’m not saying that I want a brother or a sister. That is not a decision for a son to make, nor did I ever pressure my parents to conjure up a playmate for me. From my experience, it’s a flip of the coin on whether you’ll actually get along with your siblings. Regardless, I think a bond between siblings is sacred; they endure the test of time. I find myself attempting to replicate that relationship with my friends and my cousins, but since most of my friends and cousins have siblings and families of their own, the sensation is far from authentic.

A family has a gravitational force that pulls all the beings together. An only child suffers the fate of orbiting alone, like the moon around Earth. Insignificant to the universe, but vital to the planet, we can only wonder what life would be like if there was another.