Friday, April 23, 2010

The Unkindness of Strangers

Raising a toddler is a constant balancing act of strategy and deception. We spell words. We take the long way home to avoid walking by the p-a-r-k when we don't have time to stop. We hide things we don't want him to play with. But sometimes all those efforts get foiled by a well meaning stranger.

The other day Logan and I both had eye exams so the parent not being examined was left to entertain Soren. (We tried on lots of glasses.) The lovely woman who tells you what frames to buy heard him ask over and over if we could go to the park we'd passed on the way. The next day I returned to pick up Logan's glasses. On the way over I'd taken great care to not walk by the park since it was almost dinner time and super windy so I didn't want to stop. I successfully navigated my park-free way there and then the same very well-meaning lady asked Soren if he'd finally been able to go to the park. Blast.

Then yesterday I bought some sidewalk chalk that I plan to use to make a party favor for Soren's birthday. Knowing Soren would want to have them if he saw them, I hid the chalk in the top of the stroller and then handed them to the cashier turned around so Soren couldn't see. Soren was getting restless and asking if we could go on the train so the cashier, trying to cheer him up, showed him the chalk and said "No, but you get to have this fun chalk! Do you like chalk?" Argh.

I know people are just trying to be nice and helpful. I know they have no idea they've just ruined all my efforts and probably set a meltdown in motion. But there's not much worse than that feeling you get the moment someone says ice cream, bubbles or Curious George and you know what is about to happen.

To be fair, even I mess up sometimes and absentmindedly hum the Wallace and Gromit song or forget to spell "bath". Soren's so cute that I can't blame people for talking to him and just trying to be friendly.


anna said...

I love your description of the careful web of deception - so true. I am dreading when my kids figure out how to spell. Clarke and I are going to have to learn another language :)

Linda Perkes said...

HaHa! I love reading your blog and glimpsing your lives. You capture motherhood and humor and the nature of humanity. The same creativity carries in your photos. Thanks for sharing!

J I L L A I R E said...

I've learned to include cashiers in my deceptions. As I stealthily hand them the treat or future gift, I say, "I'm trying to hide this." They conspiratorally (sp?) will quickly stuff it into a bag. Good luck!