not any of you readers out there, just the insensitive public at large. do you know of whom i speak? the public. you know, the general populus. that giant mass of people that inhabits the world and who is constantly aiming a disapproving eye at me.
mostly, i find it hard to hate individuals if i get a chance to talk with them. more than likely, they say, they have been where i am, they get it, they empathize. when, however, i am out in public, say at the grocery store, they move as a school of fish to shun me. on those occasions that one of them does encounter me and address me individually at that time, they are not speaking on behalf of themselves, but on behalf of the whole. does that make sense?
i had to buy grapes. and juice. and popcorn, so i did what any person would do and i went to the store to get these items with my two kids that are rarely separated from my person. sure, i break the faux paus of polite citizenship and submit other people, other unsuspecting and unprepared people to my young kids. i figure, hey, they are people too. they should be accepted in the public sphere. and perhaps they are. after all, kroger does have those car carts specifically for kids. at least that’s what i assume. i’ve never tried to climb in myself but it looks a little snug for a full-grown person.
in any case, we got out of the car and started toward the store, which was the first hurdle to clear, as joel has been refusing to hold my hand and if i try and make him, he will violently yank it away and start screaming. so, i usually opt on the side of un-caution and let him have at it. we cross the parking lot sort of like a model of an atom, with both kids loosely orbiting around me,usually found a step away from me,but can sometimes jump a few extra steps. this usually gets laughs from a few good humored people, a few eye rolls, but i try to pay no attention which i am actually really good at by default cause i’m too busy making sure neither of my kids gets flattened by a car.
we made it in, and there was the car cart. we struggled for a minute to situate everyone. a few people, impatient to get past us to the carts glared at the back of my head for a while, but, in all, it started out ok. i found the first two items and everything was going well. there are times (mostly when your kids are somehow restrained like in a stroller or in this car cart, and when they are really really quiet, like not making a sound) that people will look at them and smile and say things like, “they are so adorable!” as a parent, you learn how fleeting these sentiments from strangers can be, but you accept them gracefully anyways. after all, this might be the magical time that you are able to make it through the whole trip with the overall approval of the public. you might glide out the automatic doors with people thinking your children are just angels, that you are a wonderful parent.
or this might happen. joel wanted to get out of the car, my biggest fear, because then it’s no man’s land. chaos, my friend. ruth knew how badly i didn’t want joel to leave, so bless her little helpful heart, she latched onto his shirt and refused to let him get out. well, there is nothing that will evoke a scream from my son faster than if someone stops him from doing something that he desires,so he let out a warning cry to my daughter, which was like a tornado siren times three. i could feel every eye in the store on me and my kids. the person who had just complimented my kids walked past awkwardly and rolled their eyes. joel was inconsolable. joel was loud. and nobody liked us right then. from this moment on i avoided eye contact with everyone i met and walked as fast as possible.
somehow i managed to snap up the last thing we needed, carrying joel, still upset, in one arm, pushing the cart with the other, and found the check out aisle, and checked out. on my way out, one of the baggers said, “have a nice day,” which was so sweet it may have been sarcasm, code for, “don’t let the door hit you and your loud children in the ass…” but i said thanks you too anyways.
we made it through the encounter so far, a little worse for wear, but we were almost done. we just had to make it back out to the car. so i tried to hold onto joel. he squirmed down. i tried to hold his hand, he brushed me off. it took us a long time (like maybe six seconds longer than a regular person) to cross the street and we had to make a car wait for us as the kids toddled nonchalantly towards the car. the guy pulled in right behind us and as he got out, i could tell we had pissed him off by slowing him down because he avoided eye contact. suddenly, joel started to walk the wrong way, back to the store, and i finally had to give up the ghost and grab him. he screamed of course. and the guy looked over at joel, and said sarcastically, “wow! you’re really tellin’ us, huh?” and walked away.
i hate people. i simply hate people. as i wrestled joel into his car seat, using bribery, of course, to get him to sit down, i felt how i often feel after such simple outings into public. alone. berated. put through the ringer, first, by my kids, second, by the public. does no one else have small kids? does no one remember what life is like with them? how can it be that people hold such disdain for the future generation of our world? and, for me, their mother.
um…you’re welcome? for taking really good care of myself while i was pregnant so that my babies are healthy and are not a drain on the health system. you’re welcome for me sacrificing a career (yeah right) and social life to stay home and raise them so that they will grow up to be (hopefully) well-balanced, confident, creative individuals without mental hang ups that could make them burdens on society, turn to crime, drugs, alcohol, or be unable to function. you’re freakin’ welcome, rest of humanity, for me trying so damn hard to invest in the next generation. don’t mention it.