Disclaimer: This is a totally true story. Because I don’t think I could make it up if I tried.
It all started on a Friday morning. My daughter and I headed to our favorite local play area to have a break from each other and burn off some of the energy that had built up from a week of winter break. The play area was packed (since I was apparently not the only one who needed a break from their preschooler), and another mom and I marveled at how you could tell the “regulars” from the “holy cow is this what it’s like to be here all the time?!?” folks. (Pro tip: if you have two kids you don’t need 6 chairs. Trust me.) After nearly 2 hours of nap-inducing fun, my daughter and I walked over to a nearby restaurant for lunch.
Now, I am a huge fan of quick service restaurants. You know the ones – Chipotle, Panera, Noodles & Company – it’s a step or two above fast food but still infinitely kid-friendly. We went to a burger place that shall remain nameless. The place had plenty of families that we had seen earlier at the play area, including a large group in line in front of us whose cluelessness extended to ordering lunch for their kids. We ordered our lunch, chose a table (a PRIME location in between the bathrooms and the kitchen), and started to patiently wait for our food.
As my daughter happily played games on my iPhone, I listened for our order. You should know that this particular restaurant has waiters bring out food and call out names, and that my first name is rather unique. So when I thought I heard my name called my ears perked up. I looked up and saw one of the moms that was in front of us in line wave her arm. And I listened as the waiter reviewed the order to make sure it was hers. “Kids burger with cheddar and extra pickles, grilled cheese, and french fries.” She nodded in agreement, as I wondered what the chances were that she ordered the EXACT SAME THING WE ORDERED. Maybe she did. I suppose I’m not the only one who likes pickles. So we continued to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
After I saw people who came in after us get their food, I got up and asked. And after the cashier apologized up and down, she reprinted the order. And a manager came over to apologize. And because of our PRIME LOCATION by the kitchen I listened as the manager discussed that he had already made that order. And I’m sure that you have now pieced together exactly what I did and the staff did. The clueless mom had taken our order.
To be fair, if I had thought that this was an honest mistake on her part, I wouldn’t have been that upset. Or if I felt that this was the only was she could feed her kids. In fact, I would have probably BOUGHT her a meal if that was the case. But as I stood up to talk to the manager I could see that she had two orders of food (you know, hers and MINE). And both she and her kids were wearing designer clothes and UGG boots (side note: Uggs for 3 year olds? REALLY?). It was like being in high school and the popular girl stole my lunch. I hope my french fries make you fat.
We were lucky. So very lucky. We prepared for the storm (and assumed that we wouldn’t have power for a few days). We missed 2 days of school and the much-anticipated class field trip the pumpkin patch. We thought it would be safer to move our daughter into our bedroom for the worst of the storm, and she discovered that 1 am is an untapped time to build block towers. We are so very lucky. We are no worse for the wear. But our friends and family just 100 miles up Interstate 95 from us are devastated.
It’s hard – impossible perhaps – to fully comprehend the destruction from the storm. It makes all of the things I usually write about seem petty and, well, utter nonsense. I am holding my daughter a little tighter tonight, just so thankful that we are all here and safe. Please, if you can, make a donation to the American Red Cross to help those in the hardest hit areas. You can go to redcross.org, or simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to automatically donate $10 to Sandy Relief. And if you’re looking for ways to explain the storm to your children, check out the resources on sesamestreet.org.
While I really enjoy politics (I was actually a government major in college), we haven’t yet started to discuss things like elections with our daughter. Mostly because she’s 3. But also because the hateful language that goes on during an election cycle is not what I want her to be learning. I will be taking her with me to vote, and talking about how lucky we are to have that opportunity. In many places around the world, women don’t have that right. I will let her proudly wear my “I voted” sticker, and probably take a picture to share with our family.
As a mom, I can’t let my daughter be exposed to the negativity that surrounds this campaign. And, as parents, we have to remember that kids hear and remember way more than we give them credit for. Remember that time you accidentally blurted out a bad word in traffic, and your child used it 3 weeks later in the exact same context? Yeah, that happens with politics too. Talking about a candidate and why your family is voting for him and her is a great way to have your child become involved in the political process. Saying horrible things about a candidate in front of your child gives your child the impression that it’s ok to talk like that. Saying you won’t vote for someone because of his religion gives your child the impression that it’s ok to exclude friends at school because of their religion. Saying you won’t vote for someone because they “aren’t tough on China” gives your child the impression that it’s ok to tease my daughter for being Chinese. Saying that you won’t vote for a candidate because they hate certain groups of people, or think certain groups of people make better parents just spreads that hate into their classrooms. Kids don’t just come to school saying “you’re not a good friend because you don’t have a dad” – they hear it at home and then repeat it.
Over the weekend, a group of kids were playing on a field next to the playground where I had taken my daughter. They made up a game with a ball, and organized themselves into two teams – the Democrats and the Republicans. At first, I watched as some kids announced that they needed to switch teams, while others kept asking “what are our team names again?”, clearly oblivious to the sides that their team names referred to. Then, two of the kids started a chant after they scored a point. “BOO Obama!” they shouted, loudly enough for parents across the park to turn and look at what was happening. “BOOOOO OBAMA!”, the other kids joined in. At what point did we teach our children that it’s ok to shout things like this? (and, for the record, I would have been just as upset with a “BOOO Romney” chant) When did we decide that shouting and yelling and putting other people down was more important than lifting other people up? Why haven’t we, as parents, said enough is enough? We wouldn’t (or, perhaps, shouldn’t) let our kids shout nasty things about kids on an opposing soccer team – we teach them to cheer for their own team. Why is that ok as adults?
Like so many people, I am ready for this election to be over. I’m ready to not receive 10 phone calls a day from various political groups and polling organizations (the vast majority of which come during naptime). I’m ready to let my daughter listen to music on the radio again, without having to worry about what the commercials are going to say. I’m ready to not have to wonder what amazing things both political parties (and countless SuperPACs) could do if they donated even just 10% of the advertising dollars to soup kitchens and community centers across the country instead of producing negative ads. I want to be able to go back to teaching my daughter to be a good sport, without having so many adult examples otherwise.
I try to steer clear of offering other moms advice. Don’t get me wrong, I HAVE advice to give. In fact, I think I could really help most people if they would only listen to me. But, as a general rule, I try to keep my mouth shut. So when a random stranger practically begs me for advice, what’s a girl to do?
Now, I should point out the strangeness of the request. There I was, minding my own business in the circle of hell known as the mall play area. My daughter was happily climbing and jumping and generally doing all of the things I don’t want her to do in my living room. I was happily not having my furniture destroyed as I simultaneously checked my email, watched her play, and attempted to figure out how best to avoid the rampant spread of germs. When, all of a sudden, the mom sitting next to me started asking questions.
It started out innocently enough. “How old is she?” “Did you see the music show that was here earlier?” “Do you come here often?” Yes, she actually used the phrase “do you come here often?”. Then, the kicker: “how did you potty train her?” Um, ok. After wondering what causes a seemingly normal mom to ask a total stranger how to potty train her child, I tried to answer without giving any real specifics. We waited until she was really ready, we skipped the pull-ups, we didn’t freak out about accidents, blah, blah, blah. But then she kept pushing for specifics. Like, how many accidents a day did she have? And did we have naked days or just go straight to underwear? And where did we buy her underwear? Really. The random stranger asked me where to buy her daughter underwear.
Then she started asking really specific questions about her own daughter. And I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I am not an expert. I was just a mom, in jeans and a tshirt that I am clearly too old to be wearing, trying to not catch the plague from the mall play area. I felt bad for her – clearly she was so ready for her 3 year old to be out of diapers that she was willing to engage a complete stranger as if I were an expert. And no, we don’t come to the play area often – if we did I would better know how to avoid conversations like this.
Welcome to my blog. It’s where I share the ridiculous things that happen to me as a mom. Because if this stuff is going to happen to me all the time, it’s time to start sharing it.