The couple came out of the bakery restaurant, into the small courtyard-like space, and chose a table. The look the lady sent Cameron spoke volumes. Ohgreat. So much for a peaceful lunch. She glanced at me, raised her eyebrows, and huffed into a seat.
Now, I’ll admit straight-up, Cameron wasn’t in his most docile mood. It was barely noon, and he’d already been in both karate class and swim class. Breakfast had been hours ago, and the sugar high from a hot chocolate had come and gone. He’d pretty much had it with listening to people, rules of conduct were mere suggestions, and sitting still was a complete impossibility.
And sometimes I’ll project thoughts or opinions onto people that are more a product of my own thoughts and feelings than anything grounded in reality… but I’m usually quite aware that I’m doing it and willing to see that. I don’t think I’m jumping to conclusions here. This lady’s expressions were as clear and nuance-free as a baby’s board book.
We were outside at Cameron’s request, but I’d gone for it having seen that we would be the only people out there. Gorgeous day, but chilly. I knew what sort of mood he was in. A crowded, busy, noisy, full room was not a place to have this kid.
The woman watched Cameron buzz around, as he balanced on one foot, hopped in wild circles, swung his arms, and wiggled his bum. He kept his voice somewhere below jungle howl, still within acceptable outdoor play limits, a constant stream of make-believe chatter. Occasionally she’d stare pointedly at me, then back at Cameron, and tsk. Now and then her partner was nudged, and a chin jerked in Cameron’s direction, but he seemed determined to be oblivious.
“I’m gonna cut my sandwich, Mama,” Cameron said, holding up his plastic knife and fork.
“Not with that fork you’re not, m’love. It’s been on the floor. Yuck. And your sandwich will come already cut.”
Oh. He looked a little disappointed. But then he realized that this moved the knife he held into the realm of plaything. He ‘cut’ the table, pretending to make designs. “You know you can play with that knife, Cameron. But do you do this with Mommy’s sharp knives? Nooooo, that’s right. How about our table knives? Right. Okay.” With my quiet permission, he danced around the courtyard, knife in hand, trying to see what it would and would not cut.
Table? No. Small pineconey thing? YES. Rock? No. This rock? No. Branch? No. Other branch? No. Leaf? Yes. Chair? No. Dirt? Yes.
The woman’s jaw looked like it was going to hit the table, and her eyebrows were lost in her hairline. I had to keep from laughing as she frowned, and gathered her clothes and purse closer to her body.
For heaven’s sakes, it was a freaking plastic knife that barely could cut … dirt.
“EXCUSE ME,” she said sharply, as Cameron ventured within about five feet of them, and tossed me a look that clearly communicated that my style of parenting was responsible for all the evil in the world.
I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t apologize – he wasn’t doing anything wrong. I also didn’t say anything snarly. I just said, “Honey, what about that string over there? Will your knife cut that?” (no).
Lunch came out. My little hooligan trotted straight up to table, sat nicely, and set his dirty knife and fork aside. His sandwich, made with the bakery’s signature rainbow bread, did indeed come cut. I left him sitting there, and went inside to get clean cutlery for us, and managed to not laugh at the lady’s horror as I left Satan’s offspring unattended. When I returned, Cameron (who hadn’t budged and was politely waiting to start eating until I returned, amazingly) asked sweetly, “Please Mama, can I have some of your salad?”
I didn’t ask the lady what she thought of my parenting skills now.
But I might’ve looked a trifle smug.
My blogging friend Marie is celebrating her posting of her 100th Reason that she’s a Crap Parent. I thought I’d toss this one out there, a sample of the fun bad parenting opportunities still to come!