Button-pushing. Not just for toddlers!
“Oh, look at all the babies!”
We’re out in the mega stroller, of course.
“Goodness, are they all yours?”
(Of course. I’m always asked that.)
“Oh, dear. Can you see, honey? This one,” the sweet white-haired woman straightens to tell me, “this one can hardly see.” Her brow furrows, and suddenly she’s not sweet. “Her hat is almost entirely covering her face!” Not sweet at all. I am being reprimanded. For being negligent. Shoddy caregiving, that’s what this is! Harrumph.
Her companion, a woman I would judge to be her daughter (and about my age), also straightens. Goodness. Am I going to get it from the both of them?
I could point out that the child is question is not complaining. I could point out that, given my so-responsible sun-shade, I can’t see the children’s heads from where I stand at the back. (Not without tilting 45 degrees to one side to peer underneath, that is — which, I might add, I do at least once per block.)
Instead, I opt for a subtle reprimand back. “If it bothers her, she’s perfectly capable of moving it. She’ll never learn if I do it for her, will she?” And I smile. I’m aiming for warm, but I may only have achieved a semi-savage baring of teeth. I suspect the latter, because the sweet/stern/scolding woman’s condemning frown turns uncertain.
Her companion leaps in.
“It’s what I always say, mother!” (Called that right!) “We need to let kids learn things themselves.” I shoot her a grateful glance, which she doesn’t notice, as she’s only beginning. “You’re always complaining, mother, that kids these days expect the world to bend over backward for them. Well, who do you think taught them that? There’s a time and place to just step back and…”
She’s still gaining momentum as their voices fade into the distance. Oops. I didn’t mean to trigger a mother-daughter spat… but I rather suspect this particular one has been going on for decades…