The employee at Top Foods meat department rolls his eyes at me. He says, “It’s nice to see parents teaching their kids.”
I stop. What is he talking about? I’m distracted; first day wearing my new miniskirt and I’m wondering if my ass is hanging out. I realize this employee is referring in irritation to another parent close by: she has a child in her cart that is on occasion omitting a rather impressive shriek. The child is easily under two years old and likely bored as hell.
The butcher continues, “Good job,” (meaning my kids). “It’s rare to see, believe me.” Nodding sagely.
I laugh nervously as my eyes cast about and I spy my own children who are, for the moment, relatively calm and innocent-seeming. I don’t know what to say. First off, I don’t really agree with this fellow if he thinks a two year old shrieking is a big problem. Secondly, I always get a kick out of people complimenting my childrens’ decorum. At any minute my kids could be saying, “If you don’t mind sir, would you please direct me to the restroom?” or they could be pulling down their pants to piss in the parking lot – honestly, it’s a coin toss either way and I’m always curious and amused to see which way it goes.
So since I can’t agree nor accept the compliment I just smile and wander off.
After shopping we take the kids to the park; Sophie having spent the day at my mom’s boyfriend’s place – she impressed by the outdoor shower and lack of indoor plumbing – missed her brother immensely. Now the siblings are clambering all over one another, tumbling down the slide as one unit, Sophie somersaulting off the edge and then instantly up with a handful of wood chips to fling in her brother’s face, who expertly dodges and laughs (nice one!). “Jesus,” Ralph says from our seat in the car, looking aside at me. It looks alarming but I know my kids have context; they play much rougher with one another than with anyone else.
It’s Nels’ turn at Grandma’s tonight for a sleepover; upon our return Ralph helps him pack his backpack and spirits him away in the car. I’m making up spaghetti and meatballs and a delicious cake with my favorite frosting for our company (third time this week) tomorrow night. I’ll miss Nels, I have to admit. My favorite thing in the morning is him coming down the stairs, his blonde hair huge and his belly empty and his arms full of hugs.