I feel on display when I’m shopping with toddlers. In a not so good way.
People who normally keep their distance come right up to our cart to engage my child and Nori (her cousin), and I lose all personal space. My attention is constantly diverted from my task to overseeing the interactions with them (and making sure there is none with my nearby pocket book and cell phone).
And sure, they’re entertained by the girls but they’re also gauging our interactions, especially when there are lines with little else to do. A child is like the weather; a commonality that anyone can find something to say about.
I just don’t like being gazed upon, like the weather, or anticipated for what I’ll do next.
It’s the worst when it’s a bad time or I’m dealing with tired or hungry kiddos. People seem to pause to see if I’ll follow through: “I don’t answer little children who talk like that.” “I’m taking that from you if you keep dumping it.” “Kick me one more time and you have to walk.” “Stay where I can see you or I’m putting you back in the cart!” “Do not touch her any more or there will be NO cookies!”
Shopping is one of my favorite activities, by myself, but with toddlers it can bring out the worst in me.
I know it must all be in my head sometimes, and that I feel it more keenly sometimes than at other times, but some shopping experiences have just left me skittish.
Honestly, I’m not that interesting. There’s just something about being with a child that demands attention.
They smile at them, just like I smile at all the other babies and children, and they smile at me, just like I smile at all the other mommas. They tell me there’s no mistaking whose kid Muffin is. They ask where she got the curly hair. They say it’s the cheeks; those cheeks! They say Nori is exquisite. I feel obligated to explain they’re cousins.
They ask Muffin’s name. Sometimes I say, “She answers to Boo Boo” because (long story) that’s what Nori calls her. They ask Nori’s name but give up trying to decipher it. I sometime feel like volunteering my own name for good measure. Greetings all around.
Even if we’re not close enough to be breathing the same air, people make eyes at the girls from across the store. They coo, call out, and become all faces and giggles. They give me meaningful looks and tell me to enjoy “it” because “it’ will be over before I know it. Sometimes they pat me.
I’m never that approachable when I’m shopping by myself!
And it’s all good (usually) until for whatever reason the fun and games suddenly turns into all out, leg kicking, face-reddening, tantrum on a dirty floor while I helplessly fling everything into bags and scoop up whichever head-cracking fit-thrower is on the floor.
That’s when everyone pretends to ignore you.
And someone lost it in the second one. Before I even had time to get a decent picture.
I really need an online grocer.
And a faster camera.