The man is walking my way. He asked for some plant-related product, and the chirpy helper at the local hardware store directed him to aisle nine with insouciant pertness.
I am currently blocking aisle nine. As a matter of fact, I am blocking aisles nine and part of ten and the main aisle that connects the garden center with the rest of the store. I am awkwardly trying to pull the stroller out of the way for him, as well as trying to rein in Herr Meow, who wants every single dinosaur in the impulse buy tray the hardware folks have thoughtfully placed at child level.
"This one is my favorite," he coos. "And this one! And this one too." "They are all my favorites. Can they all come home with me? Please, mommy?" Pause. "I said 'please'."
"No," comes my default-irritated response. I wish I were the patient kind of mommy, but I am not. I attempt to place a dinosaur back in the cardboard crate while maneuvering the stroller, too.
But suddenly, he looks up with a face filled with glee. Surely the Easter bunny hasn't been let loose around the hardware store again?
(Aside: I haven't had as much fun in an Easter egg hunt as I did looking for eggs amid the nuts, bolts, electrical, and the plants for sale. Hardware store egg hunt, for the win indeed.)
"HI, PIRATE! HI! HI, PIRATE!"
The man, who came into my view a split second after he did into Herr Meow's, is wearing an eye patch over his right eye.
"PIRATE! HI!" Herr Meow waves and hams it up and acts as if he's female and twelve (or twelve-and-twenty) and Britney Spears is walking by.
Pirate-man nods in his direction and gingerly makes it to aisle nine.
I am beyond embarrassment.
Monsieur Meow takes Herr Meow to the ballgame.
Into view comes a double amputee wheeling himself around.
Herr Meow ascertains to the person in question that he must have had "a pretty big boo-boo."
I realize children do this. Part of me is touched and amused at the ways in which small children absorb and assess their world and that which is contained in it; I mean, pirate? Classic, right?
But a part of me is not ready for the dangerous candor that comes out of my son's mouth.
I fear it, and I fear the reactions of people. Most of all, I fear my own reactions to his reactions: do I apologize to the one-eyed man and to the amputee for their respective injuries, even if they are obviously living full lives despite, or perhaps because of them? Do I laugh? Do I beg pardons? Do I remain neutral? Do I ignore him?
What am I to do, apart from cherishing his charming remarks?
I suppose I can always blog about it.
*laughs* I was lucky and missed any pirate references with my daughter.
Kids are certainly much more honestly outspoken than adults. It’s difficult teaching them how to be polite without teaching them to lie.
I usually took my cue from the other person’s reaction and either apologized and got my daughter to apologize as well or else shared a smile with the other person.
Luckily, it was usually the smile.
I would take the opportunity to talk with my daughter about being tactful and wonder what the next time would be like. By the time she started school she was teaching other kids to be polite. 🙂
Sounds like the guy wasn’t upset at being called a pirate and might have had a flashback of playing pirate when he was younger.
I don’t have any advice other than I just give an embarrassed smile and usher my son away.
But I knew it was coming. I grew up with the lovely story of my sister (at age 4) asking my mother very loudly in the grocery aisle with only one other person besides my mom and she, “Mommy, why is that woman so fat?” Nice.
Sounds like this is an opportunity for you to have a chat with your son about differently-abled people so he’ll know how to handle the situation in the future.
I’m just starting to navigate those waters myself. (No pirates in these waters, yet, though.)
Phoebe is intrigued by accidents and injuries. Yesterday at the grocery store we saw a woman in a motorized wheelchair, and Phoebe asked about it. Happily, she waited until the woman was out of hearing range. I’m not sure whether that was just luck, or maybe shyness.
I would have whispered into his ear, “Shhhh … he’s in disguise. He didn’t wear his pirate hat today. It’s a secret.”