Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When Mothers Attack

I know what the woman behind me has just said to my mother.

We’re walking though an arts festival in Florida last month. Thad and my dad are a few yards ahead, pushing the stroller with Drew in it. I’m hanging back, watching Blair as she gallops back and forth between her father and me, like a dog does—back and forth, back and forth—covering twice as much ground (meaning one very important thing: guaranteed nap). My mother’s a few steps behind me.

The woman leans over to my mom, nods to Blair, then whispers: “Mothers these days just don’t watch their kids.”

I don’t hear this. Or see it. (My mom fills me in later.) All I hear my mother’s response. And I know.

“What?” my mother says. I assume she points at me. “Are you talking about her? Because I’m her mother.”

I love this moment. I can’t see it but I know that, if I could, I’d freaking love it: watching all the color drip out of the woman’s cheeks, her mouth hanging open, where she’s about to insert her big fat foot. You judged the wrong woman today, I think. Prepare to receive the wrath of a woman whose daughter you’ve just scorned! Ha. HA!

But, then, my mother speaks:

“My God, you think this is bad? Yesterday, we were at the beach and, the next thing you know, a lady comes up to my daughter and says, ‘I think your little girl is chasing that bird way down there.’ And we look, and there’s my other granddaughter. She’s about five blankets away from us, running down the beach after seagull. Four adults and we couldn’t keep track of a two year old!”

My mom stops. Then, as if she hasn’t made herself perfectly clear, she decides to add one more point: “We lose those kids all the time.”

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