Last week I was at the grocery store when a gal and her little one got in line behind me. He was the cutest little guy, clutching some massive plastic bat and ball, just babbling away. I was putting my groceries on the belt when I heard him say, "Ohhh mama, look! That lady has witch hair."
Now, I'm going to be honest. It was a windy day, and I have a ton of hair. I had broken a rubber band trying to get it all in a ponytail, so it was in a messy, scary state. I laughed and turned around, hands up like claws, black painted fingernails and all, and made sort of a hissing sound. The kid was horrified. His lower lip even quivered. Mom backed her cart away and got in another line. Out of fear or embarrassment — who knows, I'll call it a toss-up. And that moment did motivate me to get a haircut, but it also reminded me of the many, many times my kids said or did something like that in public.
We've all been there. The kid that answers the phone or the door and innocently says "Mommy is on the potty" or similar, and immediately you rush out saying, "OH NO I'M NOT!" when in fact, you are busted.
My youngest has no filter. Never did. From the time she could talk, she could embarrass me. We were sitting in a waiting room once with all three kids and it was packed and strangely quiet. We had been discussing strangers earlier that day: that some looked like scary strangers, and that others looked just like you and me, but that if they were lost, they needed to find another mom or someone who worked in the store. Youngest looks around the room and pipes up, "See that man?" She points and stands on her chair, "Is that what a scary stranger is?" The scary stranger was indeed very scary-looking, and looking right at us. I was speechless. And the whole room was waiting for my reply, which was a swift "SHHHHHHHHH.”
This is the same child that told the DARE officers at school in kindergarten that her mom did drugs and her dad sold them. Never mind that they had talked about NICOTINE being a drug, and I was a smoker, and poor hubby was in big tobacco sales. The phone call home was ... interesting, to say the least.
The boy at some point decided every man he saw was named “Dad.” We'd go to the grocery store, and he'd wave and grin and say "Hi Dad!" and the poor men would stumble with some sort of a response. That kid got everything from a "Hi, son!" to a hurried and nervous "I'm not your Dad" and I'd have to explain that it was just a guy thing … he knew his Dad and walk away quickly. At the deli an African American man and his kids were waiting for their turn when my kid yells, "Hey! Hi Dad!" The kids all shot their dad a look of pure horror and the guy bursts out laughing, walks over and said, "You, son, are the whitest white boy I've ever seen. I'm not your Dad.” What could anyone do but laugh?
My oldest was extremely curious when I was pregnant with baby number two. "How'd that baby get in there? Why?" All the time. Never ended. So I got a basic book, no stork business, just sort of a "When a Mommy and Daddy love each other" kind of thing. So wherever we went, she'd proudly pat my belly and say things like, "Daddy loves mommy so much he put this baby in there" or “See this? (pokes the belly) My Dad gave a baby to my mom because he loves her,” or worse "My Dad did this baby to my Mom" and then she looks at the person she's saying this to and leans in, "I'm not sure how it got in. I guess it comes out the same way." This was all said to a man spraying our house for bugs. I said something like, "OH my, gosh, ummm, come here, uhhhh so sorry" and the poor guy said, "I believe that's how it works, kid" and winked at me.
She was the toddler that became the mother to her younger siblings and would tell pediatricians if they hurt “her” baby she'd get them. "Don't make me hurt you back.” Or she would tell them to wash their hands before they touched the baby — then ask to see how clean the doc or nurses’ hands were. Once she told our beloved pediatrician that she needed to go blow her nose because that was the biggest “boogie” she had ever seen in any nose ever.
This is one of the great joys of parenthood, is it not? Unintentional humiliation. You can always laugh about it being unintentional. It gets a little bit trickier when they are teenagers and you KNOW they are humiliating you on purpose.
One answers the phone recently and says, "They said they are napping. We know they aren't. Want me to have her call you back, or should I interrupt?"