Since the weather is nice now, Mark and I spend a lot of time outside. I still avoid the playground as much as I can but I take him downtown, to museums, in shops, or just for walks around the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones out: the toddler police is patrolling in Ottawa…
Here are some of the interactions with complete strangers we had lately.
WHERE I AM NO FUN
(Mark and I are in the bus. Mark is quiet—he loves riding the bus!—and he is sitting beside me, by the window.)
Passenger: “You should get him to stand on the seat so that he could look out the window.”
Me, with a smile: “I’d rather him to sit properly. We take public transportation a lot so it’s better to train him to behave.”
Passenger, snarky: “Uh! You’re not exactly a fun mother, are you!”
(Bitch. If Mark would have stood up on his seat, I bet she would have complained about it.)
WHERE I SHOULD PUT MARK ON A LEASH
(We are stepping into Walmart.)
Greeter: “Do you want a cart for your kid?”
Me: “Oh, no, thank you. He can walk.”
Greeter, in a very unfriendly tone: “Well, you’d better keep an eye on him then!”
(Mmm… when was the last time I let Mark run wild in the store? Oh, right: never.)
WHERE FENG IS APPARENTLY A CLUELESS FATHER
(I am getting a coffee at Starbucks, inside Chapters. Mark and Feng are waiting for me by the door. After placing my order, I go check on the guys.)
Woman behind me: “Mother! The kids section is upstairs. This way.”
I am assuming the middle-aged woman is talking to her mother and I barely register what she is saying. She grabs my arm.
Woman: “Mother! The section for kids is upstairs. And like I was telling your husband, your child shouldn’t be playing by the doors. He might trigger the alarm. Your husband let him push the door.”
(Oh, and she was a customer, not a Chapters employee, which would have made more sense.)
WHERE SHOPPING BASKETS ARE OFF-LIMIT
(I’m queuing at the cash register at the supermarket. I put my shopping basket on top of the stack, at the end of the register, and I’m waiting for the person in front of me to pay to unload it. Mark is holding onto my basket because putting the items on the conveyor belt is usually his job. A man comes behind us.)
The man to Mark: “Don’t touch.”
(I assume he needs a basket from the stack and I lift mine.)
The man, again, talking to Mark: “No. Don’t touch the baskets.”
Me: “I’m sorry, do you need one?”
The man: “No. I just don’t want him to touch the baskets.”
(No explanation was ever given. Again, he was a customer, not an employee.)
WHERE THE SUN IS EVIL
Our neighbourhood has a yearly garage sale. This year, I put some of Mark’s baby clothes for sale—I am not a huge fan of garage sales but the weather was nice and I thought Mark and I could play outside for a bit, on the front lawn.
Well, five (I counted!) different passersby instructed me to “put Mark in the shade” because “it was too hot”.
Never mind that I can’t really “put” Mark in the shade—he has two legs and tends to, you know, not stay at one place for very long… Oh and by the way, he did have sunscreen on, he was drinking water regularly and this is Canada, not the freaking Sahara desert!
WHERE EVEN BUSKERS KNOW BEST
(In Kensington Market, in Toronto, we queued to get Mark one of these “animal balloons”. The buskers ranted and ranted and sounded like he was high on helium or something. Finally, it was Mark’s turn.)
The busker handing out a bottle of sunscreen: “Did you remember to put sunscreen on your kid this morning?”
Me: “… Can you just make him a balloon?”
WHERE CIVIC DUTY DOESN’T TRUMP CHILDCARE
(I was watching the evening news when I realized I had completely forgotten I had to vote for the Ontario elections. I rushed to the polling station, still open.)
Me, joking: “I’m glad you’re still open! I have no excuse other than the fact I have a toddler and that most of the time, I don’t even know which day we are.”
The volunteer at the polling station: “Who is taking care of your child right now? How come he isn’t with you? You didn’t leave him home alone, did you?”
(In case you were wondering, no, Mark wasn’t home alone. He was with my in-laws that day. Gee.)