Monday, January 07, 2013

Overheard at the Park

Today we finally get back to real life. All of our activities and baby classes and whatnot start back up again, THANK GOD, and no more Christmas vacation. I'm thrilled.

For the past few weeks we've been spending a lot of time at the park, which has been a lot of fun, but wow, people are so weird. I must share.

And lest someone get all up on my case about being judgmental of other parents, I'd like to explain that I have cultivated a very nice group of normal, fun moms and their kids. I have found some, miraculously. They DO exist in South Florida. But there are also some really weird people too.

There's a mother I see often and I've taken to calling her NPR, as in National Public Radio, because she reminds me of that old SNL skit where they used to make fun of the shows on NPR for being so monotone and boring. This mother speaks in the most annoying, affected way and she sounds like she's hosting the world's dullest NPR show. I just want to shake her and yell "INFLECTION! INTONATION!! SPEAK THE FUCK UP! SHOW SOME EMOTION!" 

The weirdest contradiction though, is that while she speaks with this constantly soft, robotic tone, she is the most quietly hysterical woman I've ever seen, which I think is the real reason she gets on my nerves. If she were simply quiet and calm, I might find her soothing to be around, but she's not. She always seems on the verge of exploding, except she never does. If she'd just start yelling and cussing then maybe I might be able to relate to her a little better.

Here is an example of this woman's madness. Some background, she has a son that is between one and two and she is ridiculously over protective. This is what I overheard her saying to another mother:

"Yes, so I had to end the friendship because I simply cannot be friends with someone who doesn't share my values and who would endanger Poet like that."

The other mother nodded in apparent sympathy.

"I was honestly appalled," NPR continued, "That I was friends with someone who would give Poet a non-organic strawberry."

"I mean, how did she not know?" the other mom said, "Strawberries are on the dirty dozen list."

"Exactly, exactly. And ever since, I can't shake the feeling that Poet has been contaminated in some way, that he has lost his innocence. I was terrified. I watched him for several days for signs of a reaction," NPR sighed, tragically.

"Did you notice anything?" the other mom asked.

NPR shook her head, "He isn't the same child."

This is where my nosy ass had to butt in because seriously, come the fuck on.

"So let me clarify, Poet had ONE non-organic strawberry? That's it?' I asked.

"Well, she would have given him several more had I not stepped in, but alas, I was too late and he'd swallowed it," NPR confirmed.

And instead of shouting "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??" like I wanted to, I needed to know how POET (for the love of Jesus F-ing Christ) was "not the same child" as he had been pre-non-organic strawberry poisoning.

"He's grabbing things. Constantly. Grabbing. Getting into things around the house," NPR said.

"How old is your son?" I asked.

"He's 73 weeks tomorrow," she said, "not counting his gestational age."

Whatever that is. Ok, so I did some complicated math on my phone to figure out how old this freaking kid was.

"So he's 18 months?" I asked.

"Yes. 73 weeks," NPR nodded.

"And he's getting into things and grabbing things?" I asked.

She nodded again.

"You DO know that that's what toddlers do, right? I mean, my child spends her entire waking existence trying to grab, get into, climb on and consume things that will kill her. If she could play with nothing but guns, fire, poison and knives she'd be thrilled," I said.

"Poet is also climbing."

"My child is at this very second climbing," I said.

"Have you looked at her diet? Are you feeding her gluten?" NPR looked genuinely concerned.

I glanced around at the playground where several children were happily climbing on pretty much every structure available to climb on and wondered if bread was to blame for the terrible proliferation of monkey bars and jungle gyms that plague our society. I pondered the possibility that if, back in the days when people fertilized their gardens with fish heads and cow shit, children were silent and obedient and always, always kept their hands to themselves and looked only with their eyes and not with their hands. Hmm, I mean, the kids in the Laura Ingalls books were pretty well behaved come to think of it, and Amish kids seems pretty low-maintenance as well, but might that be because they're all getting their asses beat with sticks on a regular basis and not because of the lack of fumigated fruits in their diets?

And right then I was saved by the bell. The bell on the ice cream truck that is, because when the ice cream truck arrives all the mothers who are scared that their kids might eat something with pesticide on it scatter as fast as a frightened flock of robins. You've never seen a place clear out so fast in your life and this is one of the most politically incorrect things I've ever written, but I'm saying it anyway. When the ice cream truck comes to the park, all of the neurotic, suburban, rich white mothers sweep up their children and buckle them in their car seats so fast you'd think someone was about to detonate a suitcase bomb over by the seesaws, and all that's left are the black kids who get their rocket pops and chocolate eclairs and strawberry shortcake bars, finally glad they have the park to themselves without all the crazy assed, rich white people getting in the way spoiling all the fun. It really is a strange thing to witness.

But not as strange as the ice cream man turf war that's also going on.

So Baby Lawns has a friend and her friend has a cool dad who is apparently normal and laid back and not an effing nut log like NPR and I ran into him last week at the park with his little girl on his day off and here comes the ice cream truck and there go all the terrified rich white ladies in a squeal of Land Rover tires and Cool Dad and I are left looking at the ice cream truck and Cool Dad informs me that there is a battle going on. A few days earlier, Cool Dad told me that one ice cream truck came and went and a few minutes later another ice cream truck showed up and the driver got out in a fury demanding of everyone present if another ice cream truck has just been there because this park was HIS dammit. He was outraged. It was like drug dealers or something. Good Humor mafia. Don't mess with the ice cream man.  Damn. Who knew?

So yeah, that's my park. I think we'll go this afternoon. Just to see what happens. I may bring some conventional fruit with me too and maybe some change for a Nutty Buddy. 



Saffron said...

I understand the ice cream truck wars, the truck drivers pay premium money to the park system to be allowed to sell there and have exclusivity contracts. The other dude basically stole from him.

Yeah, NPR is the kind of nuts I can't stand. She'll wonder down the road why her child was hit by every allergy under the sun. Mark my words.

Headant said...

One strawberry--I'm surprised NPR didn't call the police.
I actually had my husband chase down an ice cream truck once...

Plume said...

I'm sure I would BE NPR if I had children, that's why I don't and won't ;)

Anonymous said...

Loved it.

L. in CA

Dawn said...

Oh, I am SO happy to have those days behind me (even though I miss them sometimes, too). Can we pay you to feed Baby Lawns some Trix yogurt in front of NPR?

Vic said...

The best advice you never got in introduction to public speaking.
This was hysterical.

JoeinVegas said...

But the strawberry wasn't organic - you just don't understand. I hope she wasn't contaminated by just talking to you.

Anonymous said...

In one of the LHOTP books Laura and Mary got in trouble for climbing the haystack and jumping and sliding on it until it was flat. Twice. They probably had some rye-n-injun bread that had been tainted with ergot.


Anonymous said...

She named her kid 'Poet'? Yeah. He's either going to die of drugs in an alley somewhere, or live in her basement till the end of time. She'd probably prefer the latter.

Parents like this are among the many reasons I don't want kids.

TJ said...

Just wait till she has another kid or two. He'll be licking non-organic strawberries off her driveway and she won't care.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick said...

OMG, this is hilarious. I hope you're planning to kidnap Poet and save her from a life of NPR-decibel misery.

Kim Proctor-Day said...

I'm with Dawn ... feed baby lawns a gogurt or something normal,and casually just film her reaction for our entertainment ? maybe top it off with a popsicle lol

mcgrimus said...

15 years later...

Poet: I don't know why, but the music from that truck is making me really anxious.

Friend: You mean the ice cream truck?

Poet: You can buy ice cream from a truck?!

faded said...

When the kid turns 15 and the hormones take over, momma won't know what hit her. The kid will be so wound up he will hit momma several time and then turn into a crazed mass murderer.

Melanie said...

I've read this column several times since it was posted -- it's just that good! Everything in there is funny but the special touch that you add, being the writer, such as the names you make up for the characters (Poet! LOL!) -- things like that -- those are the things that elevate this column to a high art. Keep entertaining us, please! Also, I hope to be able to buy these columns in a book form some day. That would be awesome. :)

Green said...

This is awesome. You are my kind of mommy blogger. Next time you see NPR tell her you've been thinking a LOT about what she said and you agree. Poet DOES seem different. Has she considered having him professionally evaluated?

Anonymous said...

As someone getting an advanced degree in environmental issues, I know the chemicals used on strawberries are the worst for the environment, and for the workers, and they don't wash off. And it can be scary learning about all of this, so maybe she's just dealing with her anxiety the best she can. If you are interested, Sandra Steingraber is a scientist, activist and respected writer on the subject of the environment, chemicals,and children.

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