You know when strangers ask you ridiculous questions and, at first you don’t mind, but after you’ve fielded the question fifty or so times you begin to get peeved?
Well, I’ve begun to get peeved.
It’s not uncommon for cashiers, salespeople, and random strangers to ask me questions about my son, or my daughter, or my younger son, when we’re out and about. And perhaps it’s me who makes the mistake of volunteering information that both enables and encourages such ridiculous exchanges. One particular question, however, has begun to pluck my strings for whatever reason, so I’ve decided to formulate a few responses, to, well, shake things up a bit.
This is usually how it goes:
Matthew, at register: “Hi! Hi! (making register sounds) Boop! Boop! Thank you!”
Cashier: “Oh! He’s cute! Can I give him a sticker?”
Me, thinking about how and from whence I will have to remove the damned thing: “Sure! Stickers are his favorite!”
Cashier, giving him a sticker: “How old is he?”
Me, making my repeated fatal error: “He’s twenty-seven months. I also have fourteen-month-old twins.”
Cashier, looking around fearfully: “Well, where are they?”
First, I swallow my aggravation like a mouthful of jagged, stale pizza crust, and then explain that they are a) at home with Dada, b) at Grammy’s, c) at Auntie’s, or d) some permutation thereof. I then continue about how difficult it is to travel and/or shop with three children aged two and under, outline the logistics of said travel, and highlight the blatant impossibility of actually roving a store with all of my children and items in a carriage. And then we laugh, and I walk outside, where I am free to roll my eyes and mumble under my breath all the way to the car.
But, as you can see, it’s my fault. Completely. For all they know (except the people in Babies R Us, who know I have three), I have one. Just him. And I could (and probably should) keep up that ruse when we go out. I don’t know why I don’t.
I imagine the driving force is probably guilt, though. Perhaps, deep down, I feel like I should be able to explore far and wide, picking up industrial size boxes of diapers and toilet paper and Lysol wipes as I go, juggling three ornery toddlers with varied appetites, temperaments, and tolerances for being in public, on a unicycle, up and down the aisles, like a circus performer. Perhaps I feel guilty that I can’t push two (or three) carts at once, struggling through the store, holding my Mom Card out in front of my face the whole time.
That said, I think the easiest thing to do is just put it all on them.
So, when I’m feeling particularly spicy, or just sat in traffic for an hour, or forgot to get gas, or, you know, once I finally snap, I’ve decided on a few things to say:
They’re in the car. Don’t worry. It’s running, and all the windows are up.
No hablo Inglés.
Right here, in the carriage. Say hi to the lady, guys!
They’re at home, asleep. I usually get back before they wake up.
My husband got them in the divorce. Him and his slutbag girlfriend. That filthy, no-good, two-timing bastard…
Well, the last time I saw them, I was in Housewares…
What are you, the FBI??
(Burst into tears and run out the door)
The fire station. They have that dropoff, right? Free babysitting! (Hold out fist to knuckle bump the cashier)
Dammit! I KNEW I forgot something!
My attorney advised me not to answer this question.
I found this GREAT nanny on Craigslist! Let’s hope it works out!
The (air quotes) state said I was (air quotes) unfit. They don’t know I kept this one. Shhh…
Ok, fine. I admit, it’s part my stupidity, part theirs. But really. Where are they? At the corner of Nunya Business and Do Your Job. Seriously.