I understand that having a cute baby, not to mention a cute baby with cute, pink, baby hearing aides draws more attention than I did, even on my most put-together looking days. But I have honestly had more interactions with complete strangers in the one year of Sweet Pea’s existence than I had in all of the 30 years B.C. combined. I can sort all of these strangers into two general categories: those who renew my faith in humanity and those who renew my faith in the “don’t talk to strangers” rule.
Let’s start with group #1. These are the strangers who will hold open a door when they see me pushing the stroller. Gone are the days of the feminist in me thinking “thanks, but due to hours at the gym, years of weight training, yoga and pilates (not to mention these two hands I have) I am perfectly capable of opening a door.” Now, I still can open a door, but not without turning the stroller backward, and trying to hold the door open long enough with my short girl arms so that it doesn’t bang shut on said stroller while I whirl it back around the other way. Or using the handicapped presser thingy that takes so long to open the door I forget what I came for in the first place. So, if you see a woman with a stroller, hold the door for her. You’ll make her day. These are also the strangers who will pull out a cart for me when they see me come in with one arm full of hearty Sweet Pea and the other full of eco-friendly reusable shopping bags. Deaf child or no, cursing at the 5th cart I’ve tried to wrangle free is not the pinnacle of good parenting. I also enjoy the strangers who offer a simple “isn’t she cute?” or see me signing to her and ask how to say “you’re pretty” in sign language. I remember, fondly, each of these strangers and their acts of random kindness.
But how can I ever forget those strangers in the second category and their acts of completely random strangeness?! There are all of the people who, during the height of swine flu season mind you, would come up to S.P. snuggled in her cocoon of blanket and car-seat carrier and reach in and actually TOUCH her! If you have never been a parent of a newborn this is a HUGE no-no! They have no immunity yet and can’t take anything more powerful than baby Tylenol if they get sick. For months, not even people in my own family were allowed to touch her without bathing in Germ-X first. Thank goodness for baby wipes in the ever present diaper bag to swab S.P. down after stranger touchings until I could get her home for a proper bleaching. Equally aggravating are the strangers who want to know everything about my baby and expect me to take notes on all of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and pet rocks in the middle of the grocery store. Again, if you have never had a baby, you may not be aware of baby schedules. But babies (and more importantly their mommies) are usually on an eating, playing and sleeping schedule which, especially at first, leaves little extra time for Mommy to pee, much less hear all about how much Timmy weighed when he was born. I even had one woman launch into a very in-depth conversation about how long and how much she breast fed both of her sons who are most likely going to end up in therapy or on Ru-Paul’s Drag Race Season #3. This was a total stranger! In the middle of the produce section! I don’t care if you are the president of the La Leche League, do not be this woman.
I hope you all, like me, have filed these experiences away in that little part of your brain that you rely on in those “should I or shouldn’t I” moments of life. And for Gerber’s sake, hold the door open for that poor woman with the stroller.