Thursday, December 22, 2011

kindly or creepy?

Today I had a MMOD.  You know, a mama moment of decision.  Perhaps you call yours a DMOD if you are a dad, or a PMOD if you either go by Papa or prefer to share the moments of decision with both parenting partners and use the term parenting moment of decision.

In any case, I had a MMOD today at the grocery store.  I had just taken Wolfie and Tulip to get their hair cut, and then headed to a grocery store I rarely frequent because 1) Gabe does 98% of the grocery shopping and 2) he does it at a different grocery store.  But for some reason he went to a new store earlier this week and had asked me to pick up something he had forgotten.

So the big kids and I were having a new grocery store adventure.  A good one.  My kids are dreamy at the grocery store.  They are well behaved, helpful, and so good-natured about shopping.  I'm not being vain; Gabe and I are truly fortunate.  For example, the kids love to look at the cakes.  They ooh and aah at the cakes without asking or whining for any.  They simply like looking at the cakes.  It's fun.

Next we were looking around in the seasonal aisle having a jolly ol' time.  And then a thing happened...

An elderly gentleman in a motorized chair came cruising up behind us while the kids were looking at candy canes.  Now, I'm not being judgmental or stereotypical here, I'm just trying to create some imagery.

And he said, "Are these your children?"

Now, people, all sorts of people. often comment about my children in the grocery store.  Again, I'm not being vain.  Perhaps it's where we live.  Perhaps we shop places grandparently types shop and these grandparently types like to talk to people with children because they miss their own grandchildren.  Maybe, just maybe, people who work in grocery stores or frequent grocery stores are impressed with how my children enjoy the grocery store and feel compelled to connect with my family.  Maybe people are just friendly...I don't know.

But this guy.  This guy rubbed me the wrong way.  And maybe it was just me.

He says, "Do you know what's the best thing for children?  Tennis rackets.  You get yourself some tennis rackets..."

Stop right here.  What are you thinking?  I was thinking that this guy was about to advise me to discipline my children with tennis rackets.  I don't know why my brain went there but it did.  I mean, and again I'm not judging, but he seemed like a bit of an oddball.  Not because he was elderly, or in a motorized chair.  It was something about his demeanor.  Approaching us like that.  He had no basket.  He was not shopping.  He was not with anyone.  He was not trying to get at something in the seasonal aisle and therefore occupying the same space as us.  I just had this feeling that he saw us, motored over, and solicited a conversation.

Maybe he's a lonely friendly guy.  I don't know.  But I'm a mom and I didn't appreciate the way this guy was wedging himself into my family moment.

He rambled on some more about playing sports (okay so maybe he wasn't implying that I discipline my children by whacking them with a tennis racket) but I was already ruffled by this guy so I had little patience for his rambling.

Then, here's the kicker, he says towards Tulip's back (since she was really carefully inspecting those candy canes), "Is this your girl?  Let me see her again.  Turn around [sweetie or honey or some such term of affection]."  Tulip did turn around and he says, "Oh, you're so pretty.  What's your name?"

MMOD.  Fur shure.  I have friendly conversations with people in stores all the time.  But I had it with this guy.

I said, "We aren't talking to strangers today."

I feel fine about my MMOD.  I do.  I don't feel guilty for possibly hurting some stranger's feelings.  I also don't want to be one of those moms obsessed with stranger danger who teaches my children to not trust the world because, like I said, I have friendly conversations with people in stores all the time and I think that is a nice positive slice of humanity.  Go out and engage in pleasantries.

But not today.  Not this.  I didn't want this from this guy and I let him know while modeling for my children that when a stranger makes you feel uncomfortable, you appropriately tell him you don't want to (and are not obliged to) talk.

Have you had any PMODs lately?


  1. I'm finding most of my parenting moments of decision lately have to do with explaining words and expressions Addison picks up here, there, and everywhere. That's fun.

    And you had every right to cut the conversation short and scoot. I guess it just sounds like at the very least he lacks some social boundary awareness, and that's not the type of person you want to trust around your kids. Probably harmless, and I kind of want to know the secret of the tennis rackets. But all in all, it sounds like he was only going to get creepier the more he talked. Good call.