Monday, September 6, 2010

"Sommmmmmebody's hunnnnnngry!!!!"

What is it with total strangers who think they know what's best for your baby?

On this beautiful Labor Day I found myself at - of all places - the mall.
In my book, pushing a stroller at a moderate pace constitutes as cardio no matter where you are... and as long as I was doing something healthy I could live with the fact that I wasn't enjoying a perfect day outside.

But I digress.

So here we are, on Labor Day, at the mall, and I of course have a total game plan.
Exchange some clothes I received for the baby that aren't seasonal or already don't fit.
In and out, real quick, boom, boom, boom.
But it nevvvver works that way with a lil' one in tow.
The baby serves as a huge distraction for anyone within a two foot radius.
They have to "oooh" and "ahhhh" and give their assessment of your child's physical, mental, and behavioral state.

"Sommmmmmebody's hunnnnnngry!!!!"
"WOW, she's big!"
"Are you a good baby? You're a tired baby!"
"She wants to go home."

No shit. You mean my baby doesn't want to be sitting here, cooped up in her car seat with a total stranger making funny faces and ridiculous sounds in her face?
Aren't you supposed to be ringing up my items rather than cooing at my child or giving me your opinion about what's bothering her?

My favorite is the Israeli guy at the kiosk selling Dead Sea body products promising to make my skin firmer, brighter, and more even-toned.
He has a way of making every woman who walks past his stand feel incredibly beautiful.  EVERY WOMAN.  Every woman but me.
I'm not fooled. Especially since I'm usually passing him sporting messy hair and sweat pants.  
So I never stop. I don't want what he's selling, unless it's an actual trip to the Dead Sea.
But without fail, he tries to lure me into his evil web each and every time I pass. 
Today, as I'm whizzing in and out of the holiday crowd trying to make a beeline for the mother's lounge at Nordstrom so I can feed my child in peace and privacy, he beckons me over to try his latest salt scrub.  "Sorry, she's hungry. Gotta run," I say pointedly. But he's following me closely and flashes a smile that seems to say, "You know you want it. You know you want to slough off your entire day with this tub of sea minerals."
And I have to admit, there's something enticing about scrubbing myself squeaky clean with coarse salt crystals that cost more than they should.  But my showers these days consist of me choosing between shaving my legs or washing my hair, and there's rarely been a time that I've gotten through one lately without singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" to a laughing baby staring up at me from her bouncy seat.
"I really can't. Thanks."  This time Mr. Dead Sea backs off, acknowledging my baby, who at this point is trying to eat her own hands.
"Ohhhhh. She's hungry," he says with a nod.  
Thanks, salt scrub guy. 

Once we finish our business in the mother's lounge, I have one more stop to make. Again, this is supposed to be quick. I know what I need and what size I need and I don't even have to inconvenience the sales assistant with a time-consuming return or exchange.
But noooooo. This can't be that easy.  The nice woman behind the register has to come around the counter, cozy up next to me, and stick her nose in the stroller so far that my child begins to go cross-eyed trying to focus on her face.  "Oooooooooh, that's a pretty baby.  How old is he?"
She is three months old, as you ought to have figured out between the pink flower on her yellow body suit and the ballet slipper socks.
I bite my tongue and simply respond that Mackenzie just turned three months.
By now a line has formed behind me, and surprisingly the other patrons aren't annoyed by the fact that the sales woman has abandoned her post in order to admire my kid.
Instead, the accumulating customers become equally as wrapped up in the baby. The baby who they feel they know better than I do.

"Lunnnnnnch tiiiiime."
"Baby wants to eeeeeat."

Little do these women know that I've just fed my child, changed her diaper, fed her again, burped her, and played a little game of peekaboo before leaving the bathroom.
Growing more impatient with the sales associate and more annoyed with the chorus of know-it-all moms behind me, I begin talking to Mackenzie as if we're the only ones around.
"Yes sweet pea, I don't know what's taking so long."
"I know, they think you're still hungry.  Tell them we just had our lunch."

When I'm finally handed the over-priced onesie and my receipt I turn on my heel with a shrewd glance in the direction of the know-it-all moms and a huff towards the nice lady behind the counter.
As if they hadn't been there before.
As if they were so perfect.
How dare they tell me what my child needs.

No, thank you.  

I know what's best for my daughter. 
I don't need anyone else telling me what to do.

I head out the door with my head held high and a bounce in my step.  
But the sound of the store's security alarm kills my buzz almost instantly. 
It appears the friendly clerk forgot to remove the sensor from Mackenzie's new onesie.
And just like that, I sulked back to the register and the advice-sharing moms like the rookie that I am, completely and totally defeated.

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