Monday, February 23, 2009

two stories of parenthood

I drove Archie to work today and he told me about something he saw in the grocery store a while back. There was a woman on her cellphone, and he overheard her side of the conversation:

Woman: You spent the entire iTunes card? [pause] The whole thing? [pause] On what? [pause} Twilight? You spent the whole thing on Twilight?

This was when Archie laughed and he said the woman kind of looked around and then went back to her conversation with her teenage daughter, based on her side of the talk. And it reminded me of something that happened ages ago back before Archie and I had kids.

We were in a Blockbuster. As we walked around, looking for movies, we heard a child, whining to her mother and the mother saying no, repeatedly, and more and more resigned to the no. While we stood on line, we couldn't help but notice that the woman in front of the line was the same beleaguered mother we'd heard during our browsing -- we could tell because the whining child was next to her, continuing to whine. Finally, the daughter said, "You don't looooove me!" Now, let me describe the little girl to you. She was probably about four or five and adorable. She had on red patent leather Mary Janes and ruffly socks and a cute little dress and, from appearances, was very much loved. (Also, the fact that her mother was toeing the line and not giving in and also not tearing the child limb-from-limb was also a good indication that her mom loved her.) I couldn't help myself: I laughed out loud. The mother looked around and everyone in the line was laughing at the ridiculousness of that little girl declaring that she was unloved.

The mom looked at the child and said, "See? People are laughing at you!" And I laughed even harder.

I don't think it's very nice to tell your kid that people are laughing at them, but I certainly understand the impulse. You sometimes will grab hold of anything to help you be strong in the face of the never-ending whine. But I also love that the woman that Archie saw in the grocery store is our future. It just remains to be seen what will so captivate our future teenage daughters that they will spend an entire large iTunes card. Hopefully it won't be vampires, but who knows?

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