Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Ram-bunctious Moment

The other day, I was at Safeway standing in line, my hands full and my patience thin. It was one of those days where my Megatron Attitude was prevailing and there was no telling who was going to get smacked in the face with a banana.

Naturally, I'd just run to the store for one or two things. We all know how this ends. Cut to me trying to balance forty two things in my arms while someone behind me gets WAY TOO CLOSE and suddenly the cashier needs fifteen price checks while the runner is on break.

In front of me was a man and his daughter, who was probably about four years old, and they were playing a game together.



The game was, apparently, Ram Passive Daddy in the Leg with the Shopping Cart While He Pretends it's not as Bad a Parenting Moment as We're all Judging Him For.

And I know it was, because I'm fairly certain I heard his ankle bone crack and the accompanying expression pretty much released any doubt in my mind. The girl was laughing and asking her dad if it hurt, then ramming him harder. When he asked her to stop, she screamed NO at him and continued her death-ram.

I watched this ridiculous situation unfold in front of me and then my recently partially-educated brain kicked in and started analyzing the exchange. (You know how when you buy a new car, suddenly all you notice is how many of the same make and model are out there? Yeah.) Textbook images flashed across my brain. My Mom-Sense spoke to me. It was all very awesome.

Passive Dad caught my eye and, apparently, misinterpreted my wrinkled lip curl as encouraging  because he smiled and made some much-too-long-for-my-personal-comfort eye contact.

That's also the exact moment when the little brat clued in to what Dad was up to and she looked up at me.

Lil B: [narrowing eyes] Hello.

Me: Hi. [narrowing back, only mine were more intimidating because I'm much larger than a four year old and also I knew I was stooping to her level but whatever. We all have moments of regret]

I gave that little fake smile that all females perfect by age six and nodded, knowing all the while that I was going to hell for engaging in a showdown with a child.

But seriously? I was in a rush. I needed to get home and slap dinner on the table, I had a list of To Do's a mile long and I had to pee.

Mostly, I was scared the kid was going to ram me next and I have very weak ankles. Seriously. Last night my leg fell asleep and when I stood up I rolled my ankle and fell. Three times. I'm aware of my inhibitions. Besides, if Lil B broke my ankle, I was pretty sure she would throw my carcass in that cart, haul me off and devour my soul. As a redhead, THAT'S MY JOB.

Lil B and I eyed each other for a brief moment. The kid looked into my eyes and I swear to Gawd I could see into her little black soul and I didn't like it.

She stared at me.

Normally, I am very friendly with kids (hello, my profession is what? Yeah.) and I can reciprocate an exchange with a child and it all goes very swimmingly. This one made me nervous. (Please know that during the Stare Down she was still ramming her dad in the leg with the cart. WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING. She was that good)

Lil B's dad chose that moment to speak up.

P Dad: She likes you.

I glanced up at him. Alright, random stranger. Plus, I don't think she did. I looked down at Lil B and she was staring at my midsection. Nobody likes it when anybody does that, but it's especially weird when a child does it.

I gave one of those half smiles that don't reach the eyes and mumbled something in a non-committal way.

P Dad: Maybe I could get your number and you two could get to know each other.

WHAT. Like. A play date with Satan? No thanks. I think what you're looking for is a priest.

Me: Um. I'm sorry. I just don't think so.

Lil B continued to stare at me. I began to feel more and more nervous. What if this whole thing turned out like Cape Fear and Lil B crawled up under my car and rode home with me? I'm not Catholic. I don't have any crosses in my house. We would all die.

The dad shrugged, most likely used to being turned down by fearful strangers.

He left. I left. Through the opposite door.

Just to be safe, when I drove home, I parked in Rawr's diveway.

What? Her 4 would take that kid out in two seconds flat.

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