The kindness of strangers?

Setting: Generic supermarket. Harrassed-looking me navigates shopping trolley (always filled with just enough items to make it slightly unwieldy) replete with Lara in the front seat. Strange person (usually a middle-aged woman but very occasionally a man – in which case just replace all ‘she’ pronouns referring to Lara with ‘he’) randomly approaches.

Person Randomly Approaching Trolley: “Oooh, hello sweetheart! Aren’t you gorgeous? Hello! Helloooo!”

LARA: “…”

P.R.A.T.: “What’s your name then, Snookums?”

[LONG PAUSE. LARA STARES BLANKLY AT P.R.A.T. AS A LOOK OF SLOW COMPREHENSION DAWNS ON MY FACE]

ME: “Oh. Er, Lara.”

P.R.A.T.: “What a lovely name you’ve got, Lara! Are you going to give me a smile?”

[LARA BARES HER TEETH IN A SOMEWHAT MENACING FASHION]

P.R.A.T.: “What a beautiful smile! Look at all those teethy pegs! How old are you, Lara?”

ME: “Nearly ten months…”

P.R.A.T.: “Ten months! She’s a big girl, isn’t she?”

ME: “Um… Not really?”

[LONG PAUSE, DURING WHICH P.R.A.T. STARES INTENSELY AT MY FACE, WHICH BEGINS TO TAKE ON A LOOK OF INCREASING ALARM]

P.R.A.T.: “Just seeing if she looks like you. She doesn’t at all, does she.”

ME: “Oh. Er… maybe a little? But no, she does look more like her dad I guess…”

P.R.A.T. [SWIFTLY TURNS ATTENTION BACK TO LARA]: “Well I better get off – bye bye now! Can you say bye bye?”

ME: “Say bye bye Lara!”

[LARA STARES AT ME. I BEGIN WAVING MANIACALLY IN HER FACE]

ME: “Wave bye bye, Lara!”

[P.R.A.T. ALSO BEGINS WAVING IN LARA’S FACE. LARA BARES HER TEETH AGAIN]

LARA: “DUH! Duh Duh Duh, DUH!”

P.R.A.T.: “Ahhh! I think she likes me, don’t you sweetheart?”

[LARA BEGINS TO GROWL AND TURN RED]

ME: “Right! Off we go!”

 

And here’s that scene once again, with added thought voices for me and Lara.

ME: Come on then, let’s get this done before it gets too close to naptime and you start getting grouchy. Just dodge this OAP, and this other one and oh Christ here she comes…

Person Randomly Approaching Trolley: “Oooh, hello sweetheart! Aren’t you gorgeous? Hello! Helloooo!”

LARA: “…Who the bloody hell are you?…”

P.R.A.T.: “What’s your name then, Snookums?”

LARA: Snookums?

ME: Well obviously she’s not going to answer you, can’t you see she’s like ten months old?

LARA: Snookums?

[PAUSE]

LARA: FOR GOD’S SAKE MOTHER WILL YOU WAKE UP AND TELL HER MY NAME’S NOT SNOOKUMS!

ME: Oh, you’re looking at me now. OH, I’m supposed to answer. Gotcha. “Oh. Er, she’s Lara.”

P.R.A.T.: “What a lovely name you’ve got, Lara! Are you going to give me a smile?”

LARA: Really. After Snookums? REALLY?

ME: Come on, smile. Just smile at the old dear and maybe she’ll leave us alone

P.R.A.T.: “What a beautiful smile! Look at all those teethy pegs! How old are you, Lara?”

LARA: Actually, I was doing Hannibal Lecter. I’ll eat your liver with a nice Chianti

ME: “Nearly ten months…” Getting used to this talking-to-someone-who-is-talking-to-someone-else-but-expecting-me-to-answer now. Feel a bit like a horse whisperer or Dr Dolittle.

P.R.A.T.: “Ten months! She’s a big girl, isn’t she?”

LARA: I BEG YOUR PARDON?

ME: “Um… Not really?”

[PAUSE]

ME: Ok this is getting a bit weird. She’s gone from not looking at me at all to staring with the intensity of very unBritish owl. She’s actually squinting a bit. I really hope she’s not having a stroke.

P.R.A.T.: “Just seeing if she looks like you. She doesn’t at all, does she.”

ME: “Oh. Er… maybe a little? But no, she does look more like her dad I guess…”

Sigh. I know it is perfectly true that my child does not look a whole lot like me but it still annoys me a tiny bit when a stranger points this out because it feels, just a tiny bit, as if they are negating, just a tiny bit, the fact of my spending 41 weeks carrying her around in my body and then 40 odd hours of expelling her thusly.

P.R.A.T. [SWIFTLY TURNS ATTENTION BACK TO LARA]: “Well I better get off – bye bye now! Can you say bye bye?”

ME: “Say bye bye Lara!”

LARA: Are you insane, mother? You know I can only say five syllables and ‘bye’ is not one of them!

ME: “Wave bye bye, Lara!”

LARA: Shan’t. First she calls me Snookums and then she calls me fat. “DUH! Duh Duh Duh, DUH!” This is not babble. This is what I think of you all.

P.R.A.T.: “Ahhh! I think you like me, don’t you sweetheart?”

LARA: Actually, madam, I’m trying to defecate.

Me: “Right! Off we go!”

 

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About Jmb

Writer, journalist, mummy, redhead, wine lover, fan of epic fantasy* and Devon-girl-at-heart. Started out as a local newspaper reporter in the cowpatty-idylls of South Devon at the tender age of 21. Since then I have dabbled in radio, TV, online journalism, b2b and novel-writing. After finding self unexpectedly knocked up in January 2013, I gave birth to my blue-eyed girl the following September. Two house moves, one (very soggy) wedding, two unpublished (and several works-in-progress) novels, one triumphant return to work, two 30th birthdays and a LOT of wine later, baby number 2 is expected in the summer of 2017. *and by that I mean staring at Kit Harrington whilst the vast majority of all politically spellbinding, ethically ambiguous and incestuously gratuitous content in Game of Thrones blithely passes me by. View all posts by Jmb

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