I didn’t hear what she said. I tried nodding and smiling, but she kept looking at me. My head’s been stuffy, I’ve been staying up too late, and fill in the blank with every other excuse as to why I was “spacing out” rather than processing the words coming from a stranger’s mouth. I knew I couldn’t just say “yes”; because what little I did hear, along with the look on her face, told me an actual thought-out response was in order. Ugh.
“What’s that?” I said sheepishly.
“How old is she?” She said; I thought there was more. The “she” was our three year-old daughter, and I now wished my sheepish response was a bite of venom. How old is she? Look and guess, can’t you see I’m a bit out of sorts, does it really matter what her age is? Why are you feeling it’s important to ask me this question? Leave me alone, get away, and 27, there, she’s 27.
“Oh, she’s 3. A tall three at that.” I said with a fake nervous laugh, pat of the head showing Haze’s height, and shuffling feet. I might as well have been in an Ice Cream truck with tinted windows. I walked away holding (grabbing) Haze’s hand and went somewhere else where we wouldn’t be bothered.
On the way home I played the situation over again in my mind, and realized how I must’ve been perceived. I wondered how many of the “words” I thought actually came out of my mouth. No, pretty sure I said, “She’s three” and moved on. I’m usually a pretty friendly person, I like to talk to people, and kids are a gateway to meeting new adult friends, but then there are those days that I, like all of us, am not quite myself and want to be left alone.
I feel bad when I have these encounters; I wish I had been more myself. I hope the person that witnessed it doesn’t make determinations of who I am based off of a quick exchange, but I’m guessing that she knows half the town and already put out an APB on the unfriendly guy with the cute, and tall according to his awkward response, kid.
My Papa Sense tells me:
How many times have you found yourself in public completely lost in thought, trying to come to terms with a “life event”, or wanting to be alone but you have to be out of the home because of someone or something else? Missing your cue to step up to the ticket window, get out of a shopping carts way, or answer a question from a stranger. Wishing you could wear a shirt that says “Really spacey and introspective today. Please try again when my eyes make contact with yours.”
How many times do you get upset because the person in front of you is holding up the line, won’t move out of your way, or tell you where they got the organic mustard?
We are all sharing this space, and there isn’t a single day that we will all be at our peak level simultaneously. I try to remember where people may be at in their day, in hopes that they will do the same for me. Although, I know I make some pretty harsh judgments as well.
I’m guessing that we don’t make assumptions based off of one encounter – funny – there’s that whole “first impression” line. I live like that sometimes and it makes me angry. Like we’re all auditioning for something. I want our girls to know that they don’t always have to “be on their game, giving it their all”, and I don’t want them thinking “You never know who’s watching.” It stiffens our natural motions while moving through our day as emotional beings.
Most of us are busy and too spaced out to know or care what anybody else is acting like. I’m sure that the woman who asked about Haze’s age was in her own post-three-year-old-meltdown stupor and felt compelled to speak to the person next to her. She just happened to ask the overly self-aware dad – little did she know she broke my writers block.