It’s no secret that I’m not the most kid friendly of people. Most women my age are clamoring to have children, overtaken by baby fever. I could not be further from that person. My birthday was more of a concern of “Is this the job I wanted/place I wanted to have landed at 29? When am I going to get to travel again? Is there a move somewhere in my not too distant future?”
I’m far too selfish to have a child, and quite frankly the only time it came up in a discussion was when my friend and I were in college discussing that, both being blondes with blue eyes, we could produce a child with those coveted traits and sell it to score some cash as the broke travel junkies we were. Even though this was brought up in jest as a way to make a quick buck, the plan was quickly abandoned when we got into an argument over the percentages that each of us would earn from this task.
I was standing in a Starbucks the other day, and this woman was goo-ing and gah-ing over her kid, who was probably about two. I only wanted a coffee, and this kid was running up and down through the already crammed line, grabbing food from the display as the mom would kindly and gently laugh and tell him “no” in a baby voice. People in the line seemed to be eating it up, while I scowled and saw a little kleptomaniac in the making. Plus he was touching all of the food with his germ-ridden little hands.
“How cute is he?” cooed the woman behind me.
I ignored the kid as he stood next to me at the counter. I ordered my coffee, keeping my distance so he didn’t touch me with those grimy little fingers.
That isn’t to say I don’t like all kids. I don’t like ill-behaved kids, and the maternal instinct that most women have is not inside of me. But I’m not completely heartless. I have a lot of cousins I’ve watched grow up that I’m rather fond of and would do anything for. And my friend has a child I have a soft spot for who affectionately calls me “Aunt Carly” who I even willingly volunteer to watch. Because I think that’s a title I can work with and live up to, I make sure to buy him cute things, like Walking Dead baby clothes and t-shirts from places I travel.
So when I was at the bus stop after a long day at work and a child started running circles around me, I was not amused as everyone pointed and gushed over him as he belted out “Let It Go” at the top of his lungs. I looked around for a guardian who would read my look of annoyance and remove him from my circle of comfort.
I spotted his grandma a sitting on a bench, casually yelling his name a few times, and then giving up as if she was over the whole thing. I glared and her, wondering why she thought it was ok for him to run wild at a bus terminal station, which clearly seemed like a terrible idea.
I rested my massive red faux alligator skin bag (affectionately nicknamed “The Poppins” by my coworkers as the handbag is huge, and I have a plethora of items with me from my laptop, to an umbrella, to my lunch, to a full medicine cabinet for whatever ailment someone might have) on the cement barrier behind me. It’s become an ongoing joke for my coworkers to ask me for whatever they need, because it likely exists somewhere within the magical walls of the Poppins.
Needless to say the bag is not light. So I’ve taken to leaning against the cement post and resting my bag on it while I wait for my bus to arrive. Yes, the kid was getting on my nerves with the Frozen song and the running in circles, but I wasn’t about to cave and give up my resting spot.
That’s when he decided to climb up onto the post and start climbing over my bag. I sighed and moved under the shade of a nearby tree, giving up my coveted spot and taking on every pound of the Poppins for the duration of my wait. Then the kid jumped off and started playing in the dirt at the base of the tree and looking up at me.
I didn’t know why he was so obsessed with me, but clearly no one had ever had the conversation about “stranger danger” with him or invading people’s personal space. I thanked God when the bus pulled up and I sat down, placing the Poppins in the seat next to me to prevent my little stalker from sitting down beside me.
While he didn’t try and squeeze his way into the spot occupied by the Poppins, he also didn’t refrain from running up and down the aisle of the bus, wiping his muddy hands all over the seats. I was concerned he was going to face plant and lose some teeth, but was more worried by the fact that his grandmother had clearly just given up on disciplining him at all, even if it was to prevent him from getting a bloody nose.
Because I don’t possess either children or patience, I tend to get annoyed when some kid interferes with my day to day life, typically due to bad parenting. For example, I was running behind in catching a bus when a family of four all wearing Crocs was meandering into an ice cream shop, taking up the entire sidewalk.
I wanted to push past them, but I couldn’t decide if that was too rude or not, considering the one child clearly did not want to be wearing those shoes, and I couldn’t blame him for his parents’ fashion choices. He was dragging his feet all over the place in protest. While I appreciated the tantrum he was throwing in honor of hating those shoes, I didn’t appreciate that he was moving at a snail’s pace and likely making me late.
I glanced back and saw the bus a few blocks away. I stressed, knowing I had to make it to a friend’s house before a certain time, and I was going to have to break my cardinal pedestrian rule: Don’t run.
It’s never graceful, only awkward and unbecoming for me. I don’t like to break a sweat, and running in public is something I gave up years ago. I don’t own a pair of tennis shoes, unless Chuck Taylors count. And while I contemplated breaking through this family chain, the ice cream shop was only two more doors down before I could book it to the bus stop.
“Be nice. You need to be nicer,” I thought to myself. “It’s a family. They are having a good day. Don’t ruin it.”
The internal conflict was deep, but they turned off, and I watched the bus pass me. So I swallowed my pride and let my awkwardness break through as I became the person I hated: I was now the girl running after the bus and waving it down like a crazy lady. The driver shut the doors before I got there, so I figured while I was already on the crazy train, I may as well commit to the act, so I started banging on those doors. He looked at me, sighed, and opened them up.
I wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone on the bus, as I was sure they watched the whole display, but I figured I’d never see them again so it would be fine. And I didn’t ruin a kid’s day who was wearing Crocs, so I suppose my shame was a small price to pay.