This has never happened to me before, and I’m so happy that it waited until I was ready.
Last night, Guo Ji Mama and I were at her son’s lacrosse game on our local fields. We ate a picnic from the Mexican place, left most of our respective broods happily playing in the park and sauntered over to sort of semi-watch the game. After a while, a largish blonde woman approached.
“Are zose your kids alone in ze playground?” she asked, in a German accent I will not be able to do justice to here.
I suspected we were in trouble, but what the heck, I’ll play. “Why yes,” I said. “Yes they are.” they’re not, in fact all mine–some were obviously GuoJi Mama’s, and I’d even left a friend’s kid over there for good measure–her parents were watching a baseball game even farther away. I at least could see the children, mostly. I could identify them by their shirts, and I could certainly see if they left the small fenced playground–there was nothing but grass and field in between us.
“You have left them zere unsupervised?”
“Yep.” I mean, what else am I going to say?
She sputtered. She really did. “Why?”
I thought that over and considered a number of smart-ass responses, but played it straight. “Because my ten-year-old is with them, and I think that’s appropriate.” He’s nine, but hey.
“Well eet is NOT.”
I didn’t have much to say to that, so I shrugged. But she wasn’t done.
“And you give them” here she mustered a deep breath and some more sputtering “Coke?”
I was drinking a Coke myself at that moment (the Mexican place sells the imported ones from Mexico, in glass bottles with real sugar, so it was a seriously classy Coke.) I toasted her. “With enthusiasm,” I said.
“Well zat ees just not RIGHT.”
I’m a little surprised, here–honestly I’ve made way more questionable parenting decisions in my time. I think I would have much better comebacks if you accused me of more serious offenses, but I was having trouble not laughing. But she wasn’t leaving.
“Well,” I finally said, “thanks for sharing your disapproval.”
“Where are you from?” she demanded. Now, I can think of a whole lot better answers now, but I was stuck with the truth. “Here,” I said.
“Here?!” I don’t know why that was so shocking–well, maybe it was the Coke–but it clearly was.
Here. In fact, I know most of these people, so if you want to go tell them what a bad parent I am, go right ahead.”
Unfortunately, she didn’t appear to want to (that would have been huge fun), and she disappeared into the parking lot. And that is the anticlimactic end of my story. The kids survived my negligence, and just to top it all off, after, we fed them gelato.
And now GuoJi Mama and I have a fantastic new catch phrase. “You give them COKE?” Actually–own it, baby–I don’t think GJ probably does give her kids Coke. But if she leaves them alone with me, I will!