Conversations in the Children’s Section
It’s no secret that I’m apprehensive about approaching the other mothers at story time. I’m making an attempt, but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome – my lifelong shyness being only one.
The Big Name bookstore that I go to is in a really nice neighborhood (average home price: almost a million). Of course, it’s adjacent to other neighborhoods which are less affluent and I’m sure there are plenty of regular story time attendees like me who don’t spend an average of ten thousand a year on vacations. I’m dead serious, that’s one of the stats I got when I was checking home prices. Holy crap. Anyway, the point I was trying to get at was that a good chunk of the adults are not parents. While I have nothing against striking up a conversation with the 26-year old grad student who is “just the babysitter,” there isn’t much potential for long term connection.
Of course, there is the daughter herself. The crowds at story time have gotten bigger post-Christmas, partly because Miss T is awesome and partly because it’s a frozen wasteland and entertainment options are limited. When there were only a handful of other children – five or six, tops – it was easy for me to keep her calm. Unlike me, Lorelei seems to be really outgoing and when there are so many people it’s as if she needs to say hello to EVERY! SINGLE! PERSON! It’s adorable, I won’t deny it. Unfortunately, when there are so many people to say hello to, it’s harder for me to navigate the kid’s area and keep her from trying to climb up the stage and get into the story time closet or pulling all the Sesame Street books off the shelf (why she gravitates to these, I do not know).
More people also mean more opportunities to steal things from the other kids. As much as I try to stop her from digging into the snack container that isn’t hers or taking a drink from that other baby’s sippy cup, I can’t always catch her in time. When it happens, I die of embarrassment on the inside. I don’t want to come across as one of those mother’s who just smiles like “isn’t my baby adorable” when she does something like that. So far, I’ve never had anyone get upset with me or her when she “steals” something, I’m sure the day will come when the mother is not so understanding. Luckily, Lorelei has a smile that can charm even the most “that’s mine!” kid – it helps that I’m usually prepared with a toy or snack for trade.
To sum (because I think I rambled quite a bit there), vast difference in economic status plus chasing a very active fourteen month old who tends to steal things does not lend itself to having a comfortable conversation with the other parents (when I can differentiate them from the nannies).
Today, in an effort to step out of my comfort zone and stretch myself, I made a point to stay a little longer and chat. I’ve talked Eve* and mother Sadie* before but I also met Dan* and his mom (whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch). Lorelei is the youngest of the three kids but Eve and Dan are only a few months older. It was all superficial, our eyes always on the kids as they colored on each other’s papers or keeping them from running to the other side of the store. Topics didn’t get much deeper than what a pain it was to travel with little ones – all three of us having recently made a trip to Ohio (what are the odds?) – and how none of them seemed to like cow’s milk. We’re all still breastfeeding, so there was a bit of bonding over being the “weird” mothers who still nursed their kids when they were over a year old. Maybe this was the first step.
One more quick story time related story: Lorelei loves Miss T. Loves. She was one of the first people she would wave to with any sort of regularity and without much prompting from me. Today, as she was getting into everything, she spent a good portion of the second book hugging Miss T. Then she would do a funny little shuffle dance back over to me and then go back over for another hug. It killed me. I love my affectionate little girl.