I Met Those Old Ladies Today

A black one and a white one. Drinking hot beverages at a table at the New Westminster Farmer’s Market; last one of the season.

I had walked to the end of the market, which was set up in a parking lot outside Mizzle city hall. I had Fresco in the carrier, perilously close to sleep, and Trombone in the buggy, eating an apple chip (organic!) and mentioning every thirty seconds or so that I had promised him popcorn. I stood, regrouping, thinking about dinner, not noticing that they were staring at us.

“Ohhhhh,” said old lady A, “you should have him bundled up!”
“Poor thing,” said old lady B, “look, his ankles are chilly!”

I looked down at Fresco, wearing a sweater, a knit hat with pompom, strapped to my body. It was the coldest day of the Fall, so far, but it was still 10C outside.

Old lady A grabbed at Fresco’s foot, well encased by a wool sock and monkey slipper. She tugged at the sock, pulled it up over his pant cuff.

“Look, he’s freezing!” she said to her friend, “he should be in one of those all-over suits, you know the ones.”
“Poor thing,” repeated her friend.
“Actually,” I said, “he’s quite warm. He’s all bundled up next to me, you see, and I’m quite warm so – ”
“Oh,” said old lady B, “she’s toughening him up. She wants him to take on the world.”
“I love babies,” commented old lady A, “and you know what else? They love ME.”
“It’s a boy, right?” said old lady B, “It’s wearing blue.”
“Yes. He’s a boy.”

“I want popcorn,” said Trombone.
“We have to go get popcorn,” I explained as I kicked at the brake of the buggy.
“She said it has sugar in it,” warned old lady A, pointing at B.
“Not very much,” said old lady B, sipping her drink, “maybe just get a small bag.”
“Thanks for the tip,” I said.

I bought a large bag. Trombone didn’t like the popcorn (fresh popped kettle corn; crazy guy who pops it no extra charge!) because of the “stem” (ah, toddlers) so I got it all to myself.

Far from begrudging the ladies their opinions, I am tickled that I finally met them, those legendary old ladies I have heard so much about, the ones with internal thermometers that register the proximity to freezing of any child under the age of 1, the ones who can spot you coddling that child from a mile away, the ones who wonder why that boy is riding in a stroller, shouldn’t he be walking by now and did you know he’s got filthy fingernails? the ones who have been there, done that and just want to connect with someone the only way they know how: by offering unsolicited advice which is really just their way of saying hello, what you’re doing is hard, I know because I’ve done it and I’m only telling you this because I want to make things easier for you; this isn’t a criticism, just an editorial comment and what lovely boys I am sure they’re happy you’re their mother even if sometimes you have your doubts.

I have met my future self, in other words. And I think she had booze in her tea.

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