Friday, October 14, 2011

Flying in the No Child Zone

There are certain public places in which the boisterous cheer of young children is welcomed - and then the many other places where the side-eye look of "Can't you just make your kid shut up already?" dread is frequently deployed. You know the look - the one where if the person should happen to accidentally make eye contact with you or - horrors! - your child, they might come down with a case of children too. Those things are contagious, you know.

Airplanes are the obvious example here, but I've been surprised to stumble across a few other "no child" zones in our adventures around town. Today's car dealer visit to get the Trophy Wife Wagon serviced was our latest such travail. Though the employees themselves went out of their way to accommodate me & Master P, my fellow patrons waiting in the recently renovated, hoity-toity waiting area were giving us the NCZ no eye contact like nobody's business. I was already stressed, knowing I had a long 2 hours at least of containing the toddler ahead of me, and the tension radiating off the others as they saw us just intensified it.

I was perplexed - though our surroundings were luxe, we'd hardly burst in on someone's private spa appointment or other understandably NCZ area, and Master P was on his best toddler behavior (read: wiggly but not screechy) - but we soldiered on nevertheless. We tried to make ourselves at home in the self-designated kids' corner, but . . . but . . .

. . . while one of us would have adored waiting while fiddling with a new Macbook Pro, the other, though clearly Gifted, Talented, and bound for PrincetoDartmOxford, had plans that didn't involve $2000 computers. Actually, they did, but probably not the ones the kind dealership had in mind.

I managed to redirect Master P's attention from the expensive technology, only to have him fix upon the eye-contact-avoiding fellow patrons and decide to socialize - and by "socialize" I mean "toddle up to someone and stare at them until they look back, then flash them a grin until they reciprocate." I tried to rein him in, but Mr. Personality persisted in working the room until I swear I saw the chilly mood shift a bit. There was eye contact, there were reciprocal smiles; even if those just wishing we would go away already had to force them, I could see them relax a tad. Once he zeroed in on the grandparents, we'd turned the room.

Let me clarify - I am not one of Those Parents who thinks that children should be welcome everywhere, nor do I believe that it's mandatory for all to find my child delightful. OK, that last bit is a bald-faced lie, but the first part is true - I get it. Certain No Child Zones exist for good reason, and I do my best to schedule around that or keep Master P on his best behavior possible (emphasis: possible) when I can't. Besides, we parents want time to ourselves and the ability to run errands without, say, peeling our tots off the floor model sports car too.

Today, however, watching him work that room we couldn't avoid, I couldn't help but be a bit proud - and inspired for whenever I next have to work a room myself. Surely there are worse social tactics to try than walking up to someone and smiling . . .

Granted this was taken in our Child Zone yard & not at the dealership, but you get the grin-ny idea here.

. . . though I may leave the staring to the toddler set. That seems more likely to land me stalking charges than friends, but it's otherwise a solid small talk scheme.

I end with thanks to the dealer for treating us so well, teddy bear & all, and the eventually kind patrons for - eventually - making eye contact. We're all just trying our best, aren't we? If you'll not treat us like we have the plague, we'll do our best not to strew Goldfish dust over your mid-sized SUV. Pinky swear.


Jessica said...

I am six months late on an oil change just because I'm terrified of this very scenario! Needlessly terrified, I'm sure, but still.... I like to think I have a pretty well-behaved baby, and she's really never turned into a public terror (yet), but that side-eye stare gets me all worked up anyways.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I had to sit in the dealership for two hours with BG once. Kill. Me. Now. I can't tell you how many people came into the waiting room and then turned around when they saw her. And she was just eating her snack! Finally that little laugh and waddle won the people over (how could it now?!). I hated how uncomfortable it was though. Although, I used to be one of those people who would leave. Yep.

Samma said...

Where are the toys? My father is a car dealer, and all old toys of our own and any employees' children were immediately sent to the "lounges" of each of the dealerships. Hmmmm, I assume they still are. . . I will check on that. Good job on the working it, Master P!

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