The other day at the grocery store, a man offered me his child.
And I completely understood.
It was one of those moments when you size up what's been going on between a parent and child in .05 seconds and think, thank goodness I left mine at home.
I'd walked into the store without my children, for once. And like every time I'm without them, I get this silly, almost nostalgic attitude toward all other children. Children I never even notice since I'm usually busy trying to keep mine from knocking over the huge soda display or tossing six toys into the cart and covering them with the bread so I won't see them until we're in the checkout.
There she was, with the cutest pair of ponytails sticking straight up. She was maybe two years old, and was not sitting in her seat in the cart, but slightly above it, her father keeping her safe.
"She's so adorable," I said as I headed toward the broccoli.
He took one look at me, lifted her up, and pretended to hand her over. That's when I saw it. This child had just completed a full-blown melt down.
She had all the classic post melt down signs. Glistening eyes. Ruddy cheeks. Calm behavior.
And he had the classic survivor signs. Stiff back. Throbbing temple. Expressionless face.
I wanted to say, I have so been there, Mister. I feel your pain.
Instead, I just laughed as he cracked a slight, weary smile.
Yes, I've been to melt down land, to that moment when you wonder about not only your child but the entire human race. Is this any way to populate a planet? Fill it with crazed people who at any given moment will have a total cow in the grocery store and refuse to sit in the cart with their seatbelt fasten as is CLEARLY indicated on the illustrations?
Frankly my children modeled for the illustrations of what NOT to do on the grocery cart.
So I turned down the little girl with the ponytails that day. Cute or not, I know now what I'd be getting into. Plus I finally got mine to sit down!