Out of Place

I have this issue with being out of place in my own life. I don't fit in, somehow. This is most apparent when I am at playgrounds with Zelma, who is 14 months old.

I just don't know what the etiquette is at playgrounds. We go to a playground almost every day. She loves playgrounds. Generally, at a playground, where I go is dictated by where Zelma wants to go- especially since she still has to hold my hand to walk. Zelma likes to walk up close to people and stare at them (or trees, or dogs, but that's not really the problem). I guess the problem is, what do you say to people?

I thought I had it figured out a few weeks ago, when I resolved to just compliment other people's children. Who doesn't mind a compliment to their offspring? Everyone loves their own children (well, at least everyone who takes their kids to playgrounds, I think). The problem then became (and maybe, if you know me a little too well, you'll see where this is going) I can't always think of a compliment for every kid. In fact, I mostly think of insults, or semi-insulting ruminations, like,

"So, you were once this cute, too, eh? It's amazing how time distorts the features, isn't it?"


"What a good little walker your child is! And at such an early age! You know, I've heard that the children who walk before a year have trouble learning to read, later."

And so on. I don't think kind, normal thoughts. I'm not a bad person, really. I just don't fit in. But, I'm not Joseph Biden or anything. I mean, I don't actually say these things out loud (usually). Most often, I just stand there with a slight smile on my face, looking like an idiot, thinking, "compliment, compliment, think of a compliment compliment!" I mean, all the kids are cute, but somehow, "cute kid" just doesn't seem sufficient.

My favorite adults at the playground come in two varieties. My first favorites are the constant talkers. You know her whole life story, as well as that of her child or children, within the time it takes to push your kid on the swing for five minutes. I just love people who talk a lot. I don't have to say anything! It's great.

My second favorite people are the ones who misbehave. Like the two women today who climbed on top of a play structure and drank giant coffees while their one-year-old ran around (future poor reader, I'm sure) and hit toddlers on the head. Another mother, of twins, eyed everyone suspiciously. When the one year old girl came up and bopped Zelma in the head, I figured it was time for Zelma to learn a little reality in the world, anyway. When she ran up and tried to hit her again, I readied myself for a little defense, but she fell just before she got to Zelma. Zelma looked at her on the ground and tilted her head slightly, while the young mother on top of the play structure yelled at her daughter, "Good! You deserved that!" The mother of twins laughed.

People like this make a smiling idiot like me look great.


  1. As long as you're not the kind of Creepy Mommy who speaks for her child, we're good. As in....Zelma stands there looking cute and you say, "Hi! My name is Zelma. Would you like to ride the swings with me? I love to swing!" is a semi-baby talk, semi-sing songy voice.

    I occasionally run into women like that in the market and it really freaks me out.

    I wouldn't consider your thoughts as mean. More like...prophecy, right?

  2. I personify Zelma for Zelmarific, but I think that's different, somehow.

    But, yeah, there are moms who are quite freaky. I really don't know what to make of them. Over-zealous types, I guess. I'm glad you don't think I'm mean!

  3. Everybody has uncomplimentary or dark thoughts about others. If they deny it, they're just lying. People who are always nice out loud tend to have beliefs like 'I must be nice to everyone all the time or people will hate me', which is untrue, and exhausting. I like people better when they let me know I'm not the only one having snarky thoughts.

    Usually when kids stare at me, their parents say 'Are you looking at the lay-dee?'

    Or they'll be staring because I am eating chocolate. So it's 'Is the lay-dee eating chocolate? No, you can't have chocolate yet, it's 8 am.'

    My response is always just relief that they don't think I'm weird for smiling at their kids.

  4. I would be thankful that no one wanted to take my chocolate!
    I can't stand new people, myself. I like certain people, my favorites being loudly opinionated New Yorkers. But, in general, I think most people are sheep. That's why I have a chosen few great friends and not very many acquaintances.

  5. I have nothing to add but I didn't want to be left out of this string of posts.

  6. Personally, I hate small talk, specifically with people I don't know or care to know. "Boy, it's cold out today, isn't it?" Living in the South, it's totally expected. Last night, a bus driver wouldn't answer my question until she said, "Hello, how are you?" and I answered, "I'm well, thanks for asking." Never mind I'd just run four blocks in 40 degree weather and have asthma. Whatevs...polite small talk is more important.

    I have always been more of an animal person, myself. If I'm out walking or at the bus stop, it's not uncommon for me to talk to a dog or give them a pat on the head and completely ignore the owner. Kinda the same thing, I suppose.

    Zelmarific is totally different. And Gina is right. Most people are sheep.