At the bakery

Fridays, we both take the kids to school, rather than to the bus stop, since the school kicks off the day with a community-wide meeting. Today, after leaving school, we stopped by The Cheese Board, our venerated neighborhood collective cheese shop/bakery.

The man in line in front of us turned around at the sound of my voice, and smiled.

“You’re– you’re so-and-so’s mom.” And then he saw my partner and adds “S.”

“Yes! And you’re Keiko’s dad.” D.

I might have split a hair or two about how in truth I’m more so-and-so’s parent, really; she calls me Baba; we’re naming the liminal space between the falsely dichotemized poles of mother and father, but still, I totally get the shorthand thing – who has time for Althusser before your morning coffee, you know?

Neither of us had had a sip of coffee yet, so that part stayed in my brain.

We eased forward in line, chit-chatting about the upcoming sleepover our daughter will be having with no fewer than seven (count ’em! 7!) eight- and nine-year-old girls. Girl-a-palooza. Girl-ma-geddon. Night of the Living Girls. The giddy nervousness I  feel in anticipation, even a week out, is in truth a leaky subterranean dread of all the many, many Things That Could Go Wrong.

The-Treasure-of-the-Sierra-Madre-2The one and only time we had a sleepover over here, it was like Treasure of Sierra Madre. Only it was my then-seven-year-old girl, and not a grizzled prospector, who was staying up into the wee hours of the morning, daring the others to fall asleep first. She won.

Keiko’s dad left with his sourdough something-or-other, and Mrs Dad and I repaired to the cream counter to doctor up our coffees.

“What was his name?” Mrs Dad asked me.

“I think his name is Keiko’s Dad.” Pause. “Which I’m sure is fine with him. What with our daughter being So-and-so, and us being So-and-so’s Mom. S.

At which point the woman to our left, who had been doctoring her coffee, chuckled and looked up and said, “Ha! My name’s Caleb and Eli’s Mom.”

To which I replied, “And after years of sleep deprivation, we don’t even care! Saves us all the time of remembering two or three extra names. One’s easier.”

“Tell me about it,” she said, reaching for a plastic top for her coffee.

“O how the mighty have fallen.”

“You know what I wish I had? For when it all gets too much?” She had our attention. “A velcro wall. Put a little velcro vest on the kids, throw them up high enough that they can’t get down on their own.”

I pictured a bunch of ornery kids up there, arms and legs waving like so many outsize sea anemones.

“Just sit with that image a moment,” she called out over her shoulder, and she strode into the day.


12 thoughts on “At the bakery”

  1. We’re the odd ones at school, the ones who speak English, so everyone remembers who we are. Of course, I still get called ‘E&M’s mama’ since I wasn’t the one who met all the other parents at the beginning of the year, but their Pappa gets called by his name at least by the other parents. Well, an approximation of his name since it’s pretty much unpronounceable.

    I’m the horrible one who doesn’t even remember which kid goes with which adult. I’m the one saying ‘I think I’ve seen you somewhere before…’

    Also, the image of the kids stuck to a velcro wall is going to stay with me today. We are going to be redoing the guest room soon.

  2. My daughter attended a previous school near my workplace. Many days when I’m walking home from work across the playground/park, head down and in my own little world, I will hear one of her old friends call out “Hi, R’s Mom!” All run together, one word, because to her, it is my name.

    And that image just made me laugh out loud. Mine’s too big to be thrown anywhere anymore, but 3-4 years ago, that would have been just the ticket. 🙂

    • My name was “Dad-mom” or maybe it was “Mom-dad,” always more or less yelled out, enthusiastically, by a Kindergartener-aged kid, a schoolmate of my son’s, who had asked me if I was a mom or a dad (of course). I said “A bit of both” (of course). And thus was my new name born.

  3. Just had to let you know that at least in NZ dovering the kids in velcro (or yourself) and hanging on the wal is actually an option. It’s called the fly on the wall. Not sure how common it is there, we Kiwi’s do tend to have some pretty strange forms of entertainment. Link below is just one of the companies that hire them out for events. One of the pictures actually has a kid stuck to the wall though. I thought it might help your creative visualisations. Not sure it would work as a deterant though, kids love it.

  4. On the days when our own so-and-so isn’t playing the part of unsleeping grizzled prospector, or flailing sea anemone, “so-and-so’s parent” is actually quite a badge of honor. (Though personally, we prefer Baba too.)

    Thanks for the thought of the day and for the laugh!

  5. In my life, parental introductions have officially become a Catch-22:
    I believe taking the time to introduce yourself to someone is becoming a lost art, so I get the impression I do it more than most people. Problem is, my memory is also going, so I almost NEVER remember the name of the person who has actually taken the time to reciprocate an introduction. I end up defaulting to “So-and-so’s parent” for several weeks until I can find some sort of weird word association that sticks.

    Great post….(I had to Google Althuser)

    • Names don’t just escape me, they turn tail and run for the hills, as soon as someone’s graciously told it to me. Brother, I relate.

      Also, thank you for Googling Althusser. It may be the only non-class-related Googling that man’s gotten in weeks. 🙂

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