My kids like to play a game when we are in public. Unfortunately the game is not called, “Let’s see how well-behaved we can be so that Mommy is extremely proud of us.”
Instead, they like to pick on unsuspecting men within earshot. The game usually goes something like this:
Child #1 sees a man nearby and yells, “Daddy!” in his direction.
I casually look in the man’s direction to see if he has heard my child while simultaneously trying to encourage my kids to keep moving away from the man.
Child #2 is now on board and yells a bit louder, “DADDY!”
Child #3, not wanting to be left out, shouts at the top of his/her lungs “DADDY!”
Child #1 then usually says something like “Mommy, he’s not answering us.”
There is now no question as to if the man has heard them. He looks at us, gives a polite smile and tries to go back to his business. Please keep in mind, sometimes this is in a grocery store so even when I think we’ve lost him, one wrong turn down an aisle brings us back to the poor guy. Upon seeing the man again, they begin the name calling again, this time changing it up to make it more interesting.
“I love you Daddy!”
“Daddy, where are you going?”
“Daddy, are those bananas for us?”
I try not to think about what this poor man is thinking. Best-case scenario is that he has kids of his own, understands the embarrassing things they say in public and thinks nothing of my children and their claims of paternity. Worst-case scenario is that he thinks I’ve planned this little routine as a way to meet men in the grocery store. Upon considering this scenario, I make sure my wedding ring is extremely visible and say something like, ‘Silly kids, Daddy — my husband who I love very much — is at work.”
I’ve learned to try to minimize my reaction during this game. The more I panic, the funnier this game becomes to my kids. If I can remain calm, they usually give it a rest after an agonizing 3-5 minutes.
Because it happens so frequently, I try to avoid potentially awkward situations by steering clear of men, though I’ve yet to find a women and children only grocery store to completely eliminate the problem. I’m sure even if I did, they would come up with something else to embarrass me with.
At least the Daddy game has a level of absurdity that most men can recognize. It’s when the comments are genuine questions they want answers for that things get complicated.
“Mommy, is that person a boy or a girl?”
“Why does that man have a ponytail? Ponytails are for girls!”
“What are those bumps all over that girls face?”
“Why does that man have no hair? Why don’t you let me have no hair like him?”
“Mom look! She looks like Grandma!”
“How come that woman isn’t smiling? She didn’t say ‘hi’ to me.”
Thank goodness they are so cute, otherwise, I’m not sure how we’d ever survive in public.
What’s the craziest thing your kid has ever said in public?