Things About Which I Have Been Wrong

I get a kick out of the whole women think they are always right thing. As far as my life goes, I think I’ve been right about the big stuff, but I’ve been egregiously wrong about quite a few things along the way. A while back I decided to compile a list of things about which I was wrong.

The Enduring Popularity of the Internet, and subsequently Facebook

My first memory of the internet is from 1996 when I was 16 years old. One of my classmates mentioned that the movie version of Romeo and Juliet, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, had a website. I could not form in my mind the purpose of such a thing or what even such a thing was. I was fairly certain the internet was another fad. In my lifetime up to that point, I had witnessed records, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, laser discs (imagine a DVD the size of a record), CDs, mini CDs, boom boxes, the Walkman, the Discman, mini TVs, big screen TVs, rotary phones, cell phones the size of bricks, libraries with the Dewey Decimal System, need I go on? How could the internet possibly endure? What did it have to offer that would permanently secure its position in our ever-changing world? Apparently a lot. Yes, the internet proved to have a lot to offer, like millions of cat videos and an infinite platform for narcissism. Facebook took off when I was living in Belgium, so I cut myself some slack on that one. When I heard about it, I was sure it was just something for teenagers. Well, I wasn’t totally wrong there.

Ballerina/Stock Broker/Pediatrician/Rock Star

Why does anyone ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up? To laugh at them and throw it in their faces when they’re grown. I recall rotating the above four professions as my answer when I was a little kid. Clearly ballerina went out the window pretty much at birth. I like to eat. Enough said. I was a child of the 80s, the days of Gordon Gekko, even a 6 year old knew what a stock broker was. Now, here’s the thing. I probably could be a stock broker. Buy low, sell high. How hard could it be? As a mom of twins, I’m 95% there on the Pediatrician thing. The nurses do most of the work anyway, and with the internet, I got this! When I said I wanted to be a Rock Star, I didn’t equate that with being a talented singer, which I am not. I associated being a Rock Star with having a big personality, which I do have. I am kind of a big deal. Thanks to the internet and Facebook, we all enjoy a certain level of celebrity. So here again, I wasn’t totally wrong.

My Kids Will Never (fill in the blank)

Before you have kids, you imagine them as tiny, angelic beings. When you see kids behaving “badly,” you think it must be the result of bad parenting. Of course, you’re going to be an A+ parent, so your kid will never have a meltdown in a restaurant, smear guacamole on the wall that you’ll leave for the bus boy to clean, ardently pick her nose in public, remove her clothes and diaper and then pee on the living room floor when you step into the kitchen for like 2 seconds to start dinner, bear hug her sister from behind and wrestle her to the floor in order to steal a toy she previously ignored, grab a handful of her sister’s hair and pull with all her strength for no reason whatsoever, give dirty looks to elderly ladies at church who stop by the nursery to admire their cuteness, hold a slice of pizza up to her ear and pretend it’s a telephone, or attempt to wash her hands in the toilet. Nope, your kid isn’t going to do any of that stuff. As a mom of 23 month old twins, I’ve come to view parenting as a civilizing process, slowing coaxing these ids, as Freud would put it, towards behavior that meshes with our cultural norms. My two little wild women have embraced some aspects of our culture, like Mickey Mouse, but still reject others, like wearing clothing all of the time. If Walt Disney would’ve drawn Mickey with a shirt on that would’ve helped tremendously.

My Singing Ability

Growing up in church led me to believe that I was a good singer. When little kids sing in public, they are praised and told how well they did, which in turn makes them think they are good singers. Since I was never shy and always eager to perform, I sang in front of our church on a regular basis and imagined myself to be quite good, because of all of the accolades I received. It wasn’t until I was almost an adult that I realized, in fact, I am not gifted in singing or music at all. I can be an appreciator of music, but I should limit my participation to congregational hymns on Sunday morning. So when Sunday morning rolls around, I go all out. I’m sure Noel enjoys my enthusiastic attempts. Technically I’m an alto, but I sing any part that I strikes my fancy at that moment. I’ll belt out that high soprano note or drop down and sing the bass or just transpose it into whatever key my range can reach. I told Noel that I sing so loudly and with such great gusto on Sunday mornings because I want to be sure God noticed I was there. He better mark me present on the divine attendance roll.

Punky Brewster as Fashion Icon

Seriously, it’s unfair to criticize the fashion sense of anyone born in the 80s. We’re coming from a major style deficit. As a youngster, I idolized the TV character Punky Brewster, who wore garishly colored, mismatched clothing. It’s a really weird show now that I think back on it. Punky was an orphan who somehow came to reside with this grouchy old man. Anyway, I attempted to imitate Punky’s style, much to the chagrin of my adult self. Now my childhood photos are a source of much shame. I have to carefully select the least horrifying ones that I can show to Avery and Lily, lest they think their mother was raised by Cyndi Lauper and Boy George.

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Good Old Punky never steered a girl wrong.

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Punk in all her glory

Well, I’ve been wrong here and there, but I feel like I’ve had a pretty good track record. I married the right man; I refrained from naming my kids anything like Ikea and Hashtag; I stopped perming my hair after 1991; I did not buy that $500 tshirt at the Dolce and Gabbana boutique in Milan. Maybe women aren’t always right, and maybe some women are more right than others, but I know for sure that the things about which I’ve been wrong make for fun things for me to laugh about now.

The Sweetness

I’ve had pain in my life. Some of it inflicted on me by others, some of it I inflicted upon myself, and some of it was just because we live in a broken world. I imagine we all get a hefty dose of it at some point during our time on this earth. Sometimes it wells up inside, looming large in my heart, remembering things that cannot be changed, pain, loss, regret. I still have a ways to go in this life, and I know there will be bumps, dips, mountain highs, and dark valley passes. When I was a child I thought what made life good was the grand gestures, Christmas morning, fireworks in the sky. Now that I am a woman, I know that what makes life good is the small things, foreheads touching, a palm on my cheek, a tiny voice calling “mama” in the night. That is the sweetness. My 87 year old grandma recounts a memory from decades ago of her baby twins, about the same age as mine, playing in the yard, one tickling the other with a pine needle. That is the sweetness. Watching Lily wrap her arms around Avery and lay her head on her 22 month old sister’s shoulder, that is the sweetness. It tips the scales in our favor, against the pain. It is the bright light that overcomes the darkness. Every night when I lay down, I pray to God in the same way. I thank Him for this day that He’s given me. I thank Him for Jesus. I ask Him for forgiveness, and I thank Him for the sweetness.

Redwood Trees

We recently had a wonderful visit from Noel’s mom and aunt, Grandma and Nena, who live in Corpus Christi. They came for five days and got in lots of playing time with Avery and Lily. I think they also enjoyed their time together as sisters. They shared our guestroom and each morning would say how late they stayed up talking and laughing. It gives me great encouragement to see them enjoying each other’s company so much, because they have dramatically different personalities. The older Avery and Lily get, the more I see how different they are. Sometimes I worry that they won’t get along when they’re big, but seeing Grandma and Nena having fun together was very reassuring.

As our girls’ personalities have emerged, I’ve noticed a very interesting phenomenon. People automatically identify themselves with one of the twins, not in physical similarity, but in personality. Even more perplexing is that most people identify with Lily. I’ve been taking note of this for quite a while and find it fascinating. Lily is boisterous, exclaims “Hot Dog,” says “Hi” to everyone she sees, is full of energy, loves music and dancing, is unabashedly in love with Mickey Mouse and asks for him as soon as she wakes up, gives the biggest hugs, but is shy at first even with people she’s met before. She can outrun Avery by a mile but is scared of her when Avery tries to take away her toy! Avery can say just about everything and knows how to say exactly what will get a smile; she would love to sit on someone’s lap all day and have their undivided attention; she likes to figure out new things privately so as not to mess up in front of others; she coyly offers her cheek to be kissed; she loves to open her closet and admire her clothes and will say “Oh Wow!” It’s quite funny to me that so many people look at Lily and see themselves. When I look at my girls, I see myself in both of them. I guess that’s because I’m their mom!

What I really want to write about today is something Noel’s mom said to me when she was here a week ago. She is a quiet woman who does not outwardly show her emotions. She’s deeply caring and would do anything for anyone, but she’s not one for words. We were having coffee, and out of the blue she said one of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard. She had watched a T.V. show about redwood trees. According to the program, redwood trees are the tallest trees on Earth, although their roots are very shallow and even some have roots on top of the ground. Nonetheless, these trees never fall because of their proximity to other redwood trees.  The trees are so close together that the roots of all the trees are interlaced and hold each other up. Then she looked at me and said, “That’s how people should be.” Boom! You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. This woman says a tenth of the words I say in a day, but when she decides to speak, watch out! I’ve been rolling that around in my head for a week. How simple and beautiful. It makes me think of God the Creator. He designed every aspect of nature, and He can use it to teach us how to love one another and how to stand by one another. I’m glad my mother-in-law got to come spend time with her grandbabies, but mainly I’m glad that I got that piece of wisdom.

Wonderwild

Wonderwild could be described as indoor playground. There’s a trampoline, a climbing structure, a ball pit, a massive inflated slide with an even more massive inflated crocodile fixed atop of it, and a random smattering of toys which no less than a thousand kids have chewed. When I think of Wonderwild, I think of that creepy part in Pinocchio when all the boys get taken to an island where they can do whatever they want but then get turned into donkeys. While no physical metamorphosis occurs, there is definitely a regression to an animalistic state when a child enters Wonderwild.

We’ve been to Wonderwild twice. The first time, it was almost empty and, therefore, a lovely experience. The second time, it was at maximum capacity and, therefore, resembled the climactic scene from Lord of the Flies. Seriously, Wonderwild, or Wo Wo as Avery calls it, would make excellent fodder for some sociological research. What makes Wonderwild so wild is that there is no objective 3rd party supervising the scene. I suppose it’s like the honor system. The parents are supposed to be watching their kids and upholding the rules; however, I only saw one rule, which was kids must wear socks. So I guess it’s really left up to parental discretion as to what is acceptable behavior. The moms are as fun to watch as the kids. There are the moms, like me, who show up in yoga pants, tshirts, and sneakers and chase their kids around, jump on the trampoline, and slide down the slides. Then there are the posh moms. I love the posh moms, who are perfectly coiffed, sipping Starbucks, toting their Louis Vuittons while completing ignoring their kids, but that’s okay because they brought their nannies. They name their kids names like Whitaker or Imogen. Avery and Lily have identified these moms as well. They rifle through their designer hand bags, ask the moms to pick them up, and then steal their kids’ snacks. Seriously, I would be one of those posh moms, but I like sliding down the crocodile slide too dang much.

Two of my mom friends brought their kiddos along with us on our second trip to Wonderwild, which was a wonderful asset since Avery and Lily head in opposite directions as fast as they can. With two other moms keeping an eye out for my girls, we managed to keep them from serious bodily harm. I dressed them in outrageously bright colors with huge hair bows so that I’d be able to spot them from a distance. As I hoisted myself through the climbing structure behind Lily, which isn’t tall enough for an adult to stand upright in so I had to lumber around crouched over like an some sort of ogre, Avery was surely on the opposite side of the building trying to eat the plastic food, and in five minutes I was climbing through the belly of the crocodile slide trying to make sure a posse of five year olds didn’t assault Avery while Lily was submerged in the ball pit. Of course, Avery and I tumble down the ridiculously massive crocodile slide to land right at the feet of the three poshest of posh moms, whom I told to pick my kid up off the ground for me so that I could recover from my trip through a crocodile’s digestive system. They were not sweating as much as I was, but they hadn’t enjoyed a near death experience with your 20 month old, who laughed uncontrollably through the entire ordeal. I collected my brood and tried to encourage them to just stay near the play kitchen area, since that was surely a safe spot, when some sugar-fueled four year old boy pushed Avery by her face. Seriously, the kid ran over, planted his palm on her cheek, and shoved her. I was proud of her, because she didn’t cry or even fall over. She staggered back a few steps, and then headed straight back to the toy that the boy tried to steal from her. At that point, the boy caught sight of me, this disheveled, sweaty, now angry mom, and he high-tailed it away from us. After a kid started pelting me in the back as hard as he could with balls from the ball pit, I decided it was time for me and mine to make our exit. It’s those moments when I almost forget that I’m a mom and forget the rules of our modern society. I wanted to holler at that kid something like, “Hey you jerk! What’s wrong with you?” Thankfully I remembered in time that one mustn’t say such things.

Just as a sidenote, there’s something to be said for having kids in your twenties rather than your thirties. The entire Wonderwild experience may be less traumatic on a twenty-something’s body than a thirty-something’s body.

As utterly insane as it was, I will still take Averyand Lily back to Wonderwild. They love it, and it’s good for them. It’s good to run, and jump, and climb, and slide, and learn how to deal with other kids who may not be as mannerly as they are. I also enjoy the thrill of plummeting at breakneck speed through the body of a crocodile.

A wise woman once said . . .

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One of the joys of parenthood is getting to liberally dispense cockamamie advice and half-baked bits of wisdom to anyone who has yet to birth a child. See my post https://averyandlily.com/2013/04/29/986-rules-for-life/  There are lots of great things about being a parent, but getting to spout off like I’m an expert all the time is definitely one of my favorites. The fact that I have twins just adds to my street cred. I even enjoy doling out advice to people who already have kids, maybe even older kids than mine. Why not? I’m a generous person. Why should my wisdom be reserved for the childless? Here are some more nuggets of insight for you to add to your treasure trove of knowledge. You can thank me later.

You’re going to touch poop with your bare hand.

It’s going to happen. Hopefully not often and probably not on purpose, but at some point your bare hand will come in contact with your baby’s poop. Just accept that it’s going to happen to you and has happened to millions of others. One of the unexpected facts of parenthood is that you become quite the scatologist. You learn all kinds of things about your baby by his poop. You’re changing the diaper and are like, “Oh, looks like Junior needs to drink more fluids.” It’s almost like your life becomes all about poop. Has the baby pooped yet today? I hope the baby doesn’t poop while we’re in the car. The baby pooped but is asleep, so do I chance waking him or let him sleep in poop? See, this is why “old” people talk about poop all the time. On a daily basis, for years on end, they had to encounter another human’s excrement. It really affects a person.

You’re going to miss the mark.

You may have some set of standards or ideals to which you aspire. That’s a good thing, but you’re not going to get there every day. Some days you might. Most days you’ll get close. Some days you’ll go up for that slam dunk and not only miss the basket but land face first on the gym floor. It’s okay. You probably didn’t totally ruin your child in one day. With twin 20 month olds, I’ve set my goals in the attainable range. For example, I try to provide at least 2 food groups at each meal. I feel like that is a reasonable target for a toddler’s diet. However, there are some days that I just up-end the cereal box over their high chair trays. I tell myself that at least it’s Kashi and not Cocoa Pebbles. A.B. and Duey, that’s what they call themselves, think it’s a great treat and shovel it down as fast as I can dump it out. If you collapse into bed every night, replaying your blooper reel in your mind, beating yourself up over your dozens of perceived failures, you’re a good parent.

You’re going to get embarrassed.

Eventually your little angel is going to publicly embarrass you. Someday you’ll have a teenager, and it’s your turn to be embarrassing. A.B. jabbers nonstop. She talks all day long. Only about 20% is actual words though. Yet, occasionally she hits the verbal jackpot and constructs a four letter word, always in front of other people. She’s really into wearing socks, but at first she couldn’t say the words correctly, and it would come out like a word that begins with sh. I got many a shocked look. Both of the girls had really bad acid reflux as infants. With A.B, it just went away when she was around 6 months old. Duey projectile-vomited a dozen times a day until she was a year old. Now she does this almost-vomit thing where she looks like she’s gagging but then swallows back down the contents of her stomach. It’s rather horrendous, and she does it a few times a day. People who are seeing it for the first time are terrified. Then I’m like, “Yeah, my kid swallows her vomit. No big deal.”

You’re going to suck it up.

You love that little toot so much you’d take a bullet for her. Hopefully nothing that dramatic will be required, but my situation is pretty darn close. I hate bananas. HATE them. I know that the entire rest of the world thinks they’re the bee’s knees, but I do not. If I were trapped on a deserted island with nothing to eat but bananas, I would get very close to death before I took a bite. Seriously, I would be the worst person to be trapped with on a deserted island. I have told Noel multiple times that if some sort of apocalyptic event occurs, it will be best for everyone if I just die right off the bat. He, A.B., and Duey can go join the Resistance and fight for liberty and justice; however, I just need to get disintegrated in the nuclear blast or whatever. I was stranded on the side of the road in Mexico one time, and within thirty minutes I had eaten all of my granola bars and drank all of my water. I’m just saying. Anyway, our girls love bananas, so I suck it up and serve them bananas several times a week. I cut them up with a fork and knife, so I don’t have to touch them.

You’re going to become someone you previously hated.

Remember when you were a cool single person, dining at a hip restaurant with your cool single friends, and you saw the people with kids at another table, eating as fast as they can while their kids scream and create a lake of food around their high chairs? Yeah, you’re going to become that person, temporarily. Sometimes, your kids will behave perfectly, but more often they’ll step out the door of your house and transform into newly-freed convicts who are making the most of their time on the outside. You’ll apologetically look at total strangers, shrug your shoulders, and say, “They’re usually not like this.” My favorite line is, “They’re just tired.” When a hair-pulling brawl breaks out between my kids, I separate them, and say to any other adults present, “They’re just tired.” Once in a blue moon when Noel and I load up the crew and go to a restaurant, we bring our arsenal of baby gear and hope to entertain A.B. and Duey long enough to cram a one course meal in. That’s when my whole, two food groups at every meal thing goes flying out the window. I let them eat anything that keeps them quiet. Want to eat chili con queso with your bare hands? Go for it. Want to eat nothing but french fries? Enjoy! You’re only 20 months old once! I draw the line at chicken nuggets. I just will not allow my kids to eat that mystery meat conglomeration.

So I truly hope these gems of wisdom guide you on your path of parenthood.

Operation: Grandma’s House

Avery and Lily are 19 months old! They look more like kids than babies. I was telling a friend yesterday that time has gone by so fast, yet I cannot seem to remember ever not having my girls. It’s probably a sign that I’m getting old! Lily rides her little bike at break neck speed, loudly declaring “Beep Beep!” Avery talks to me all day. Her favorite phrases are: “Stop it,Duey (that’s what she calls Lily),  Oh Wow!, Oh My!, and Hot Dog!

My girls are going to spend 9 days with their grandma at her beautiful home in Texarkana, which requires a 6 hour drive each way. Preparing them for this has been like preparing for a military operation. I started writing a packing list last week and decided to share it. All number values are totals, not per child. One must think of these things when packing for twins.

8 Onesies

4 Pairs of Shorts

4 Dresses/Outfits

4 Pairs of Socks

4 Pairs of Shoes

2 Bonnets (Gotta protect those complexions)

4 Loveys (2 in car, 2 in suitcase)

2 Pacifier Teddy Bears (actually one is a bear and the other a kitty)

2 Back up Pacifiers

6 books (take in car)

2 Leap Frog Violet the Dogs (take in car)

2 Snack Cups (take in car)

4 Sippy Cups (2 in car, 2 in suitcase)

2 Sippy Cup Straps (take in car)

4 Bibs

2 Cloth Bibs

20 or more Diapers (in the car)

80 Diapers (packed)

20 or more Night Diapers

1 Bag of Baby Wipes

1 or more Leap Frog DVD

2 Bikes

1 Pack n Play

1 Box Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal in Warm Cinnamon flavor (Avery is a little picky about her Kashi)

1 Box Raisins

1 Baby Shampoo

1 Baby Conditioner (Lily’s curls require it)

2 Towels

2 Toothbrushes

1 Baby Toothpaste

1 Baby Lotion

4 Hair Clips

1 Wide Tooth Comb (For Lily’s curls)

1 Fine Tooth Comb (For Avery’s straight tresses)

1 Bottle of Detangling Hair Spray

1 First Aid Kit (Actually contains every OTC baby medicine on the market)

1 Emergency Info Folder (This may seem paranoid since they’re just going to Grandma’s house, but I made an info sheet for each child with a large photo of her, in case the unthinkable were to happen)

So there’s my list! I probably will forget some crucial item, but that’s why the Good Lord  invented Target.

Welcome to the Jungle

We attended the first birthday party of Avery and Lily’s BFF, Penelope. Penelope is basically a rock star. Not only does she have the coolest toys, she started walking at 8 months old. Actually, I think she walked out of the womb. Avery and Lily really dig hanging out with her, especially since she always has good food. At her party yesterday, I was enjoying some of the brisket her dad Nate had made. As soon as Lily and Avery caught a whiff, they started mauling me like wild hyenas. I got them a plate of the delicious and nutritious kids’ food that Penelope’s mom Stacie had prepared. When I put the plate in between them on the floor, Lily immediately yanked it out of Avery’s reach, which resulted in a major protest from Avery. Once I settled the location of the plate again, Lily began shoving as much food in her mouth at one time as she could. Of course, anything she didn’t like she promptly spat out on the floor. Avery ate a few bites and returned to playing with Penelope’s awesome drum and drumsticks. Lily took this opening to claim ownership of the plate, by laying in the middle of the floor and basically dumping its contents all over herself. I kept telling the other adults at the party that the girls had just eaten lunch before we left, but I think they all imagined I had starved Lily all day. When I decided to have a cupcake, I ate it in the kitchen so my kids wouldn’t attack me for it. An adorable Shih tzu named Bentley also attended the party. We’ve been trying to acclimate the girls to dogs, but we haven’t been successful yet. Bentley trotted up to Avery while she was jamming with Penelope’s drum. She was beating a nice rhythm with the drumsticks when she saw that Bentley was too close for comfort. She swooped the drumsticks into an X formation in front of her face, giving Bentley a clear sign to back off. Thankfully Bentley moved on before Avery decided to attack. Avery looked up at me with wide eyes, and I praised her for using good defense. After brandishing drumsticks at a small dog and creating a lake of food on Stacie and Nate’s beautiful rug, I decided we best head on home. I’m kind of wondering if we’ll keep getting invited to parties. My little wild ones aren’t quite civilized yet!

The Day after Mother’s Day

Driving home from Target, jamming to Casting Crown’s “Praise You in this Storm,” my girls are giggling and chattering in the back seat.

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

As I sing aloud for my laughing daughters, this song always makes me think of my pregnancy. When I let myself absorb the words, it’s like an icy hand gripping my heart. I think, “Why God? Why? Why did you give me these daughters?” Becoming a mother makes me feel so much more poignantly the precarious nature of life. And the fact of the matter is, I played fast and loose with my life, the lives of unborn children, and the life of my husband. When I look at Avery and Lily, I feel so painfully just how risky my pregnancy was. Then my mind goes down the check list: I’m healthy; Avery is healthy; Lily is healthy. How could it be?  It just doesn’t add up. There’s no logical explanation. Why did God work this miracle in my life?

I pull into my driveway and begin the process of getting us all in the house. I open the car door on Lily’s side to see her beaming, reaching for me, and wearing nothing but her diaper. I laugh, because I forgot that I had stripped her down in the Target parking lot. She had saturated her clothes with milk from her sippy cup. I hold Lily close and nuzzle her sweet cheeks and neck with my face. Lily loves getting kisses, and I love giving them. These are the moments that make life, the small snatches of unrestrained love.

I do not know why I received the blessing of these children. I do not know why I survived a  dangerous pregnancy with only the smallest of scars. I do not know why I have healthy twins when, in the best of situations, multiples are high risk. Thankfully, I do not have to know the answers to those questions. Thankfully, I serve a God who is with me in every storm. Thankfully, the storm has passed through my life, and for now the winds are calm.

A Strange Phenomenon

I’ve written in the past about people stopping me in public to ask me questions about my twins. I can understand the curiosity, and frankly they’re just so gorgeous I’m surprised that anyone ever walks past us without stopping. What baffles me is that I am frequently approached by strangers when I’m by myself. I NEVER initiate conversations with strangers in public. It’s just not in my personality. I don’t stop people in the grocery store and start chatting about cereal or whatever. I just don’t view a trip to Kroger’s as a social event. Yet, I hardly make it through a shopping trip without a stranger striking up a conversation with me. Am I that approachable? I don’t feel like I’m putting out that vibe, but maybe I am and just don’t know it! Here are a few of the more memorable encounters I’ve had while grocery shopping.

At a local farmer’s market, on a weekday, at about 2 pm, a woman stopped me with a pressing question. She looked to be in her 40’s, was wearing running shorts and a t-shirt, and seemed a bit harried. She asked me, “What do you recommend for lunch.” Seriously, this woman walks up to me and starts out with that question. I replied, “What do you mean? Are you hosting a lunch for a group of people?” She answered, “No. I just need ideas for lunch. Like, what did you have for lunch today?” At this point, I was wondering why I had entered into this conversation. Couldn’t I have just walked away? But no, I inform her that I had salad and a sandwich. She seemed to like that answer, but then asked, “What’s that Mexican parsley called?” I said, “Do you mean cilantro?” She said,  “Yes!” Then she hurried off, having gathered whatever information she seemed to want from me. I still wonder why I looked like the kind of person who could guide her in her quest for the right lunch.

Recently, on a Saturday morning at my local Kroger’s, I was stopped by an elderly gentleman wearing boots, starched jeans, and a western style shirt complete with pearl snaps. He trapped me with this opener, “Could you help me? You’re probably smarter at these things than me. Do you now where to find the butter beans?” I did not know where the butter beans were nor what a butter bean was, but I didn’t want to betray my ignorance since he had led with the statement that I was probably smarter than him about beans. So, I walked with him to the dried beans section and hoped that the butter beans would jump out at me. It’s at this point that I realized that he was not alone. While we were talking, a “hefty” man in a motorized shopping cart had been reversing towards us from the end of the aisle. He stopped next to us and joined in the search for the butter beans. Finally the man in the western shirt pointed to the lima beans, which apparently are also called butter beans, but he was not satisfied. “Where are the big ones?” Well, I just couldn’t help him anymore. I informed him that they just had the one size, then the two men began debating about which one of them would be doing the cooking. I used the distraction to slip away, all the while asking myself why I was so lucky to be chosen for their bean mission.

Just this very afternoon, again at Kroger’s, a woman tried to pick out the Mother’s Day card for my mom for me. Like all women, I must read every card on the shelf before making my selection. This woman was likewise engaged, when she said to me, “They just have so many beautiful cards.” I replied, “Hmm mmm,” although I was thinking that Kroger’s has a disappointing greeting card section. She then  picked up a card, handed it to me,  and says, “Like this one! It’s so beautiful, and it even matches your pants!” I took the card from her, which was a dark fuchsia like my pants, and felt strangely obligated to choose it even though I hadn’t finished looking! Well, then the woman wouldn’t stop lamenting over the fact that she couldn’t find the correct envelope for the card she had picked. Finally I just put the card down, thinking, “I don’t have to pick that card, just because some stranger handed it to me.” I grabbed the card I’d had my eye on and quickly left the section, hoping to finish my shopping in peace!

I really don’t know what it is about me that makes strangers want to start conversations. Maybe I seem friendly, or maybe I look like someone who knows a lot about food.

I don’t know who these children are. My daughters are still babies, and those girls look like big kids.