Yesterday was a gorgeous, unusually hot day for Maine in October. Those of you who live here know we would usually be in sweaters on Columbus Day Weekend, going to a pumpkin patch. Some still went to pumpkin patches, but with temperatures in the 80s there was nary a sweater to be seen.
Maine is also known for its country fairs in autumn. Agriculture, rides, games, greasy food, and events like horse pulling and cake contests bring all walks of life from every crevice of the state. The people-watching itself is almost worth the price of admission.
So, to best enjoy our gorgeous October day, my family of 3.24 joined another family of 3.74 at the Fryeburg Fair in none other than Fryeburg, Maine. For those of you without a head for numbers, I’m referring to the fact that I’m finishing my 1st trimester of pregnancy and my friend Sarah is finishing her 2nd trimester. Two preggos, two daddies, and two blond, curly 1 year old boys. And a double BOB stroller to push our stuff, rarely our boys.
We had a lovely day. It was the last day of the fair, not to mention the weather again, so you can imagine that we were a little on the claustrophobic side as far as people packed into a space. We waited paitently to go into a petting zoo where I now know Liam is terrified of goats and many other real-life critters. Perhaps we should have gotten a dog to acclimate him to four-legged friends. Regardless, his reaction to a baby goat about the size of a housecat was to squeal and scale Husband like a gym rope. If left on the ground at eye-level he had a certified panic attack. Even when we went to areas where the animals were safely behind pens and cages he preferred to view them from the safety of parental arms. I was very proud of him for finally petting a sheep. Of course, it was a huge, old thing sleeping and had its massive cloud of wool hanging a foot out of the cage. Liam bravely stepped up to the wool laying beyond the wire and gave it a few pats with his hand, looking quite pleased with his daring act. Jacob (who has a dog at home, which is one example toward my hypothesis on normalizing babies and animals through house pets), even encouraged Liam to hold onto the cage and shake their bodies back and forth while releasing a guttural battle cry, normally a favorite activity of Liam’s. He did follow his friend in this bit of bravery and he was delighted to find that the old sheep slept through his ruckus. I hope the poor thing was deaf.
Now, I’m going to try to make this post as concise to this particular story as possible, because it makes me think of so many other stories that I have the real potential to go into a full-fledged rant here. As my feet swelled and the boys turned into puddles constrained by stroller straps, we finished our fair tour by purchasing a last treat for the road. While the daddies waited in line for the preggo requests of french fries and fresh-squeezed lemonade both little boys lost their minds. It was an instance where they were both hot and tired, they needed to get in an air-conditioned car and collapse in their carseats. Unfortunately, I had an extra milk for Liam on hand. Jacob had finished all of his within the immediate vicinity. I unwittingly gave Liam his milk, only thinking about pacifying my own child, and Jacob was pissed. Both dads arrived back to the ruckus and we easily turned that BOB stroller toward the front gate (what a sweet baby ride, that BOB is). Plowing through the incoming crowd we passed a woman (I’ll be generous and give her late 50s, but probably older) who felt it necessary to holler above the fair din, while pointing accusingly from my friend to the stroller, “The SUN’s in their EYES. THAT’S why their upset.”
Oh. REALLY?? THAT’S your assessment, Complete Stranger? Both children are wearing sun hats AND have the stroller sun shade pulled down, but that must be it. Ya don’t think that maybe it’s because it’s a blazing hot day and one missed his nap and he’s really outraged that his friend has milk and he doesn’t? No, no, you’re probably right. It’s the freaking sun.
This could be the end of the story here, with the four of us laughing with tight-lips, offended at the thought of someone pointing out what sounded like a parenting fail. But no, we are feet from where our car is parked when we pass a grandmotherly-aged woman holding a toddler-aged [grand?]child who, I shit you not, makes the same accusatory remark. “The SUN’S in his eyes. THAT’S why he’s upset.”
My friend was so offended and I get it. I felt it too. Besides the fact that we’re sensitive preggos, these two women were making judgements based on a complete lack of understanding anything true about the situation. They may have been mothers to young children at one time, but it seems like once some women hit…I don’t know…menopause??…they forget some of the basic baby-rearing steps. First check food, then sleep, then diaper, then temperature. Of course, I learned all I know about babies from my mother, who did not turn foolish as it seems some have. I would trust my mother with any baby before myself. (xoxo, love you Mimi)
And then here’s the other part. As I foreshadowed at the beginning of the post, there were aaallll walks of life at the fair. I’m going to go ahead and put it out there that as far as a couple of families go we probably look average/normal. A couple of 30-ish year old mamas with boys dressed appropriately for the weather and doting fathers to help give shoulder rides and carry pregnant treats. What probably got under my skin more was that we were “picked on” out of the thousands of people to walk by these women. Not the hundreds of scantily dressed teen moms smoking cigarettes while their crusty-faced kids sniffled and choked. (Ok…you KNOW how I feel about THAT.) Not the newborns that were carried around without even a sun hat. (Don’t even tell me if the 1 month old is wearing sunscreen…no, it will not make me feel better.) Not the 2 year old guzzling a bottle of Mountain Dew. No, the children as covered from the sun as humanly possible for the moment, were pointed out as being inflicted by something that their parents can physically do no more to help the situation. Besides pick up the pace, which we did, as my friend and I spat curses back and forth about the two batty, nosey women.
Then again, maybe the other parents were being criticized at the fair. I mean, I just let them have it on my blog, defensively diverting attention away from myself. Maybe some big-mouth told the mom with the Mountain Dew kid that she had to be on crack. I didn’t because I know when I go out in public I’ll see parenting that I don’t agree with, but I don’t think pointing it out is the route to go. Do you?