Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Deemed Unsafe

When we were homeschooling a few years ago, my short husband, a/k/a youngest son, and I were on a group field trip to a huge pizza-making factory. I, and the other parents on the trip, were assigned our own child plus five to watch. I've always been lucky enough that my boy is crazy about me and sticks to me like glue, so I had no worries about whether or not he wanted to be with me. I also had absolute confidence in my abilities and zero concerns about losing any child in my care -- I've always been very responsible. However, based on who knows what criteria, there was something about me that pushed a fellow chaperoning parent to the point of her having to ask me every 20 minutes during the two and a half hour tour, So, all your kids with you?

Yesss. All six.

20 minutes later, same question, So, how many kids with you now? 

Still. Six.

I think I know what it was that weighed on her and made her twitchy: my group was having fun, lots of it; the usual faces back and forth and imitations of tossing pizza dough up in the air and missing it. I behaved on this trip and promised myself that I wouldn't get defensive with this woman, no snarky words would slip out.

You know Gloria on Modern Family? Not a Colombian exaggeration. Push us enough and you'll hear about it. But I bit my lip and kept it all inside because my son had asked me to, as all three of  my three children usually do when they set out the Rules We Must Follow On Field Trips This Means You, Mom speech given to me pre-public appearances.

This mom had her own child with her in her group, so the issue couldn't be fear of losing him via me. My son also noticed her apparition-like appearances, the Ghost of Nosiness Present. His heavy sighs were timed at the exact moments as mine in response to her questions. I saw him roll his eyes as we'd sense her approach. I saw him with the identical fake tight lipped smile skill I have come to perfect. As soon as the six in my group and I would begin with the enjoyment of an afternoon together, she'd be over in two seconds like she had heelies on.

By the end of the trip, she had me chomping my gum like a 1930's mobster to keep my mouth quiet. More than anything, I wanted to say What the heck already, lady … enough with the Amber Alert with my group. Does it bother you that much that we enjoy a few snorts and chortles here? When it came time to board the bus back home, she floated to the front of the line where we were like Casper the meddling ghost.

All your kids here before we head home? She queried.

Yup. All six. Still.

When my son and I found our seats in the middle of the bus and sat down, I looked at him and made cross eyes, slumped my shoulders, shook my head, and maturely stuck my tongue out. He covered his mouth and giggled. I know, he then whispered seriously, shaking his head and crossing his own eyes in a perfect unintentional imitation of me. I. Know, he continued, What the heck, right? Instead of keeping on asking you if you lost any kids, why didn't that lady just say I'm worried about you losing kids because you don't behave like a normal mom.

I sputtered out laughing. If the adorableness next to me at that moment was the end product of being raised by a socially suspect woman, then I don't think I have ever felt prouder of being deemed unsafe in my life. 

Hmmmm... now who'd Baby E learn that face from?

**Twilight without Edward Cullen? Please let it not be true....details on my post today at Sprocket Ink.


  1. Wow, you're such an amazing mom. Not just for keeping track of six kids but for holding your tongue towards that crazy lady in order not to embarrass your son. Good for you, I'm not sure I have that kind of self control.

  2. LOVE this, my friend. You should be up there for a sainthood nomination for holding your tongue with that woman. A thousand snarky responses would have so tumbled from my lips.

    And? You really should live here in NYC with the rest of us very un-normal moms, because I and all my friends behave just like you on field trips - more like giant kids than moms. And you know what? We've never lost a kid on a trip yet, either. (Newsflash to uptight lady: you don't have to have a stick up your butt to be responsible.)

    Love the picture of you & your handsome young men, too.

  3. I love you. You make me cry because I love you so much.

  4. You are extremely socially suspect. In fact, I've had you on my watch list for years now.

    I got my eye on you, Alexandra.


    Oh right...an awesome one!

    One time, I had another mother badger me in the same way for God knows what. I told myself that she's probably mad because her husband left the toilet seat up and she took a morning dip. Rather than get frustrated, I had to stifle laughter every time she came to annoy me.

  6. Sounds like "Claire" came along, too! Honestly, where do these moms come from?? Obviously they aren't blogging since we're all incredibly fun-AND responsible.

  7. Good for you for having the ability to be the follower of Mom, These Rules Are For You. I'm giggling b/c I am so unable (at times) to hold in comments and be a normal person. I am imagining yelling HOLY CRAP NO, I'VE LOST ONE! Quick, down on all fours to track his scent. That, or asking her if she remembered which one was holding my weed.

  8. This is why I very, very seldom chaperoned any field trips. Not only because I hate kids, but because I REALLY hate their parents.

    I'm impressed you didn't haul off an punch her, or just let loose on her. You are a paragon.


  9. You're cool! She was a bitch! 'Nuf said!

  10. This is my first comment before the Empress. Do I bow or bring gifts? I apologize for my ignorance.

    So, I have a similar problem in that I have an entourage when I travel. Usually when we leave the house it's me, my wife, my 16 year old daughter, one of her teenage friends, my 10 year old niece, my 8 year old daughter, and my 7 year old daughter. If you're playing along at home there are minimum 4 women with me, sometimes as many as 7 women with me when I am in public. I get a lot of:

    a) well, it will quite a wait for a party that large
    b) oh bless your heart a man with all those females....oh lordy
    c) general avoidance and inconvenience

    You're a good mother.

  11. Is it odd that this just made my eyes well up?? THAT is so fantastic. I hope my son thinks the same of me, Alexandra. I never want to be a "Normal Mom". I do have to say though... There's no way I could've bit my lip as long as you did. I'm impressed as hell.

  12. smiles....here is to beeing deemed unsafe...smiles...you know your kids had more fun than the others....i like playing chaperone as well...of course my mohawk keeps the parents on edge enough...but the kids love it...smiles.

  13. *Devious Grin* So love this! And I concur with the long line of "HOW DID YOU HOLD YOUR TONGUE FOR SO LONG!?" comments! HA! I would have been hard-pressed not to add or delete a few children with each inquiry! Goodness. I take such delight in observing other parents unafraid to find humor and joy in the life of their wee ones. I believe in ruling mine with an iron fist as they are equally as strong willed as I - but in those moments, where I'm rolling down a grassy hill with them, tromping along in a pond of duck crap, or jumping in the neighbor's leaves - those are the moments I feel most loved! You are an amazing Mom with amazing kiddos! Enjoy them and let Casper meet her haunting quotas elsewhere! :)

  14. I would have lasted for 3 of her questions and then burst open like a dam.

  15. All I can say is, why are people so weird?

    I would jump at the chance for your to watch my kids and giggle them up.

  16. Kids are cute. Their parents usually suck.

    This is precisely why we should be allowed to punch Type-A, overly controlling mothers in the face.

    Obviously, I have anger issues about this.

  17. Let's get together and make faces at others, shall we? No one will ask us to watch their children but oh, how we will laugh

  18. It is sad when a person's insecurity causes her to project negativity onto another.

    And by "person" I mean her and by "another" I mean you.

    Clearly, this woman was uncomfortable about the fact that your kids were enjoying themselves so much. She couldn't possibly reconcile her own group's boredom with your group's safety.

    Sorry you had to endure her repeated intrusion. But I suppose it's just a side-effect of being awesome, perhaps?

    Sigh. Somebody has to do it.
    Might as well be you...

    p.s. Keep being you.

  19. Only YOU could make that snarky woman entertaining , Bravo to you. I am very bad abut keeping my mouth shut, esp around uptight moms...what is a field trip without a little fun? I am afraid I would have kept quiet long enough to call my best friend and make fun of her. ;)

  20. Oh, I can relate. I was always the "weird mom" on the field trips, too.

    Good for you for not being another one of the imperious stuffed shorts! *sticks tongue out and crosses eyes*



  21. I am sooo that same mom! I like to think I inherited that trait from my mom. She was always the trouble mom too.

  22. You're a hero to keep quiet like that. We call those women uber-mommies. They're all perfect, their children are perfect and if anything is imperfect we'll never know about it. Blergh!
    You are awesome and so is your son.

  23. My oldest and I have a private joke like that about one of the cantors in church. We'll roll our eyes and whisper to each other oh-so-quietly when it's his day.

    Sometimes it's so fun to share a moment with your children as they're growing up - a moment that shows them you, Mom, have a sense of humor too.

  24. You are a much better person than me, Madam. I would have totally messed with her.

    "Still six kids?"

    "No, those two over there evolved from kids into Transformers, so that makes 4 kids, 2 morphing vehicles."

    Or probably better,

    "Six? I'm supposed to have six? You mean I have to LEAVE here with six? And the whole reason I came was to leave the neighbor kids here so they'll stop playing in my yard and eating my food! This place SUCKS!"

    I don't get out much, though. Is that a good excuse?

  25. Silly woman. Don't you know that fun is unsafe? That laughter could send a boy spinning off into the universe never to be seen again? How dare anyone entrust you with six young, impressionable people. For shame. For shame.

    I love you. And I would've loved to hear your account of going off all Sofia-like on that woman. :) But big props to you for keeping your cool. XO

  26. Dear Alexandra, I am new to blogging and really enjoyed your writing. Congratulations on all of your awards! My blog uses humor to describe my life as a mom of a teen, coping with middle age and the ups and downs of nearly 2 decades with the love of my life. You are an inspiration! Feel free to check me out! http://www.lisagradessweinstein.blogspot.com/
    I am now following you!
    All the best, Lisa

  27. At first I thought she was just anal and then I realized, she was just jealous!! Oh, she knew what she was trying to make you feel. She's not fun and she feels threatened by you. Wanna bet her kid was going, "why can't I be in Ms. Alexandra's group?!" and you did not react in front of her! Did not give her the satisfaction! You are brilliant!

    Anyway, you're awesome. Your boys are so lucky. I love that sweet bonding moment you two had. :-)

  28. This is why I never accept more than 3 kids on a field trip - because we would have way too much fun and I just know I would lose one. Don't tell anyone that truth.

  29. This is why you are an Empress and I am a serf. I would never have been able to hold my tongue that long AND I probably would have misplaced a kid. (That's not true, actually. But I did teach high school and I loved field trips even though they were exhausting. It was so great to bust out of the school and have fun; it's crazy to try to limit a child's fun when they are learning.) And Baby E! I miss your columns, dude.

  30. You are an AMAZING mom and if I had a group, I'd be over on your side asking if you want to glop them all together and show the pizza joint how to REALLY make pizza!

  31. I don't think I could have made it through without saying something.

  32. Ugh, that lady sounds like a monster. And that photo is proof that you are a wonderful mommy... who just so happens to know how to have a good time with your kids. That's the best kind there is. XOXO

  33. Whoa. H o w did you not react? You really are an empress. And evidently a great mother and an example to kids and the rest of us-- an inspiration!

  34. 'my short husband', snort!

  35. Haha, he's too cute! Every time she asked if you had all your kids, you should have said "Yes, and they're all having fun. What about yours?" But then that may have violated the "mom on a field trip rules of conduct." Props to you for keeping the peace. :)

  36. How did she keep track of her kids when she was so busy keeping an eye on you? Yeesh!

  37. I'm impressed. I think I would have had to do the "talk to the hand" after about the third inquiry. You would do anything for your boys wouldn't you! Even the ultimate sacrifice... to play nicey nicey with the other mom's on the playground. Well don Empress. We are all proud of you.

  38. Awww that was so sweet at the end. Well done on biting your tongue. She was annoying me just reading about it and LOVED Casper the meddling ghost. :)

  39. You know what I call those sort of Nosy Nellies? Funsuckers. And you, had a hovering fun sucker, trying to suck the life out of your group.

    Our Empress, so full of grace.

    I'm the mom that the teacher gives all the tough kids to on the field trip. I don't put up with ridiculousness, like bad manners or defiance of the field trip rules, but we always have fun. And usually, those tough kids, are some of the most well behaved, when given firm ground rules, but enough space to be a kid. Ironically? Most of the kids I get are the boys, me the mom of all these girls. And let me tell you, boys know how to have a raucous great time on field trips.

  40. I reserve my taco punches for special people like her.
    You are a wonderful Mom.

  41. You, all of you: I've said it before: why WHY WHY can't we start our own little small town? compound? living together people thingy?


  42. you're a far better woman than me...the sarcasm and snark would have been rolling off the tongue after the first 4 or 5 inquiries....

  43. Please be my chaperone? I need one. Just to remind me I'm still here.

  44. You are a patient woman, Alexandra. I would have probably lost it by the third time she asked. Or maybe asked her the same dang question every 15 minutes. Hee hee hee.

    And what's that at the end of your post??? Twilight without Edward Cullen??? Whaaaaat??? I must check. pronto.

  45. Just catching up on your blog.....and chose to comment on this particular post.

    I daresay this woman wasn't concerned you lost kids, she was probably jealous that you were actually having FUN with the kids!

    I've often encountered this kid of mom, she needs to chill out, enjoy her kids, enjoy her life, and maybe get the big O more often!

  46. I think if, someday, my daughter tells me I don't behave like a regular Mom, I might explode with pride. But that's just a guess.

    1. You WILL.

      Oh you will.

      I love that my kids double over with laughter with me. To make kids laugh? My piece of heaven. I love hearing them say, YOU are SO funny, mom.

  47. Just to play devil's advocate here. The lady has to be on top of things because the lawsuit that awaits when a child goes missing falls on her head and the head of the school district, not you.

    When my brother the guidance counselor at a high school scolded a football player for throwing baby powder on the gym floor during half time of the basketball game a father/mantype walked over and mockingly applauded the boy and said "don't listen to that guy". To which my brother explained that the boys behavior was inappropriate and unsafe - the cheerleaders were about to take the floor for the halftime routine and the basketball team would be back to finish the game. The baby powder made the floor too slippery for both groups to continue until the cleaning crew got the floor cleaned up. A huge delay in the game.
    So that "fun" parents who that the LeBron James impression was hilarious only made matters worse.

    1. I am very responsible. The woman bothering me was in charge of nothing. She was just another field trip mom, like me.

      The teachers had no worries, neither did the tour guides.

      This busy body was worried about who knows what. But she was no one responsible for anything, dear anonymous. SO I don't see why a lawsuit that awaits would go to her.

      She was just a chaperone, equal level to what I was.

      And there was no baby powder involved.

      I know inhaling baby powder is soooper bad for your lungs. Also, baby powder is not my idea of a "fun" parent, but joking with children and making eye contact with them, is high on my list.

  48. Haha! Excellent story. The only thing that would have been better would be if SHE lost a kid. :)

  49. You reacted perfectly and with restraint. I'm actually the goofy *and* nosy parent. I have no problem being known as the cautious one, nor do I mind that people often give me the hairy eyeball trying to figure out what the HECK is going on with me and my charges. It takes all kinds. And while the Empress may indeed be super responsible, we don't know what was actually going on in her head or if she is dealing with her own emotional challenges.

    I do disagree with those who are saying she (the nervous mom) is responsible for no one but her six kiddos. As a parent on a field trip, especially with young ones, I think all the adults are responsible for all the children. Or have we moved on from "It takes a village" already?

  50. Oh man, too funny...and sad for her!
    Rock on!!!

  51. Did I read that you're Colombian? I am too! Well, half Colombian, half Mexican. Which means I'm even crazier than Gloria (who makes me laugh...loudly). Glad I found you on Studio 30 Plus!



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