During a shopping trip to Meijer last week, the Toddler and I took a stroll through the children’s clothing section. The display of winter hats reminded me that for the first season ever, we won’t be receiving hand-me-downs from our dealer in DC. To ease into this whole shopping ordeal, I told the toddler he could pick out his second-ever-thing-from-a-store (first one was sheets). He went straight for the owl.
The kid loves owls. What did I think I was going to get? The rock-n-roll guitar cap? The problem was that the owl hat was big enough to fit me. Granted, I’ve got a small head, and the Toddler has a big one. Still. I tried excitedly pointing to a hat in his size. No dice. He was already taking the owl off, admiring it, and shoving it back on his head.
All the while saying, “Oh, hooo hooo. Dat’s a owl. Hoooo. Oh, ya…a owl.”
A sequined pink owl.
We weren’t two feet from the hat display when a passerby (she’s always a woman around the age of your own mother) said, “Gender neutral, eh?”
I chuckled, “Well, I told him he could pick out his hat. This was his choice.”
She replied (she always has a reply), smiling, “That’s gonna go over great at school.”
I stopped smiling, but kept my voice light, “Well, he’s only two, so no school.”
She couldn’t let it go, smiling, “Well, daddy is gonna be really happy about that hat.”
Jeez, lady. What the HELL?
My confident response was, “Daddy will be just fine.”
The whole interaction happened while she was passing us on the other side of the Quilted Northern toilet paper. I thought of all kinds of clever retorts after she’d moved on.
“The only one with a problem here is you, lady.” [Tosses a roll of toilet paper at the woman’s head.]
“Daddy? What daddy? My wife and I bought some sperm and voila! I grew a person with a penis.”
“[Bleep, bleep, bleep!] You’re a freak show if she you are bothered by a little boy in a pink hat. [Bleep, bleep, bleep!]”
The Toddler was demonstrably happy with his choice. He is rarely demonstrably happy. We walked to the checkout lane. He was so happy with his hat, he was perfectly fine being lifted back into the cart. It’s a miracle to have a happy child while you are placing things on a store’s conveyor belt. Ask anyone who works in a checkout lane.
I was still muttering to myself about that stranger’s intolerance when the seven-year-old girl in the cart ahead of us said, “I like your hat.”
“Ya,” I said, “He likes owls.”
She said, “I like the sparkles.”
I prompted the Toddler to say thank you, but he was too busy petting his new owl friend. The stranger lady’s voice was erased from my mind. This little girl saved the day.
I meant to recount the tale to the Swedelock after the Toddler was in bed that night. But I forgot. Then I kept forgetting. A few days passed. One evening the boys were playing elevator in the living room closet.
It went something like, “Bing! Let’s go up. Oh, library. Bing! Going down. Oh, basement.”
The millionth time the closet door opened, I looked up from my book (I’m lying: iPad).
The Swedelock–sequined pink owl shoved on his head–said, “This is cool. Where did it come from?”
I told you, lady. I told you Daddy would be fine with the hat.