How I shall miss the library quiet of people flipping through racks of music a few years from now when we're all downloading compressed lo-fi songs to our iPhones or whatever the hell we're talking on then. But that's another entry...
A mom has her four-year-old along while she picks up her new Death Cab for Cutie or whatever. He's running around putting CDs in his mouth, knocking over box sets that cost more than my car, somewhat normal rambunctious kid behavior. Her conversation with her son carries throughout the store: "Justin, you need to be next to me here now. You've shown me I can't trust you to be alone in the DVD section." "This is why mommy doesn't want you to have sweet snacks in the morning."
What stuck with me about this was not the kid's behavior or the mom's handling of it. It wasn't even that I couldn't possibly miss a single word of their interaction. Instead, it was the stagey quality of the mom's speech. This was not, it seemed to me, an unvarnished glimpse into a particular parent/child relationship. I seriously doubt this was the way this woman spoke to her child at home. This was theater. She was keenly aware of her audience, and in a way she was speaking to us more than to him. And maybe it stuck with me because it seems to me many (most) of us do this same thing, even the alt-rock parents cruising the CD stores.
It makes me think of a certain kind of guy you see walking his dog on the street--and yes, it's always a guy. While you wait for the light at the crosswalk, he hisses commands at and gives strange hand signals to his animal in a way that's supposed to make him look in control, but always makes him look a bit desperate and sad.
In the way that women are sometimes said to dress for other women, are a few too many of our parenting choices--especially the ones that happen outside of our homes--made for other parents instead of our kids? If my kids were old enough to grasp the peculiar dynamics of the adult world, would they call me on this and say, "Hey, Dad, what happened to the slack-ass we know from home? Who's this show for?"