Friday, November 20, 2009


Sometimes, things turn out as they should, and sometimes less so.

Last Friday, I took the baby out on one of our frequent jaunts down to 125th Street, and he wasn’t wearing anything under his jeans. This was intentional. I usually put him in training pants when we go out, but sometimes I just skip it. The reason is that the less he is wearing, the more motivated I am to offer him the potty. (You probably think this is crazy. Guess what? I don’t care.) The thing is, I usually only have him go commando when we are going to the playground, or running to the bank or to Duane Reade; this was pretty much the first time we embarked on a more involved outing with no protection, so to speak.

First, we stopped by Old Navy, where I returned two shoddily-made shirts and bought two other shoddily-made shirts (the two I bought, of course, cost more than the two I returned). I offered him the potty at Old Navy, but he resisted with some vigor, probably for aesthetic and sanitary reasons: the Old Navy lady’s room is seriously gross. Next, we went to Starbucks. I got a coffee and he got a packet of cashews and a banana. I considered taking him to the bathroom, but there were three people in line, and waiting in line is not exactly a twenty-two-and-a-half-month-old’s favorite activity, so I decided to skip it. We sat down at a table together, and he munched quietly and adorably on cashews and banana while I drank coffee. On the whole, I was feeling pretty smug; whose baby was as cute and grown-up and well-behaved as mine? After a little while, I thought it might be about time to wrap things up and noodle on back home, but there was one thing bothering me, or rather two.

Those two things were the sneakers belonging to a slightly crazy-looking lady in her fifties sitting over by the cream-and-sugar-and-napkins station. Her sneakers had caught my eye the moment I walked in the door. They were bronze and high-topped and velcroed, and they were possibly the most brilliant sneakers I have ever seen in my life. I wanted, more than anything, to ask the woman where she got those sneakers, because I was pretty sure that I really, really needed a pair. I held back, though, for a couple of reasons. First, the woman did look a little crazy. She was dressed rather unbelievably fashionably in black zipper-bottom leggings and a grey turtleneck sweater with a chunky rib and of course those incredible sneakers, but there were some hints of something a little off, like the flyaway grey hair and the three large plastic tote bags stuffed full of who-knows-what and the purse with a panda printed on it. I was worried that she might be truly crazy and did not want to involve myself in a conversation with her if that was the case. Also, people are always watching each other at Starbucks even when they appear not to be, and there is no better way to call attention to yourself than marching up to people at other tables and asking them where they bought their footwear. So I was feeling sort of hesitant.

However, in the end, I realized that I absolutely had to do it, because these sneakers were truly brilliant and I would truly regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t find out where I, too, might obtain such brilliance for my very own feet. While I was still in the throes of this decision-making process, my son had climbed from his chair into his stroller and then down to the floor, where he was chasing cashews. Having decided to approach the sneaker issue head-on, I scooped him up from the floor and immediately felt that his bottom was wet. He had obviously peed in his pants, but I was not too concerned, as the accident was a minor one, and we were about to head home. Anyway, my focus was on the sneakers, so I hoisted his wet butt to my hip and headed towards the maybe-crazy lady. The lady, happily, turned out to be perfectly lucid and pleasant to boot: the sneakers had come from the skate-punk-chic shoe store right next door, she said, and they were skateboarding sneakers, and they were really comfortable. I should get some too, she said.

Flushed with success and proud of myself for going a little out of my comfort zone, I headed back to my table to gather our things to go. Just as I reached the table, though, the light coming through the window changed a little bit, and I happened to glance down. Hmm, I thought, the floor seems to be a little wet. And then, Hmm, the floor is actually quite wet. And then, Wait, these are PUDDLES. And then, Shit, these are PEE PUDDLES. I kept moving as these thoughts occurred to me, and by the time I was fully awake to the fact that, rather than chasing cashews as I had thought, my baby had been squatting and peeing lakes on the floor at Starbucks, I had put on our coats and buckled the baby into the stroller. I was in a surreptitious panic. What should I do? Should I tell someone to mop it up? Should I just leave? I should just leave. Leave. Leave. LEAVE. No one noticed anything. JUST LEAVE.

And so I left. As I backed out of the door with the stroller, I saw an aproned barista come out from behind the counter with a mop and head straight towards the lakes of pee. It then came upon me that of course people had noticed what had happened - people are always watching each other at Starbucks, even when they appear not to be. The baristas had noticed, the folks sitting at the tables next to me had noticed, everyone except me had noticed. I had been too busy thinking about footwear to see what everyone else saw. They saw my baby squat and pee, and they saw me subsequently scoop him up and go ask some crazy-looking old white lady where she got her sneakers, and they saw me walk back through the pee, calmly buckle my baby's wet butt into his stroller, wheel the stroller through the pee, and go out the door, leaving wet pee tracks behind me. The entire scene was mortifying, but it was far too late to do anything about it. I was already out the door and on the corner of 125th and Adam Clayton, shaking a little bit with caffeine and shame. It had suddenly turned cold and very, very windy. It was so windy, in fact, that the stroller kept blowing into the street, and I gave up after a block and took a cab home. After we got upstairs and I changed the baby’s wet pants, I realized that our half-eaten banana had fallen out of the stroller basket into the trunk of the cab. I hope the driver found it before it was too late.

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