Shopping for supplies for our house concert yesterday, I figured I'd pick up a car seat for Eric's two and 1/2 year old granddaughter - she'll be arriving for a visit on Tuesday with her mother, Eric's daughter Luci (lousy UK winter weather permitting). We'd already searched Craigslist for a used one and figured that with the prices people were charging for a juice and string cheese-encrusted used seat, we could get a serviceable one new. (One ad actually said "Used seat for sale, we rolled over in an accident and the kid lived so seat works".) I got a kick out of pushing a shopping cart up and down the supermarket aisles with the car seat protruding out of the top of the cart; as I wheeled in the direction of other customers, occasionally someone would cast a benign glance in the direction of this older "mother" and her docile passenger in the car seat, who turned out to be a box of lightbulbs and 2 jumbo bags of tortilla chips.
For a brief moment I was back in the world of mothers and kids. Preparing to settle into the indulgent world of grandparents (or step - step counts!)
I remembered how all the world's a judge where children are concerned, full of cheery good will but also criticism and comments like "shouldn't that child be wearing a hat?" "Isn't he/she too hot/cold in that?" "Imagine bringing a child into a place like this", etc. How does it work for the generation once removed?
Out in the parking lot several spaces away from a crabby-looking couple loading groceries into a Subaru, I amused myself by carefully lifting the car seat out of the trolley, cooing and tucking an imaginary blanket and then flinging the thing onto the floor of the rear of the minivan, slamming the door, giving a hearty "alright in there" thump on the glass and peeling out.
Come Tuesday, we'll be playing for real.