Monday, November 22, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 6 - Visitors

The funny thing about bringing a baby to Florida is everyone wants to stop and talk to you about the baby – not just residents of Harbor View, but people at the supermarket, the shopping mall, and the gas station. Now, I know that babies are cute, and I’m not saying that people don’t stop me up North every so often; they do.

However, back home, the person usually would say, “Cute baby.”

I’d say, “Thanks.”

They’d say, “How old is she?”

I’d say, “Eight months.”

They’d say, “Well, enjoy her. It goes by fast.” And that would be the end of the encounter.

In Florida I went shopping in the supermarket one day, when an old woman struck up a conversation with me. It went something like this:

Old woman: What a cute baby you have. Is it a boy or a girl?

Me: It’s a little girl. (I wanted to say, “She has pink clothes on, a ribbon in her hair, and earrings in her ears, what do you think?”)

Old woman: How old is she?

Me: Eight months.

Old woman: Ohhh, I have a grandson who is eight months old. But he lives so far away. I’ve only seen him once. He’s very cute. He looks very much like your daughter.

Me: Thanks. That’s nice. Well, I’d better continue with my shopping.

Old woman: Little Jacob just started crawling. He’s named after my late husband, you know. Is your baby crawling?

Me: Yes, she is.

Old woman: Well, Jacob is very smart just like his father – my son. He loves to have the phone up to his ear and listen to grandma talk to him.

Me: Yeah, our daughter likes that, too.

Old woman: Do you mind if I just tickle her cute little toes? (Of course she asked this after she had already started playing with my baby’s toes.)

Me: Well, the doctor said I should try not to have too many people touching her so she doesn’t get sick. She hasn’t had all of her vaccines yet.

Old woman: Aah, doctors today are too overly protective. In my day, babies lived with their grandparents and were handled by everyone in the village. You know, Jacob, my late husband, not my grandson, and I both come from the same village in Russia?

Me: Well, that’s nice but I really must go. The baby gets really fussy at naptime and she’s way past due.

Old woman: Oh, my Jacob never gets fussy. They say he’s such a good baby. Awww, I wish I could see him more.

Tears started to well up in the old woman’s eyes. I did feel bad, but at the rate she was talking, I was going to spend my whole Florida vacation in the supermarket rather than at the pool.

Me: That’s too bad. Well, nice meeting you. I really must go.

I dashed off to the next aisle before the old woman could say another word.

“Phew!” I breathed a sigh of relief just as an old man tapped me on the shoulder.

Old man: What a sweet baby you have. I have a granddaughter just about her age. She lives in New Jersey, though. She’s a looker she is…

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 5 - Visitors

I have since gotten married and have a baby of my own. Thankfully, I am no longer ‘the single daughter.’ As I have mentioned, I live in the DC suburbs, while Mom and Dad and all of the rest of my family live in the Philadelphia area, where I grew up. So now when I visit Florida, Mom introduces me as “my daughter who moved far away from me, as opposed to my other daughter who chose to stay near her mother.”

In spite of this introduction, I still visit Mom and Dad at Harbor View once a year, except now those visits include my husband and our daughter. Unfortunately, now all of us cannot sleep on the pull-out sofa in the living room of Mom and Dad’s condo. We have to stay at a nearby hotel instead.

I knew that Mom would be thrilled when I told her that we wouldn’t be staying at her condo anymore because I thought it was too small and cramped, and that their sofa bed was very uncomfortable. I knew she would be happy that we wouldn’t be there to mess up her morning routine or clutter the apartment. She actually had a song in her voice when she replied, “That’s too bad; we’ll miss you staying with us.” My husband, on the other hand, was less than thrilled.

“Sweetheart, if we stay in a hotel when we visit your folks,” he said to me, “it’s going to cost quite a bit of money. After all, it is high season in Florida that time of year.”

“Well, what can we do? I’m not staying in their small condo,” I replied.

“How about if we just go to an island this year? It’ll cost the same amount of money.”

“But that’s not the point, honey. We’re not just going for vacation, we’re also going to see my parents,” I said.

“Name one good reason I would have for choosing Florida with your folks for vacation over a beautiful, sunny, tropical island?” he questioned me.

“Mom and Dad will babysit so we can go out,” I answered him.

“Start packing, we’re going to Florida,” he replied.