When the kids are in the stroller, I can make pretty good time on the sidewalk and often have to get around people. Invariably, as soon as I get around them, one of the kids asks for something, which means that I have to stop, ask them to repeat what they said because their mouths point in the wrong direction and there is a cover in the way, and then retrieve the desired item or explain why it is currently unavailable. (In former East German, the term is “hamwanich.”)
In the meantime, the slower pedestrians have passed us again and I have to seize my opportunity once more, like a Formula 1 racer, braking out the others at the appropriate turn. Exciting stuff.
But when we walk, we are the ones blocking traffic. I tend to walk toward our destination. Madge skips or balances along imaginary lines. Coco touches or picks up valuable treasures along the way. (He currently has a fascination with Gingko tree berries – is it just me, or do those things smell like vomit? We call them stink-berries.)
Yesterday, on our way to school, we had a classic sidewalk moment. I’m in the middle, trying to “stay the course” like some incumbent politician, while my fringe groups are pulling in either direction. Meanwhile, there’s a third party trying to pass us.
She, dressed nicely for work (for once – it’s not like I’ve never seen her before, looking like she’s on a five-minute break from chain-smoking so as not to make a bad impression at the school), has a friend or colleague along. Just as they pass us, she mutters something about “some people” and “blocking the sidewalk.”
They pass us. No problem. I think to myself, “Oh, what a surprise. Slow-moving children on a sidewalk by a school. Who would expect such outrageous, anti-social behavior?”
Guess what happens next?
They get to the gate where she drops off her kids. They stop in the middle of the sidewalk. She bends over to kiss her kids goodbye, sticking out her fat tote-bag (and the thing you expected me to say). Her kids are older and boys, so of course they’re uncooperative, and her display of affection is quite a long affair.
In the meantime, guess who came by?
I wish I could tell you I was big enough not to mutter, “some people” and “blocking the sidewalk.”
But what can I say? I’m weak.