We had just gotten back from our west coast foray. Leaving the airport, we collected our bags, stroller, Bub, and headed to the train for our long ride home.
It was drawing dangerously near his bedtime. We changed to the red line. It was behind schedule, over-crowded, full of hot afternoon funk. We went all the way to the front and scored a small corner and two seats. Massive wave of relief.
About halfway home, three girls got on and sat right across the aisle from me, mad-dogging me like I was the Crazy on the train. They were loud-mouthing (‘Oh, I shouldn’t say that in front of a baby, tee-hee’) and generally being obnoxious drunks. With nothing of their own to talk about, they fixated on babies.
“I hate kids,” one said. Fine. I can deal with that. Harsh, but a generally not my problem. They probably don’t like you much, either. It’s not like I was eavesdropping; they were that loud, and I was currently playing the role of the Bub Whisperer to subdue his rage.
But then it turned personal, grumbling mutterances regarding bringing a baby on the train. “I mean, take a cab, right? It’s like forty bucks,” another said. “Are you that cheap?” She wasn’t really talking to me. Just at me. Now I needed my rage subdued, Bub. I stood up, leaned toward them. One screamed, one giggled.
“Excuse me, missy,” I roared. Apparently I was the Crazy on the train. “This is a public f***ing train, open to the public, of which I, my wife and child are members, as, unfortunately are you. If you don’t like my baby, then get the f*** off! And why don’t YOU get a f***ing cab? Since you announced to the car that you are getting off at Lawrence, a whopping five stops from whence you boarded, you probably would have paid LESS for a cab. So who’s the dumb &%$# #$%@&#%$@ now?!?!?!?!”
I admit to taking certain liberties with this narrative. Mainly the end. As in, it ever happened. The girls talked smack, I let them, eventually Lawrence came and they went without so much as a scowl from me.
Just yesterday we saw our old landlord out watering the lawn of one of his buildings. Quick recap: we moved out well over a year ago, he screwed us out of the vast majority of our deposit, we threatened legal action, which only fell apart because the legal council ended up being far more despicable than the landlord. Still, not exactly a friendly severance.
So we’re obviously with Bub, it’s been a while, he has many tenants, but surely it registered somewhere, though he looked at us blankly. To help refresh his memory, I charged him, tackled and pinned him, usurped his hose and began exacting a little Chinese water torture vengeance upon him, screaming about normal wear and tear.
Okay, that didn’t happen either. I didn’t even give him the bird as we walked by, which I could have totally gotten away with. We just kept walking. I looked away. What was going on here?
Maybe it’s maturing, maybe I’ve mellowed, maybe I’m just choosing my battles. I actually utilize crosswalks now, wait for the green. My wife tells me I even drive less angry these days. Ouch. But I think I’m really just developing an awareness, a filter for myself of how I want to behave as a parent. I can’t protect my child from myriad outside forces no matter how hard I try, how much I prepare, how cautious I am. But I can control myself, before my parenting skills are judged by the only critic whose opinion truly matters—my son’s.
By the way, I still manage to rage in the Toyota once in a while. I just make sure the car seat is unoccupied.