Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A disturbing experience

I'm all for trying to establish healthy habits in your small children, but...

Wait, I'll start at the beginning. Helen had a dentist's appointment, and Kai and I had dropped her off and then gone out for some father/son breakfast time. When we came back, there was a mom sitting in the waiting room with a small daughter -- I'd guess maybe five years old or so -- and a slightly older son.

I stepped over to the coffee machine that Dr. Rimes keeps in his office there, and the following conversation took place behind my back, but with the mom's part pitched at a level of volume that clearly was deliberately intended...well, you know, she was pretending to be talking only to her children (so that if I had turned around and complained she would have pretended that she hadn't realized I could overhear her), but she VERY clearly intended for me to hear. I found this amusing...at first.

LITTLE GIRL: Look, mommy, he's getting coffee! They have coffee here!

MOMMY: Yes, I see that.

LITTLE GIRL: Can I have some coffee?

MOMMY: No, dear, you can't.

LITTLE GIRL: Why not?

MOMMY: Because it's bad for you.

LITTLE GIRL: Why is it bad for you?

[I am amused at this point because this is such a typical child-and-parent conversation].

MOMMY: It's because it has caffeine in it, and caffeine is very very bad for you. It will make you sick. You should never drink caffeine. [Her voice, already clearly audible to me, ratchets up a few decibels so that I won't miss the next comment.] Only very stupid people ever drink caffeine. It's a poison.

[I am even more amused at the transparency of her attempt to get away with verbally slapping down a stranger while maintaining what she fondly believes to be plausible deniability. I return the favor by chuckling just audibly enough to be sure she can hear me.]

LITTLE GIRL: But why is caffeine so bad for you?

[Here MOMMY pauses briefly to think of a reason, and then comes up with a real doozie.]

MOMMY: Because it's made from horse pee.

[I stop chuckling. The boy, for the first time, shows interest in the conversation.]

LITTLE BOY: [Pronouncing the word carefully, obviously savoring it] You mean U-RINE? It's made out of horse urine?

MOMMY: Yes. That's why if you drink caffeine it will eventually kill you.

[Fortunately, at just this moment Helen comes walking into the waiting room, thus allowing me to immediately start talking to her in a loud enough voice to drown out the suddenly disturbing conversation coming from the other corner of the waiting room; and so I don't know what else they said. Thank God.]

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