the one with the really old face


From the very moment I became a mom, I began a love/hate relationship with the idea of my child talking.  I couldn’t wait for him to use real words to express his needs rather than just crying and hoping for the best.  But alas, knowing how poorly I filter what comes out of my own mouth, I could only imagine what my toddler might spout off.  One such time, out of numerous instances, happened when Cade was just a little over two:

We had gotten Colin’s six-month pictures taken at JC Penny’s , and I ventured out to the mall with both boys in tow to pick up the pics.  (Did you see his picture above?  Does that not just scream "JCPENNY 2008"?!)  We got there just as the photographer (who doubles as the cashier) started ringing up the people in front of us.  The ladies in front of us were quite eclectic and were drawing attention to themselves as they waited.  My sweet two-year-old, Cade, was taking it all in, and then he asked me, “How come she doesn’t have any eyebrows?”  I heard his soft little voice and prayed that the ladies did not.  I shushed him as discretely as I could, which mistakenly signaled to him to ask his question louder.  So then I’m torn between trying to keep him quiet and trying to sneak a peek at the lady without eyebrows.  I’m not gunna lie- I was a little intrigued myself at this point.  He is a persistent little bugger, and asked a second and third time, in a louder voice each time, of course.  Not knowing the story behind the missing eyebrows, I was not sure if one would be offended when such an absence of facial hair is pointed out.  I didn’t know if this was an ethnic thing and my whiteness was showing, or if it was okay to talk about? 

So I said the only logical thing that came to my mind, “Oh honey, everyone has eyebrows.  That’s how God made us.”  I thought that if my whiteness was offensive, maybe my Godness would make up for it.  But Cade-who-misses-nothing wasn’t falling for that one.  “No they don’t.  SHE doesn’t have any eyebrows.”  Now it was getting personal.  I could no longer pretend it was a hypothetical question.  Grasping for anything to deter the obvious, I looked up at the pictures on the wall and said, “Oh her!  The lady in the picture?!  Yes, sweetheart, she has eyebrows.  They are just hard to see.”  Whew.  Dodged an brow pencil to the eye on that one.  Why was this photo-taking cashier taking forever, anyway?!  Didn’t she know that I could only keep my son quiet for so long before he would start pointing out every else’s offenses too?

“No, Mumma.  Not the picture.  Her.  Right there. “  (Lord Jesus, take me now.)

But he continued….

“Her.  The one with the really old face.”  (Whose kid is this?!  Am I being punked? )

At this point, there was nothing I could do.  They could hear every word we were saying when it was just about the missing eyebrows; they sure heard the really old face accusation.  I had no idea what was the next right thing to do.  I wanted to apologize; but if I apologized then I couldn’t deny it was happening.  I was still holding out hope for the denial route, honestly. 

The ladies, thankfully, were chuckling.  Not outright laughing, but willing to at least not be offended.  They even started elbowing each other, saying “he’s talking about you,” and “naw, girl, he’s talking about you and your OLD face.” 

What did I do next?  I totally chickened out.  I knew Cade was not done talking about the eyebrows, and I knew I could not stand there behind these ladies and try to offer up any sort of explanation that made any sense.  I played the baby card.  I totally stuck my hand on Colin’s little crotch and said, “Oh my!  You need a diaper change, mister!” and whipped that stroller right around, kicked it up to a power walk, and strutted like only mom jeans can strut.  I had given it a valiant effort, but realized that the real world was just not for us.  I was going home and not returning to the mall until my child was old enough to know that when I squeeze your little arm, you stop talking.