Hey guys? I need some advice. This is longer than usual but if you could read to the end and then weigh in I'd appreciate it...
The other day we went to Costco as planned and just as I feared, Michelle Paul (the baby coconut) was buckled in and ready to make the trip.
The outing was uneventful. The coconut got plopped in the shopping cart and, frankly, there was so much food in the cart only a few people noticed her. I got a couple strange looks but nobody said a word. Mostly they just wanted to shove by us and get to the free samples because they were handing out delicious cream puffs--who can blame them?
And then we went to Target.
We only needed three items so the coconut-baby was much more prominently displayed. A few folks stopped us to ask good-naturedly
about the kinda strange looking green thing swaddled in a too large shirt what exactly we had in the cart. And of course we ran into a friend who just laughed and remarked that she wasn't the least bit surprised to see one of my kids pushing a cart with a coconut dressed as a child. I'm still pondering that remark...
Anyway, it was all good until we went to check out. The line was fairly slow, and an older lady was behind us. Emily had taken the coconut-baby out of the cart and was cooing, "Mama wuvs you, Michelle... " The lady (we'll call her GOB - short for Grumpy Old
GOB: Child, what is that awful thing you have wrapped up in that blanket?
Me: (Interjecting to take the situation out of Emily's hands) That's her souvenir from vacation! She's so proud of it and she's having a ball!
GOB: (voice dripping with disdain and condemnation) Yes. But what is it?
Emily: (looking wounded)
Me: (Frantically using mommy code to try and get this old biddy to change her tone) It's a coconut! Isn't it sweet the way she's decorated it with a face and dressed it in one of her shirts?! I love how she uses her imagination.
GOB: (Silence. Shakes her head. Passes judgement) Maybe you should consider buying her a baby doll so that she doesn't have to drag that rotten thing around.
At this point our items had been bagged and the cashier was awaiting my attention. When I was finished the girls had the cart loaded and were heading deliberately towards the door. I shot my best "you suck" look over my shoulder and followed them out.
I spent the next several hours replaying the scenario as it would have happened in the world according to me -- where I would have had witty, cutting retorts to slap GOB into place and embarrass her for having pitiful behavior. I hate that I stood there and threw subtle hints rather than telling her to lay off my kid. I feel as though I set a horrible example. I didn't exactly stand up for Emily.
I was brought up to be kind and considerate, but what do you do when the other person isn't playing by the same rules? I don't really want to engage the person in some sort of verbal sparring match because I'm not quick with cutting remarks. I'd get torn to shreds and I don't want my kids to see that either. I've been sitting on this post because I'm embarrassed. And I hate the embarrassment with every fiber of my being. I hate that I can't figure out how to shut-down stupid people and show my children by example how to stand up for themselves in a strong, yet civil way. If given a choice I'll let myself be walked over like a doormat rather than make a stink and I want my girls to be stronger than that.
What should I do? And I realize I could leave the coconut at home. This isn't really about the coconut. I understand that we kind of opened ourselves up for this but occasionally you get this sort of thing and you aren't acting like a Looney Tune. How do you guys handle it? Take the high road? Tell 'em where to get off? Ignore it?