Since I'm living my second life of parenting (my youngest child from my first life is 18), I like to think that I've heard and seen it all. All the comments, snide remarks, know-it-all statements and behind your back digs are nothing new to me or so I'd like to believe. I've gone to the picnics, soccer games, awards dinners, field trips, camp outs and museum sleepovers; I've coached the teams, argued with parents over playing time, driven the car pools, cleaned up vomit, gone through late nights of wondering where a child is and I've gotten drunk with the moms and dads who I liked and didn't like. But, never, in all of those instances, did anyone ever tell me that one of my four first-life children was "cornbread thick."
My one and only second-life child is now eight months old. About a month ago, her day care facility hosted an end-of-summer picnic at a local park district location that had one of those playground-type sprinklers for kids to run through and play under. There was tons of food, everyone was friendly and it was truly a festive occasion on one of the last hot days of summer.
As I walked my daughter around the park and took her close to, but not truly under the playground water apparatus, another parent stopped me. "Oh, that's Sasha isn't it?" "Yes it is," I responded. "My daughters always talk about how cute she is," the woman said. "Thanks very much. She seems to really enjoy the time she spends at day care." (I don't really know if that's true since she doesn't talk yet, but I had to think of something to say.)
Then the bombshell: "She is cute. And she is cornbread thick, isn't she?"
What? Is that a compliment? I asked myself. Or, was this woman insulting my child and deserved me to dump my can of Sun Drop lemon-lime soda on her head? (That Sun Drop is good stuff by the way.) My other children were all a bit chunky as babies, but isn't that the way they're supposed to be? What the hell does "cornbread thick" mean?
"She's a sturdy little thing," I babbled in response, not knowing what she was looking for. "I know that's right," the woman said and walked away. Huh?
As I stood in a shirt and tie, in 88 degree heat, holding a baby, at a park, I was perplexed to say the least. So, when I'm in need of answers to questions that I'm clearly not equipped to handle, I go to the source of all things - my wife. As she sat quietly in the shade sipping water and eating pineapple cobbler (yes, I said pineapple cobbler), I told her what the woman had said.
Is this baby cornbread thick?
"Really? She said that?" my wife responded. I wasn't making it up.
At that point, my wife took the baby out of my arms, sat her on her lap and said, to the baby, in the sing-song voice that only mothers can drift into, "Are you cornbread thick? Is that baby cornbread thick? Your father wants to know if you're cornbread thick?"
Not exactly the kind of culturally astute, visionary response I was looking for. So, I was left to walk away, on my own, to figure this one out. The woman didn't say Sasha was fat, chunky or portly. That's a positive. And, I like cornbread, if it's not too crumbly of course.
The bottom line is that someone has deemed my child to be cornbread thick and there's not a whole lot I can do about it. Based on the reactions that I've gotten, it doesn't seem to be a bad thing. I just hope that as she gets older and people keep making their comments, which they'll do, that I can at least respond reasonably and with some sense of awareness. This one took me by surprise, but it certainly made me realize that, no, I haven't seen or heard it all by any means. In fact, I looked in the mirror this morning and think I might be getting a little cornbread thick myself.
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