Yesterday, while sitting down to a nice lunch at CostCo, my listening ear failed me. It could be that I am still getting over an ear infection that I contracted two weeks ago. In fact, we'll place the blame for my predicament there. Aside from that, I must confess that when a stranger is pouring out their secrets to me, I don't always give them my best attention. Especially when I am wrangling three boys and my husband is in the three-hour food court line. In these instances, my mind goes into what I like to call "Auto Response", and I use one of four blanket answers for each thing that they say. We all do it, right? Right?
The situation happened like this: As I was pulling the third of my boys from the cart I heard a woman behind me say, "Wow. Three boys, huh?" (I get this a lot. At least once every time I go to the grocery store. Apparently, we are quite the circus sideshow...)
Me: "Yup. Three boys."
Stranger: "Ever gonna try for a girl?"
(This question is the one that bothers me. Oh, blast. I can try for a girl? Shoot. If I had known, maybe I would have applied myself more...)
Me: "Ah, well, the "trying" hasn't worked so well thus far, so I think I'm just happy with my boys."
Stranger: "Wow. I'm glad that since I could only have one, it's a girl." (Points across the table to her daughter.)
Me: "Well, I'm happy for you."
Stranger: "You see, I am a school teacher and I always thought that I wanted both a boy and a girl, but after teaching boys, I am so glad that I got a girl."
Me: "Yeah, boys are certainly a different breed."
Stranger: "Yeah. I have problems with infertility so I could only do one round of IVF."
(I have nothing else to blame for what next popped out of my mouth but that my irritation with the conversation had activated "Auto Response".)
Me: "Oh, fun!"
The instant it came out, I realized what I had just said and I wanted to reach out into the thin air and grab it back. It was like watching a terrible cartoon. I quickly rambled something about how beautiful her daughter was and hoped that she hadn't noticed the insensitive, yet unintentional, comment. Our conversation didn't last long beyond that point. I tried to snuff it out and turn away with the pretense of digging through my purse and focusing all my attention on putting lipgloss on Mason, lest my mouth get me further into trouble.
Ironically, the subject of a daughter came up later during lunch with Ethan. While eating his pizza, he declared that, "Mom, if you ever do get your own girl, you're gonna have to give it it's own room, 'cause we don't want it to bother us."
Maybe I'm better off...