Sometimes, I make comments about society, politics, religion, or something else of great importance. Sometimes, I whine when I make a blog post. On occasion, I also brag. Then, there are rare occasions when I just tell a story. Today, it’s one of those stories.
My son, Josh, was three the year we lived in Minnesota. We were a long ways from the place he had called home from the time he had been born. It was just him, his big sister, and I. I had just moved into a small town, and we’d hired a local woman to babysit him during the day. Unbeknownst to me, the woman we’d hired was also the town gossip, and she loved getting “the juicy stuff” on anyone. Since I was a rarity in town as a single parent, I was being scrutinized by every woman in town from twenty to ninety, and suspected of having designs on their husbands. While it was somewhat amusing, there were days when the entire scrutinizing thing simply became annoying. I wasn’t husband hunting, and had no designs on any of them.
He’d been staying with her during the day for a couple of months, after we’d faced everything from me having an unexpected emergency hospital stay to him having pneumonia, and we’d gotten so we were somewhat comfortable with the whole arrangement. One day, I came to pick him up, and he was busy watching Power Rangers, his favorite thing in the world at that moment (besides Barney, he liked Barney too.)
The woman says to me in a somewhat sly tone of voice, “So, who’s Craw Daddy?”
Now me being who I am, of course I would not have considered an ulterior motive to the question, so I assumed it was some sort of joke, so I responded that I didn’t know, so who was Craw Daddy?
Her tone achieved new heights of pompous attitude as she informed me, “Well Joshua said his daddy was Craw Daddy…”
I started laughing. I knew my son, and I now knew what she had been doing. She had been pumping a three year old for information that she had not dared come straight out and ask me in person. Three year olds are not the best source of information, by the way, and are inclined to tell you anything that satisfies you so they can get back to the important stuff like worms and frogs and Power Rangers.
So, I looked at Josh and asked him, “Joshua, where does craw daddy live?”
“Under da waddah,” he said with his rather sloppy speech pattern at the time.
The babysitter’s face fell, she knew she had been had, and I wasn’t going to give up any information that wasn’t necessary…and neither were my kids. It wasn’t that we were hiding anything, it was simply that with all of the barely masked interrogations we had been subjected to, we weren’t inclined to share anything we considered “private.” It’s funny, but I never did coach the kids to evade questions or refuse to answer them, they just instinctively felt that some things weren’t necessary to share because it wasn’t any one else’s business. Having come from an area that frowned on asking someone questions of a personal nature, we had a hard time adapting to living in an area that did an in depth interrogation as part of the whole, “Hi, nice to meet you” routine. I just found someone asking me, at thirtysomething, where my parents had been born, where they had gone to school, what they did for a living, and where did they live now…a bit too much like an interrogation. I didn’t regard my parents as relevant to my life right then, I was far from a kid myself, and had kids of my own. After a while, I did finally realize that it was not intended to be nosy and rude, which is how I was interpreting it, but rather to express interest in who I was.
Now the babysitter, on the other hand, was being rude and nosy entirely. Not even the most curious person in town would consider pumping a three year old as appropriate…except the town gossip, of course. I guess gossips don’t care how reliable their sources are, if they can find the dirt. I suspect she was imagining some big, burly biker sort, complete with bandanna and Harley Davidson motorcycle, nicknamed Craw Daddy and probably had him a drug dealer to boot. Gossips tend to have wild imaginations too–I always found the life that a gossip gave me to be much more entertaining and lively than the one I actually lived. How about you?