The thing about having an adorable little poppet with golden ringlets, is that people love adorable little poppets with golden ringlets. I don’t often leave the house with Arty without being stopped and told how cute he is, and “oh, those curls!”
People are right to be delighted by this child. He is delightful.
Most people are happy to exclaim and move on, but from time to time I come across someone – usually older, of grandparental age – who wants to chat.
That happened this morning as we walked home from the post office. An older man with a thick accent (I won’t try to place it beyond a handwavey “European”) wandered out of his front garden to say hello.
He patted Arty on the head (the elderly find it particularly hard to resist actually touching the ringlets), sending the wee boy burrowing into my thigh to hide his face.
“He’s a bit shy,” I said, wanting to assert Arty’s right to personal space, without offending the man, then got down on my haunches to cuddle Arty, who proceeded to hide his face in the curve of my neck.
“Is beautiful day today.”
“Yes, isn’t it? Perfect for a nice walk.”
“You go to the school? He go to school?”
“No, he’s just three. He hasn’t started school yet. He goes to kinder though, don’t you Arty?”
At this, Arty unwrapped his arms from around my neck and started driving his toy truck over my shoulder and down my back, making soft brooming noises. I stayed crouched down at his level, and the man stood over us, not with menace, but in a way men often do unthinkingly with women and children. A way that we… feel.
“You live here?” the man continued, gesturing widely at the general area.
“Yes, a few blocks away.”
“You buy your house?”
“It cost a looooot of money. Your husband work?”
“Oh, I’m not married.”
The man’s eyebrows shot up at this, and his mouth fell open. He gestured emphatically at Arty, but seemed unable to find the words to ask me how I had managed to bear a child out of wedlock and freely admit it to a stranger in the street.
I just smiled.
“No my partner is a woman. We’d love to get married, but we can’t.” Calmly. Matter-of-factly.
The man found words.
“Who… who his father?”
“He doesn’t have a father, he has two mothers, don’t you Arty?”
“Yep!” my glorious boy declared without skipping a beat, then reiterated loudly, “I got TWO mummies!”
The man paused and considered Arty for a few moments, golden ringletted, and cheerfully brooming his truck down my arm. He’d run out of words again, so I scooped that picture of happy boyhood up, and stood, holding him confidently on my hip. I was now a full head taller than the man, and as I looked down at him, I smiled kindly.
“It really is a lovely day. Enjoy!”