We don’t go to the Farmer’s Market often enough. It is on Saturdays from 7am to noon, and Wednesdays from 3-6pm. Wednesdays never work out, since my daughter comes home from school at nearly four, and the last thing she wants to do is go shopping. Her priority after school is to kick off her shoes, eat a snack, tell me about her day, and watch a little Netflix or do some art. To go to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday only occurs to me when it is nearly noon!
But this weekend, a whole gaggle of relatives were in town, and my mother-in-law said they were all going to go to the Farmer’s Market– so we went along too. We got there before they did (because they were wrangling a bunch of small children and taking two separate cars) so my daughter and I had already perused the Market twice, bought some kale, and even saw her friend from school. That was serendipitous, because our daughters have been wanting playdates, but it so happens that both of us mommalas are rather overprotective and needed to meet the other mom first. After talking to each other for a bit, I think we were both more at ease. It seems as though some moms are okay with setting up playdates at the drop of a hat (and sometimes even leaving their child at a stranger’s house! For hours! With strangers!) but I’m too old-fashioned for that, and this other mom is, too. I like meeting other protective parents.
It’s a fine line, this whole playdate business. I am lucky that I feel 100% comfortable when my child is with my husband’s family and a few trusted friends who are a sort of chosen family– yet, I am not so sheltered that I assume that every child’s family is the same. Families have problems and funny uncles. I can’t just drop her off into some unknown families inner workings and assume that she will come out unscathed.
On the other hand, you can’t see everyone as harmful. Some amount of trust has to be placed in the hands of near-strangers, and we do it all the time, don’t we? We don’t really know our children’s teachers, or any of the myriad of people our kids come into contact with each day. At some level, we have to let go and trust that if something is wrong, our children will know enough to pipe up and tell us.
Just yesterday, I was getting some cash for the Farmer’s Market out of the ATM, and for the first time, I left my daughter in the car to wait. She’s eight, and she said she’d rather wait and play her math game. On my return, I unlocked the trunk and got some market bags out. When I got back into the car, my daughter said she thought someone was trying to steal the car! She was half teasing, but I think the unexpected noise had startled her genuinely at first. This opened up a conversation about what to do if someone really had started to steal the car. What would she have done? And then I turned it to, what would you do if we got separated in a crowded place and someone was bothering her?
Her instincts about what to do and how to act were spot on (Thank God!) but she couldn’t fathom why anyone who wasn’t her archnemesis, a third grader named Henry, would want to bother her in the first place. Especially a grown up! I stressed that it is sometimes difficult to tell just by appearances which grownups are okay, and which are not, and ended up using a metaphor. I reminded her that she doesn’t want to be one of the gazelles that are separate from the pack, because those are the ones that get picked off and eaten by lions. She watches a lot of animal documentaries! She got it.
But back to the Farmer’s Market! My daughter and I both cannot deny our undying love for tamales, so we got some and had an early lunch while waiting for our family to arrive. The patio chairs and tables were all full, and we were laden with tamales and drinks, napkins and straws, so we found a sunny spot behind the tamale booth and sat down on the grass. She didn’t mind– we both prefer grass to patio furniture and noise anyway. As I took her picture, she was saying, “Tamales rule!!!”