I love people-watching. In fact, I have written about this before. No, I'm not a creepy, stare-at-others, make folks uncomfortable kind of person. I think it may have started when I was a little kid and would watch and listen to what was going on around me. If I was in the presence of adults, they would not want to have my input, but if I sat quietly and observed, I knew more of what was going on than I think they realized. It actually became part of my survival skills - if I observed others' behavior, including both successes and mistakes, I could learn through their trial and error. It's sometimes a good thing to be the youngest of your generation. If you are observant and can learn from the behaviors of your older cousins and siblings, you can save yourself a good deal of time and trouble.
As I grew older, I continued to enjoy my fleeting glimpses of lives passing by and happening around me. You can take a break from shopping at a mall, for example, and see little bits of life's dramas floating by like leaves in a stream. The girls who are begging mom to please, please, please let them get their ears pierced or buy some makeup. Dads struggling with toddlers and strollers, trying to get a gift for a friend and control their young ones at the same time. Young couples in love, walking hand-in-hand. Old couples in love, walking hand-in-hand. People laughing, arguing, talking excitedly...you can see them all.
When I worked at a retail shop located in the Denver International Airport, the people-watching was terrific. In an airport, emotions often run higher than in places like malls or restaurants. You may be left wondering about people for days after you see them, especially if you also interact with them. Airports are more than just masses of travelers going from one place to another. They are full of people with different reasons to travel. The young man who looks nervous and excited may be welcoming a girlfriend home from a trip. Maybe the reason he keeps putting his hand in his jacket pocket is because there is an engagement ring sitting there in a plush velvet box. The woman in the suit with an anxious expression on her face may be trying not to miss the connection to a flight that will take her to a job interview and the possibility of a completely new life. The sorrowful looking couple with tears in their eyes may be going to a parent's funeral in another state. You never know what is going on in others' lives, do you?
One of the drawbacks of being an observer is that we sometimes see things that bother us. Yes, there's the cranky parents who are loudly impatient with their children. The couple who are clearly experiencing problems with their relationship. Faces full of worry and stress. But there's a whole world of other things happening in our view. We may see old friends reuniting, crying tears of joy and excitement. Someone at a corner table in the restaurant interviewing for a job there. A business lunch where you are trying to guess who is the boss and who is trying to make an impression on her.
The other day, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that might be described by the current term of "fast casual." You know, the kind where you place your order and get your own drink, picking up your freshly-prepared food and enjoying it from real plates, with real flatware. I had been to a doctor's appointment that required me to be fasting, and by the time we were finished with that and an errand on the way home, I was famished.
While we ate, I saw all sorts of things going on around me; business, friendship, family lunches, it ran the gamut. I noticed two women who seemed to be waiting an awfully long time, with no food on their table. Suddenly one woman's face lit up and she exclaimed, "Oh! Here's the baby!" Both women got up to greet the mother they had been waiting for. It made me a bit sad to see them fussing so much over the baby, with the big brother completely forgotten. I told Trent that moments like this made me understand how older siblings could hate younger ones. It was almost as if Big Brother was invisible.
The two ladies went to order lunch while mom set up a highchair for New Kid and started feeding Big Brother and NK their lunches. NK was old enough to drink from a sippy cup, probably a bit under six months of age. Mom handed him his cup, which contained water. Then she pulled out his lunch, a container that contained a couple of tablespoons of orange-ish baby food. I have to admit to being perplexed. A baby that size needs more than just water and a couple of spoonfuls of baby food for lunch, I thought. Is that baby on a diet? I know that doctors say that a fat baby will grow into a fat kid and then a fat adult, but where do we draw the line? Babies are supposed to have a bit of padding, and they need to ingest plenty of good food to grow their muscles, brain, and bones.
I couldn't help but think of my Gram and wonder what her opinion would be. First of all, she'd say that both mom and BB were so thin they needed to turn around twice to make a shadow. Then she'd say that a baby doesn't have to be fat, but in most cases, it also doesn't need to be on a diet. She would probably wonder as I did if the pendulum might be swinging too far in the direction of worrying about whether a baby was too fat. It made me remember when two of my coworkers had babies a few months apart. The first woman's baby was 7.5 pounds, the US average. The second was about 6.5 pounds. One day, the second mother told me that her baby was better than the other mother's "because it's skinnier." The baby was barely born and she was imposing standards of weight and size on him.
I tried to shake all of this off and remind myself that this was just a brief slice of the day. Mom may have already given NK a lunch before they left the house, and who am I to judge anyway? See what happens when you people-watch and try and guess what's going on in other people's lives? It can make you crazy for no reason. But then I laugh and think, all right, all right, the NK is okay. But I still think BB deserved more attention!