She’d Be Swelling With Pride

, , , , | Healthy | March 9, 2021

I’m at the hospital.

Little Boy: “Why aren’t you wearing a mask?”

Me: “Oh, hi, kid. The masks don’t fit me right now. Can you go back to your mum? I can’t talk well right now.”

Little Boy: “Mummy says that everyone has to wear a mask.”

Me: “Normally she’d be right, but the doctor has given me special permission just this once.”

Little Boy: “But Mummy says that people who don’t wear masks are selfish b*****ds.”

Me: “Go back to your mummy and I’m sure she’ll explain it. I can’t fit into the masks right now.”

Little Boy: “Why not?”

Me: “Because my face is all swollen up, see?”

Little Boy: “Isn’t that what you normally look like?”

Me: “No?”

Little Boy: “Oh, all right, then.”

In the mother’s defence, the woman he wandered back to was trying to comfort a little girl with a lot of blood on her face. I think she was a bit preoccupied to realise what had happened.

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Maybe She’s A Wizard And This Is Her First Phone Call?

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 4, 2021

I was a very shy, overly sensitive child and it didn’t take much to upset me. I always tried very hard to be polite to adults because I didn’t like people being angry with me.

I was probably about seven or eight. It was in the evening, we were at home, and the phone rang. My father asked me to answer it, figuring it was probably one of our family members.

I picked up the receiver and said hello, only to hear a woman screaming.


I immediately teared up because, again, I was a wimpy kid, and because this strange adult was yelling at me and I had no idea why. When I tried to explain that all I’d done was answer, she began to scream louder. I was pretty upset by this point and handed the phone to my father, sobbing that I didn’t know what was wrong.

My father was very angry himself and snapped into the phone



My father immediately hung up on her and calmed me down, explaining that in situations like that, I had every right to be “rude” and hang up anyone, even an adult, who was behaving like that.

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I Once Had A Spongebob Alarm Clock; It’s Dead Now

, , , , | Related | February 20, 2021

My two-year-old son is very enamored of a popular British children’s show, but it’s not well-known in Asia. I end up ordering him several toys via the UK branch of an Internet retailer, including one noise-making playset that is far too loud for our small apartment. After about an hour and a half of him playing with it nonstop, my partner comes out of the office where he was working, which is separated from the living room by only one door.

Partner: “Is there anything you’d like to say to me?”

Me: “I’m sorry! I didn’t know it’d be that loud!”

Partner: “Did you get that online?”

Me: “Yeah, from Amazon UK.”

Partner: “Have you figured out why they don’t sell that toy in Japan yet?!”

I ended up putting some packing tape over the speaker which reduced the noise to a much more bearable level.

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Of Chemically Unsound Mind, Part 2

, , , , , | Right | February 14, 2021

My bookstore has a waist-high wooden counter to hold the registers up, and in the front of it, little cubby holes for various impulse buys. There are panes of glass over that so, should a customer look straight down, they can see those little $5-or-less baubles and maybe make a last-second addition.

I loathe those panes of glass. They are impossible to keep clean. In an hour, the things will have accrued coffee rings, greasy fingerprints, and various other little germy smudges. We have to put in a lot of effort to keep these clean lest the next customer gets coffee on their nice, clean, brand-new books.

Enter a mom and her kid.

The kid is initially standing patiently and quietly by Mommy’s side. But he is JUST tall enough that his lips can wrap around the beveled edges of the glass and suck on it like a pacifier. Maybe the texture or shape is appealing to his mouth… or maybe Mommy should have weaned him a bit earlier than the tender age of ten.

Me: “Oh, sweetie, please don’t put your mouth on that. We clean it with Windex and Clorox. You don’t want to swallow that stuff. It’ll make you sick to your tummy.”

The child stares me straight in the eyes and continues to suck on that tasty, tasty glass pacifier provided especially for him. Mommy is chattering obliviously on her phone, still trying to pile more books in front of me, but she seems to be unaware that I am not ringing AND that I am talking to her son.

Me: “Kiddo, please don’t suck on that!”

I shoo him backward, but the kid is clearly determined. He backs up two steps, and as soon as I ring the first book, he comes right back and latches onto that thing like a nursing baby. 

I stop the transaction in its tracks, move the books, and wipe off the glass with the dripping Clorox wipe that’s wafting enough chemical fumes to make my eyes burn. The smell makes him beat a hasty three-foot retreat from the counter.

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but this glass isn’t sanitary. I can’t, in good conscience, let your child put his mouth on this any longer.”

The woman stops her conversation as her eyes start to burn from the cloud of Clorox fumes. 

Mom: “Do you have to do that now?!”

Me: *Bluntly* “Yes. For the third time, this glass is covered in chemicals, and your child was putting his mouth on it. I now have to clean the glass again because he slobbered on it.”

She wags a finger in a limp-handed way.

Mom: “[Child]! Don’t put your mouth on things!”

I made the glass surface gleam wetly with a thick layer of corrosive liquid. Then, I paper toweled it dry, of course; after all, there was a line, and we could not wait for the glass to dry on its own. Now, we had a cloud of Clorox fumes at the registers.

Worth it, in my opinion, as this was finally enough. I wonder if those “no chew” sprays for puppies would work on a kid.

Of Chemically Unsound Mind

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You Are NOT Cleared For Landing!

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 11, 2021

Babies on aeroplanes tend to have ear pain during changes in altitude due to pressure changes. Pediatricians suggest feeding them during takeoff and landing as swallowing equalizes the pressure in their ears and stops the pain. I should also note that my son is exclusively breastfed which, while not particularly unusual, is still not the norm in the time when this story takes place.

In the 1990s, I have to fly long distance with my three-month-old son. He dealt with the first long flight with no problem but fussed on takeoff and landing. Our connecting flight is only thirty-five minutes long, so pretty much the entire flight would be changing altitude. I decide to let him nurse for the whole flight to save him any discomfort. 

We get in our seat, with him on my lap with a “baby belt,” and an elderly Southern gentleman sat next to me. As we taxi to the runway, I discreetly lift my shirt and settle my son to feed. We get in the air, and the man strikes up a typical traveler’s conversation about where we are going, luggage problems, our families, etc. It is all fine until we start to descend.

Man: “I hate this; it always makes my ears pop. Do yours?”

Me: “Yes, I have to keep swallowing. It’s not very nice.”

Man: “Your baby is so good; he’s slept through everything.”

Me: “Mmm.”

The man reaches over and gently strokes my son’s head with one finger.

Man: “He reminds me of [His Great-Grandson] with all that hair. He’s precious.”

Me: “Uh, yes…”

I shift my arm to block his hand.

Man: “I can’t believe his ears don’t hurt. I’d have thought it would wake him up.”

Me: “He’s feeding. It helps stop the pain.”

Man: “Oh, do you need to feed him? I can hold him while you get his bottle if you like.”

He reaches over and cups his hand round my son’s head like you would if you were about to hold a baby.

Me: “I am feeding him. Right now.”

Man: “Uh?”

His hand is literally one inch from my nipple.

Me: “I’m breastfeeding him. Right now.”

The poor man snatched his hand back so fast! He was blushing bright red, staring anywhere except at me, and stammering apologies. He was SO embarrassed. I did feel kind of bad, but I thought it was pretty obvious, especially as I’d switched my son from one breast to the other partway through the flight — while discussing flight delays with the man!

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