The Art of Pretending

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Michigan chain of stores called Meijer (which may be most of you), it is the store that inspired Wal-Mart. And, in every store there is a mechanical horse named Sandy. Kids love Sandy. I rode Sandy as a child, and for only one penny, Teghan also has the opportunity for a one minute ride. It’s nice, really.

So today as we were purchasing our groceries, the cashier offered Teghan a penny to “ride the horsey.” Teghan just stared at her. Of course she did, she doesn’t talk. Sometimes I explain that, but often I just take over the conversation and pretend she is shy. It’s less awkward somehow. I get a lot of responses like, “Awww….she must be tired.”  

Well, maybe she is tired. I don’t think it’s necessary to go into too much detail about it with our cashier. It would only make the woman feel bad. She didn’t offend us, but she would probably apologize and act a bit embarrassed. People are funny that way. She had no way of knowing Teghan couldn’t talk- she is five years old and looks like she would talk.

The cashier may have thought it was strange that Teghan immediately licked that disgusting penny. I quickly pocketed it, since there were three kids waiting in line for Sandy- and let’s face it, I had ice cream in the cart, and Sandy is not that thrilling. Sometimes Teghan climbs off long before the minute is up anyway. The cart ride offers more speed, and it’s free.

Often when we are out in public I feel as if we are pretending. It’s a weird feeling. When Teghan is quietly in tow, she looks like any other typical kid. Sometimes there is a moment when our cover gets blown; and sometimes it only upsets me because I feel a little as if we have been caught in a lie. As if everyone just found out that we aren’t really one of them. It sounds silly, but it’s the gut reaction I have every time she ignores someone, makes a mess, screams for reasons that make no sense, puts something strange in her mouth…etc.

Those around us during the “reveal” only get to see a glimpse of our reality. There is no time or desire to fill in the blanks, so we find ourselves leaving situations knowing that people thought our child was rude or undisciplined (or kind of gross for eating that thing). Oh, well. But I don’t especially like the feeling. It makes us very selective about the activities we choose to participate in. It keeps us a little on edge. It makes us feel different from everyone else.

So anyway, Teghan didn’t ride Sandy today and I stole that penny. That is all.


4 thoughts on “The Art of Pretending

  1. Thought provoking… I often wonder when it is okay to “out” my daughter. I do it often, and sometimes I pretend. It’s a balancing act.

  2. Pretending feels so good sometimes. We spend so much time in the reality that the break, the ability to just blend in for a few minutes, is irresistible. <3

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