“Oh no. Hide,” I said as she approached us. I searched frantically for a place to duck behind.
“Why?” Tommy wondered, eyes wide in confusion. “Mommy, what are you doing?”
I was crouched down beside the bleachers. A guy was sitting about a foot away and he glanced over with raised eyebrows.
“Good evening,” I said in a businesslike tone as though it were perfectly normal to be hunched over beside some bleachers.
The guy quickly looked away- don’t engage the crazy lady! -and I thought I was in the clear.
“Do you have hair in your armpit?”
She was back. Scab Girl was back.
You know Scab Girl, right? She’s the girl that told me all about her scabs right before Tommy’s swim lessons one night.
The week after telling me about every little mark on her body, she started gabbing about her hair and should she cut it or should she grow it out or should she curl it or should she keep it straight?
The girl is seven, by the way.
And she likes to talk. Oh, does she like to talk. And because I have a sign that only Strange Kids can see, she always wants to talk to me even though there are a handful of other parents around. It’s like, sweetheart, see that woman over there? She looks like she’d totally love to hear a speech about your hair.
But she won’t talk to anyone else. It’s just me.
“Do you have hair in your armpit?” Scab Girl repeated. She didn’t even look surprised that I was obviously hiding. Maybe she’s used to people hiding from her.
“Um,” I said, straightening up. The guy who had eyed me before now appeared to be positively shocked. He gave me a look like, Now I see why you were trying to hide. But at the same time he looked intrigued on what my response would be.
“I….I do,” I admitted. I wasn’t sure if I should lie. It would seem silly to lie but some parents are so anal about everything. (“How DARE you tell my daughter that she’s going to get hair under her armpit! She’s too YOUNG to hear news like that!”)
“I found a hair under my armpit,” Scab Girl said solemnly.
What do you say to that?
In the end I said, “Oh. That’s nice,” and hoped that she’d go away. But she didn’t. No, she hung around and started describing the hair that she found. Her Mom, as always, continued to read, oblivious to her child’s inappropriate conversation.
“When I’m a few years older, I’ll shave,” Scab/Hair girl said.
It was at this moment when their swim teacher was ready for them.
“I think swim class is about to start,” I said, pointing. I tried not to sound relieved.
“Shaving will probably be scary but I think I’ll be okay,” Scab/Hair/Won’t Go The Freak Away/ Girl continued.
“Er, your teacher is ready for you,” I tried again.
“How old were you when you started shaving?” Scab/Hair/If She Doesn’t Go Away In Five Seconds, I’m Going To Wack Her With My Purse/ Girl asked.
Her Mom seemed to come to at this point when she heard the teacher calling for her daughter.
“Get in the pool!” she ordered.
“I’ve got to go,” Scab/Hair/Someone Needs To Teach Her About Inappropriate Vs Appropriate conversation topics/ Girl told me.
Then she was gone.
Praise the chocolate Gods.
I settled down on the bleachers and watched Tommy. The teacher had them swim on their backs and my kid went quickly across the pool.
“Whose kid is that?” I heard a Mom whisper to another Mom.
My ears immediately peaked. Who are you and why are you talking about my kid?
“I’m not sure. Hers, I think,” the other Mom whispered, nodding her chin towards me.
“He’s really fast,” the first Mom said. Then she realized I was staring and turned to me. “He’s really good. Fast. Are you putting him on the swim team?”
I shrugged. “If he wants to.”
“Put him on the swim team!” she urged.
“If he wants to,” I repeated. I don’t put my kids in anything they don’t want to do.
Tommy has always been fast while doing the backstroke. If he does decide he wants to be on the swim team, I imagine that’ll be the stroke he’s best at. He’s still awkward while trying to do the butterfly and will calmly tell the teacher, “Let’s not do this one. Let’s do the backstroke.”
He still has to take another class before he can be on the swim team. They want the kids at a certain level before they come on the team, you see. He’ll be in the swim lessons for a bit longer just so he can understand the different strokes, how to breathe properly while doing them, etc….
When the lessons were over, I practically ran out of the room with Tommy.
Scab Girl looked like she wanted to continue our conversation about her armpit hair and I’m sorry, I’m not sure if I could have handled anymore hair talk.
There is only so much I can take.