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Rant #325
(published April 12, 2007)
Boy in Cart
by Katharine Coldiron
Today I saw a harried, overweight mother in Target, in the children's shoes aisle. Her son was in the child-shelf of her shopping cart, and her daughter was meandering around the cart while her mother attempted to herd her where she was clearly not interested in going. "Can I sing a song too?" asked the boy as I passed. "Yes, you can sing a song," the mother replied. Her tone was annoyed, but it was almost bored, too, as if she was as sick of being hassled by these kids as we, all the busied, childless shoppers, were sick at the sight of it. The boy began to sing his ABC's, in a low, singsong voice, almost murmuring, like a child distracted by coloring or playing with an interlocking toy. "Sing a song with your brother," the mother said contemptuously to her daughter, still trying to corral the girl with a meaty hand encircling her tiny upper arm. The daughter replied with a baby-talk brrrr-mumble. I was on my way down the cavernous corridor by now, but the boy's song followed me, the tune so familiar that I hardly had to listen to hear him. His quiet voice echoed behind me, as if trying to follow behind and catch me at the ankle: listen, listen, now I know my ABC's. Tell me what you think of me.

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