My kids and I listen to music in the car. Sometimes we listen to music together. Other times I use the music to drown out the incessant questions and whining from the back seat. My kids are both under five years old so until recently I hadn’t given much thought to the content of the music…
Until I almost got myself tossed out of a preschool open gym session.
My baby was about 4 weeks old at the time, and this was the first time I’d been out of the house with both kids by myself. Needless to say, I was nervous and a little self-conscious.
We arrived at the gym and I begged and bribed my son to be on his best behavior. He smiled sweetly up at me from the back seat. “Okay, Mommy.” He said.
My eyes narrowed with suspicion. He’s up to something. I was sure he was plotting my demise, but the baby had started to stir so I crammed my phone in my back pocket without looking and jumped out of the car.
I should have known the whole event was cursed to blow up in my face from the moment I arrived, but I wasn’t reading the signs.
The first thing I did was set the infant carrier on the metal bleachers that were set up for parents whose kids weren’t surgically grafted to their legs. I remember looking at the width of the bleacher seat and wondering as I was unbuckling the baby, if it was wide enough to hold the car seat. Turns out, it wasn’t.
As I was saying hello to my friend and introducing myself to the entire mommy-group she was with, I saw out of the corner of my eye the car seat starting to fall. I lunged, mid sentence, and caught the carrier just before the point where it would have spilled my 4-week-old onto the floor. I do like to make an entrance.
Once the other parents released their collectively-held breath and went back to chatting amongst themselves, I made my way out to the play area with my boys. The worst had happened and I had recovered almost gracefully.
Half an hour later I was feeling pretty good. The baby was asleep in his Moby carrier and my son was playing happily with a dump truck. He’d been true to his word and hadn’t caused a single disruption. Which, unfortunately, is more than I can say for myself.
The play session was starting to wind down: the sounds of giggling and babbling were replaced by pleas and whines to stay longer. I was standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by parents trying to drag their children kicking and screaming away from the toys, when I heard a sound coming from my back pocket.
I have no idea why my phone decided to speak up at that moment. Maybe my butt was sweating from walking around carrying a baby for the last 45 minutes and caused a short. Maybe I scratched my butt. I don’t really remember. But naturally, I thought the phone was ringing and pulled it out of my pocket to see who was calling.
Except, it wasn’t a call.
Somehow, in all the excitement, my butt had opened the music app, switch from the playlist I’d been listening to in the car, to the uncensored Cee Lo Green album and started playing the song F#%& You.
The timing was impeccable. I pulled the phone out of my pocket, into the open air, right at the best part; “F#$% you and f$&# him too” crooned Cee Lo in his silky smooth voice.
My heart stopped.
The last “F#%&” was still hanging in the rafters above the vaulted the room. The parents froze, hands still gripping their children’s forearms to drag them home, and looked at me. It was suddenly completely silent apart from the sound of my iPhone spouting what felt like endless profanity.
My brain exploded. I fumbled awkwardly with my phone, but I couldn’t remember where the volume buttons were located. This is why I can’t have anything new, I scolded myself.
Cee Lo dropped the F-bomb again. And again.
I actually thought I was going to die. Or maybe that some high-strung, over-caffeinated, helicopter mom was going to tackle me right there. That might have been more comfortable.
I tried closing the music application, but that didn’t stop the song from playing. Eventually I gave up and switched tactics: if I couldn’t stop the music, I’d muffle it. I shoved the phone into the darkest, most sound smothering, place I could think of: my bra.
So I’m there, in the middle of the play gym, the entire room staring at me, my phone still singing quietly from under my boobs, and the baby wakes up. Because, of course he did: Cee Lo was now swearing directly in his ear.
My preschooler was looking at me like he was embarrassed to be seen with me, and my friend had gone missing. I can’t say that I blame her.
What else could I do? I sat down, right in the middle of it all, boobs swearing like sailors, baby screaming, toddler slowly backing away, and started nursing the baby. I figured public nudity and corruption of minors go together like peanut butter and jelly. My life was over, so I might as well make the baby happy. After all, he still had his dignity.
I looked around the room as I latched him on. No one was making eye contact, but I thought I saw a hint of pity on a couple of their stunned, uncomfortable faces. I’d passed straight through “judged” without stopping and landed squarely in “pathetic”. Suddenly, my screaming toddler didn’t seem so intimidating.
I can’t say that I’ve changed my behavior much since that fateful day. I still listen to songs with curse words in the car, only now I made an effort to strategically cough whenever I know someone is about to say something truly terrible. I sound like I have emphysema, but at least my preschooler has never told anyone to F-off. Lucky for me, my musical tastes are relatively tame or I’d be getting pretty light headed.