Eldest son went to the epicerie (bodega/corner store) the other night and when he got back I noticed his shirt was inside out. He often does this when he goes to pray and has some kind of image (person or animal) on his shirt. This one has different sets of eyes that glow in the dark, so turning it inside is kind of useless—but anyway—I asked him if he wore it like that to the store. “Yeah. And a couple of people said something.” “What did they say” I ask. “I dunno. I don’t understand what they are saying. It wasn’t English.” “Then how do you know they said something about your shirt?” “One lady pointed to it and then the epicerie guy pointed to the seams on his own shirt.”
Me, The SIL and The Hub had a good laugh about folks concern for Our Boy and then SIL told me this “Moroccan folktale” that I have since seen elsewhere online as various kinds of a “Middle Eastern folktale”-
An old man decides to take his donkey to the souk and sell it. The journey is not too far and they start off early in the day when it is still cool. After walking just a short distance they come across some people who tell the old man that he should make use of his donkey and ride it. So, the old man climbs up on the donkey and rides along a little further with the boy keeping pace at his side.
Just a little ways down the road they happen on another group of people. These people scold the old man for selfishly riding the donkey and making the young boy struggle to keep up alongside! So, the old man gets off the donkey and puts the little boy up on the blanketed saddle.
As they are getting closer to the market they come upon a third group and this group feels the donkey is too tired to even carry the child and again the old man is scolded for his thoughtlessness. Finally, coming into the marketplace, all the people turn to stare at the old man who is carrying a donkey across his shoulders with a small boy following sheepishly behind him. No one says a word to either of them.
~ ~ ~
That is exactly how I felt carrying my eldest son in a baby sling in Brooklyn. It seemed as if crossing the imaginary border into every new neighborhood I would be met by some sagely mother from another culture or era who would either praise me or chastise me for carry my baby like that!
So, my sil and I kidded my son that next time he goes to the epicerie he should wear his shorts on top and top on bottom. This wouldn’t be too hard since he already does sometimes pull a sweater onto his waist—as in the neckhole around his waist!—also for prayer, to cover up. And now, of course, we have to pretty much beg him not to go out like that—-yes, he has figured out a way to wear shorts as a top.