Tuesday, March 6, 2018

British and the Beast

Since we've moved to Florida, I have taken my kids to Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees every year over Thanksgiving break. This year I brought Lexi, Clay, Brooklyn, and her friend, Phoenix. We parked and made our way over to the trail that runs along the springs. As I concentrated on the manatees, camera poised, ready to capture them as they emerged from the water for a breath, I listened to the kids talk and laugh and as they leaned over the railing, searching for manatees, alligators, turtles, fish, or any other animal they could find. An enormous catfish swam by and Lexi joked, "Oh no, we've been catfished." The other kids giggled.

Not taking my eyes from the camera's viewfinder, I half-listened to a conversation from an old man standing next to the kids. The man hissed in a distinctly British accent, "Shut your clamper! You'll scare the beast!" The kids turned away from the man and started giggling because seriously, clamper? beast? 

To their giggling, he angrily told them, "If you think it's funny, go wait in your car!"

At this point, I realized he was addressing my kids so I lowered my camera and turned toward him, asking, "Excuse me?" Was he really reprimanding them? For what? Talking??? I mean, I know my kids can act like idiots at times, and believe me, if they'd been misbehaving, I'd have been the first person to give them the knock-it-off look that all moms learn while their baby is still in the womb.

But they weren't acting up. Sure, the kids had been talking and giggling, but they were doing it quietly. They weren't saying anything bad. They weren't being obnoxious or mean. They weren't using foul language. They weren't loud. And hello? We were outside! At a park, not a theater! What on earth was his problem?

I'd like to say I had the perfect retort, but unfortunately I don't come up with great responses until several minutes (an hour, a day) later. 

Actually, maybe it's fortuitous that the snappy comebacks don't always roll off my tongue because when they do, they're generally sarcastic, and I get myself in trouble that way.

So, as I was saying, I'd like to report that I had the perfect response, but honestly I was rendered speechless. I couldn't fully grasp what was going on and why he was so angry. Instead of responding to him at all, I addressed the kids and said, "You're fine. You weren't doing anything wrong." Then we moved to another location along the springs.

But to this day, when the kids are joking around, they tell each other to, "Shut your clamper!" then they bust out giggling. During cheer practice this week, when the coach told the girls to shut up, both Brooklyn and Phoenix turned to me and mouthed, "Shut your clamper!" I really think it's going to catch on. By this time next year, everyone will be saying, "Shut your clamper!"


Handyman said...

Yes I agree you are a great mother and grandmother. You are correct that Florida Health system is poor. Please take Lexi somewhere good like North of Florida.

Cindy said...

I've never heard that expression before! That's too bad that he was so grumpy but awesome that you now have a family expression that will bring smiles for years!

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