Whether you have kids or have found yourself around them, you know the stare. They can’t seem to help themselves as they stare intently at a stranger. Sometimes it’s unblinking without the hint of a smile. Sometimes there are a few blinks and a partly open mouth. And, no matter what you do, they won’t turn away, won’t smile, won’t say a word. They just stare.
My kids don’t do this often, but it’s still a bizarre experience.
But it’s not just kids who have mastered this stare. Or perhaps adults have simply remembered how to do the stare. That’s right. Adults. People older than my kids and people older than me.
Maybe it’s because we live in the city. Maybe it’s because I look more like a big sister pushing around her two much younger siblings. Maybe it’s because some people think I must have been a teen mom. I don’t know why, but I think adults doing the stare are much creepier than kids doing it.
My son’s preschool is close by, so I walk my kids over when the weather permits. Considering we live in Los Angeles where a car is almost as essential as breathing, we don’t actually encounter too many people. There are the occasional joggers and frequent dog walkers, but that’s about it. I don’t mind them; they’re too busy to notice me.
But sometimes there will be an older man or woman or couple walking by. If they’re not alone, they’re busy chatting to each other until we come close to crossing paths. Then they go silent and the stare starts.
I used to watch them out of the corner of my eye. They would stare until they passed me by. It didn’t take long for me to just keep my eyes forward and my feet moving. It’s the city; I’m not going to make eye contact or flash a smile. You never know when it might trigger someone, as strange as that might sound. Though there is a more than good chance they’ll just ignore it and continue that stare.
It’s not just kids who stare, but I’ll take one of them over a staring adult any day. It’s not cute.
And, no, I’m not going to give a pretty smile and wave like adults do to my kids when they stare.