When I got into the elevator yesterday night with le Petit and my mother-in-law, a neighbor I vaguely recognized got in after us.
He looked at me, then looked at le Petit sitting in his stroller buried in his winter jacket and hat, and asked me pointedly, "Ca va, le Petit?"
I hesitated, debating whether to mention the case of chicken pox that le Petit was getting over this week, but decided my neighbor might not appreciate the mention of viral epidemics in such close quarters. So instead I turned the question over to le Petit, asking him in a high-pitched mommy voice, "Est-ce que ça va ? Dis 'bonjour!'" Le Petit's reflection in the elevator mirror smiled obligingly and babbled at us.
"Is he teething, maybe?" the neighbor asked with concern. I had trouble understanding him, so my mother-in-law replied instead.
"No, he already has all of his teeth!" she announced proudly, "Or at least, all the ones for his age."
"Well, then," the neighbor concluded skeptically, then changed the subject, "We just found out we're expecting a boy. In three months." I mentally sorted through the few neighbors I actually recognize, trying to remember if one was pregnant. Meanwhile, we reached the fifth floor. As my neighbor got out, I almost followed him before realizing we still had one floor to go.
Then it clicked. He was our downstairs neighbor. Directly downstairs from us, in fact, and well-placed to hear le Petit's recent early morning crying episodes that have on some occasions lasted well over an hour.
Whether it was the chicken pox, or the cold, or the 18-month developmental leap, or just that I jinxed myself by bragging about what a good sleeper he's become on my blog, we've had a few rough nights recently. We've also had some not-so-brilliant parenting moments at 3 a.m., when whatever we tried to do to calm him was wrong, when I sent in my husband when le Petit wanted me, or when I went in when I was too annoyed and frustrated to be of much help. Le Petit has always been able to cry loudly enough to create sound waves that can be palpably felt across the room -- a sensation I'd only experienced before with office fire alarms -- and as he has grown, so, incredibly, has the volume.
I can only imagine what my neighbor thinks. Not only does my child scream for hours in the middle of the night, but I am seemingly unphased by it. What a mother! Quelle mère indigne !
So, I lamely hope that he thinks that I was less than forthcoming because the belle-mère was with me. Or maybe in three months he'll have an inconsolable baby of his own and he'll understand.