Oh man, such an interesting conversation over the weekend...
We were browsing in Barnes & Noble. We'd been walking around various parts of Santa Barbara for a while, so we decided to put His Highness on the baby leash so he could get out of the stroller & walk around some.
So we're standing there, His Highness & the Cat Daddy on one side of the aisle, myself on the other, and Random Guy came up and commenced to staring me down. Severely.
Now something to note is that I kept a light, yet firm tone throughout the exchange. So much so that I was quite proud of myself. The other thing to note is that Random Guy was in a wheelchair. This is important only because, wanting to be compassionate but not patronizing, I wondered if I was in the way. So I gave an acknowledgement and somehow conveyed "Is there something I can help you with," which I'm not sure if I implied or said outright. Either way, I made eye contact, and Random Guy knew he had my attention.
Random Guy: "What are you doing to your kid?"
Myself: "I'm sorry?"
Random Guy: [crickets]
Me: "Oh, you mean the leash?" (No PC terms for us. May as well call a leash a leash.)
RG: "Yeah what do you think you're doing?"
Me: "Well, he doesn't like to stay cooped up in the stroller all the time, so this lets him walk around without getting away from us." (Meanwhile I'm thinking, oh my goodness, I really hope I'm not saying anything incredibly insensitive to this guy. But my concern was short-lived.)
RG: "Well, I really think he should be in the stroller."
Me: "Well, I appreciate your input," [I didn't really, but that's what came out on such short notice] "but he was in the stroller for a while, and now we're allowing him to run around & get some exercise, and a little later we'll probably put him back in the stroller." Followed by an authoritative nod, not unlike a mama bear.
RG: Another steely stare, and then "Alright."
Then I turned back to my book, because I'd had enough. Random Guy moved on and as he moved away I shot an exasperated look at the Cat Daddy. Not a mad-at-the-Cat-Daddy look, but a what's-up-with-this-Random-Guy look. He said I should've said something like "are you jealous." Yep, the Cat Daddy is a pillar of compassion and sensitivity to those different than himself...
PS--In a moment of clarity, the Cat Daddy did agree that we have no idea the perspective that Random Guy was protesting from, so better to keep our response along the lines of "this is what we've made the decision to do."