Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What do you do or say?

I'm disturbed by something that happened in the grocery store today. I don't know if I'm more disturbed by what happened or by my response.

One of my major flaws is that I don't always react in the moment. Rather, I let it pass and then afterwards I think of these fabulous scenarios replayed in my head where I say and do the perfect thing for that particular situation - but the situation can never be a do-over and what's done is done.

It frustrates me that I can't act or think right in the moment.

So, I'm sure this has happened to many a mother before and I'm wondering what the correct response would have been.

Unloading the cart in the checkout line, I hear London saying "that lady has a baby in her tummy - she has a fat tummy" over and over again. I tell her to stop before they get too close (there were two very overweight women together), but too late: they've heard. Embarrassed by my child, I just say sorry quickly and focus on the groceries I'm transferring to the conveyor belt and hope that London listens to me and doesn't talk anymore.

Then I hear the lady say to London -- a three-year old mind you -- "Stop being rude" in a not so polite voice.

Silenced, London won't even respond to the friendly cashier who tries to talk to her. Then, she asks me why the lady talked to her. I just want to get out of there.

So, now that I'm home I'm disturbed that someone would talk to a child that way. I'm disturbed that I didn't stand up for my child. I know it was a rude thing to say, but London was just excited thinking the lady had a baby in her tummy. I know she wasn't saying it maliciously because she tells me my tummy's getting fat with the baby all the time and I try to correct her, but it hasn't sunk in yet apparently. I think they've overhead Nate complain about his stomach getting fat lately and have caught on to the word and don't quite get that it's a derogatory word.

Sooooo. . . what would you have done?

THE DO-OVER (that will not happen)

I politely stop what I'm doing, look at the lady and apologize explaining that she's only 3 and doesn't understand since I'm pregnant and we've been talking about my stomach growing bigger.

Or is that too much? I do feel bad for the woman and had a good talk with London as I buckled her into her car seat and hopefully that will never happen again, but I still think she was a little harsh with a toddler.


Megan said...

Um yeah, that's a little awkward. I think I'd try to start getting the fat word out of their vocabulary. I had an instant, not nearly as embarassing as that, but Talin once told me that one of my twelve year old sunday school students is very fat. I was horrified and informed him that we never call anyone fat. Yet, what kind of an example do I set each day when I'm ultra critical of myself? I'm just really lucky he waited until after she got out of our car to inform me of this, so that tells me that he already knew it was a derogatory thing to say. Anyway, it's weird and I'm sure these situations happen a lot, but I would let her know too that it's not acceptable for that lady to have talked so rudely to her in response as well.

Anonymous said...

I would have spun around with cat-like reflexes and Karate chopped the "rude fat lady" for yelling at my three year old! Then, I would have composed myself and proceeded through checkout with a smile. Later, I would have bought London a slurpie for being so brutely honest. Kids, you gotta love them... they never lie.


Mandy said...

what a bad situation. I am sure it was hard for that lady to hear that her tummy was fat, but she has to understand that it was a 3 year old saying it and not a five or six year old. I am like you in that I rarely react in the moment. Then I analyze it over and over until I've made peace with it, which can take a long time.

elizabeth said...

That is tough. I think i like your do-over scenario. But knowing the way that lady talked to London, she probably wouldn't be worth the explanation and it probably wouldn't have appeased her. Some people just don't know how to act or respond around children.

Kelly said...

Ugh, I'm sorry! I know how you feel because I'm exactly the same way -- nonconfrontational at the moment, and then I regret it and think of something I should have said/done. I do think this lady was the one being rude, especially since you had already apologized.