Greetings! Anna and I both took a hiatus from posting, but there’s no time like the new year to start fresh, right? Unlike Anna, I do embrace resolutions. I need all the inspiration I can get. Magazine articles. Upworthy posts. Mind-body-health newsletters. Bring it on.
I struggle with balancing self and world awareness with my parenting, so cues and reminders help. Authenticity comes up again and again, as does Self Love. In my life, that means being more outwardly honest when my inner critic is raging. And wouldn’t you know the Universe cooked up a little practice session for me this morning.
I had been walking a great distance in the cold with my three-year-old in the Ergo after dropping off my daughter at school. Little Guy was so patient, so I told him we’d walk to a nearby bakery and grab him a cookie. It is on a very diverse college campus, and I had always figured that the staff would be cued in to providing professional service. I scanned behind the counter for one particular worker I was hoping to avoid – oh wait, she’s here right in front of me. Before I can give my order, the other worker at the till says “Your daughter has such beautiful hair.” My son’s hair looks feminine at first glance, so I generally let a stranger’s first comment go. The worker I was trying to avoid adds, “Oh yes, such a pretty girl.” I politely correct them, but here it comes, I can feel it. The Avoidee says, “WHAT? He looks just like a girl! I can’t believe that’s not a girl!”
This is, in fact, the same thing that she has said the past four times I have come in with my son. Each time, I let her comment slide by and just moved on with my business. I understand that it’s difficult to remember details about the people that you serve in a customer service situation. The fourth conversation about my feminine-looking boy showed me that I might be having this conversation as long as I let it continue. And I expect that perhaps she didn’t understand that her repeated comments were inappropriate at all. It was time to find my voice.
“You say this about my son each time we come in, and it’s not polite.” The worker behind the till backed me up and said, “That’s not polite to say that”. Then she proceeded to look at my son and say, “How was your Christmas? Did Santa come visit you?”
Now I really had to let things slide here because I was feeling like I was going to have to provide a full-length lecture on cultural competence and sensitivity training for the workplace for these people. How does she know we celebrate Christmas? I understand that it can be difficult to drum up conversation with a three-year-old, but if either of them had let me get my order of one single cookie out then they could have asked him about that instead.
So much attention has been placed on how we talk to young girls in American society with an emphasis on all things regarding their appearance. I urge us all to take a step back even further and ask ourselves how we talk to all of our children. Are we talking to children directly or commenting about them to their parents? Did we notice whether this young child has shown signs of wanting to participate in a conversation? Are we really saying something to this child that he or she has an interest in or capacity to grasp, or are we just trying to involve ourselves in a conversation?