In which Jack was *almost* rude and I *almost* died
March 10, 2011
Our family of four recently went to brunch at a tiny restaurant a few blocks away, where the tables and chairs are all mismatched and a little bit too close to each other. It's a cute neighborhood place and the omelettes are to die for. Brunch is a fairly reliable meal with the kids and it was a nice little morning, all except for this lady sitting behind me. She was sort of loud and sort of crass, almost enough to make you want to turn around and say, "Hey lady, I do not want my three-year-old repeating that word you just said" but not really loud or crass enough. I don't think Phillip could hear her, for example, and we were pretty much ready to leave, so I just tried to ignore her. And while I tried to ignore her I, of course, made all sorts of possibly unkind assumptions about her, like how her hair might be cut or what she might be wearing. I could have turned around and LOOKED, but 1) it was more satisfying to make assumptions and 2) I was pointedly ignoring her.
Finally we paid the check and started getting the kids back in their coats. Jack was standing next to me, uncooperative as usual, and suddenly he announced, in a voice I was sure the entire dining room could hear, "That lady is wearing BLUE LIPSTICK!"
Oh dear God, I thought. "JACK," I hissed at him. "BE QUIET."
"But she IS!" he insisted. And then he was POINTING. I thought I might die.
He really wasn't that loud, like maybe the Crass Lady didn't even notice, but to me it sounded like a death knell, obliterating every other sound in the universe. I could have turned around then to apologize, but I was focused on not giving Jack the satisfaction of glimpsing the blue lipstick for myself. Instead I hissed again, meaner this time: "WE DO NOT POINT AT PEOPLE."
Jack looked at me like, "Dude, whatever" and I looked at him like, "Do not say 'blue lipstick' under penalty of no more dessert for the rest of your life" and YOU GUYS he SAID IT AGAIN. "Look at the blue lipstick, Mommy!"
That was when I threw my own coat on, grabbed a certain three-year-old's elbow, and steered him away from the table, intent on getting all of us out of there before the Crass Lady could respond. But before I left the restaurant I threw a look behind me, and you know what? Hanging on the wall above the Crass Lady's table was a work of modernish-art, depicting a woman with blue lips. And the Crass Lady looked halfway normal and wasn't even giving us a second glance.
I didn't know what to do then. Explain my mistake? Apologize to Jack for freaking out on him? Drive home my rule about not pointing, even if it's a picture? I was a mixture of relieved and foolish and totally annoyed, and I decided to just forget all about it.
But one day it's going to happen, right? One day my kid is going to say something dreadful, something like, "Mommy, that lady is FAT!" or "What happened to her hair?" or "What's wrong with his face?" And then I will die. I know it. We have the no pointing discussion every so often, but I'm not sure how to preemptively forbid rude comments, especially when I have no idea how to even explain the word "rude". Perhaps I will just have to get used to dying?
My parents are still emotionally scarred from the time my brother asked a family friend why she was so fat. Have your kids made an unintentional but die-worthy comment? How did you survive?