I’m sure as mom’s we’ve all had those moments in public where we’re not quite sure if we’re supposed to be amused or mortified. I think most mom’s know what I’m talking about right? That moment where your child says something at the exact moment that you’d rather he or she not? I always thought I’d be the parent who just smiled, shrugged my shoulders a bit sheepishly and then comment about “how silly and fun toddlers can be” and so far its worked out pretty good; until recently that is. On one occasion we were out and about and while we were waiting to board an elevator a woman that was about 6 feet tall and 500 pounds came to wait next to us. I said hello to the woman and she responded with a pleasant hello back before turning to Jacob and saying “hello little man” and instead of responding with a cute “hello” like he would normally do, Jacob responded with the following while turning to me:
“MOMMY THAT’S A REALLY REALLY BIG MAN!!!”
At that moment I felt a pain in the pit of my stomach that I had never felt before and I’m sure that my cheeks became flushed with embarrassment while I scanned my head for what I would say next. I’m a plus sized woman myself, not near 500 pounds, but overweight enough that I’ve had the occasional stare from a curious child or a comment like “why is that girl so big Mommy?” and I always vowed that I would teach my child to be different, to be accepting of people no matter their difference or size. I can’t recall exactly what my body language was saying at the time but I remember taking a deep breath, smiling at the lady, then turning to Jacob and saying “Jacob that LADY is pretty tall, but You forgot to say hello to the nice woman”. I’m pretty sure the woman smiled and gave me a nod of reassurance and in return I gave a sort of apologetic, I know how you feel kind of look as Jacob returned her hello with a resounding “hello lady, that’s a very beautiful shirt you’re wearing” – always curious and always charming are the two things I can count on Jacob for. Later, when we were away from the woman Jacob and I chatted about how great it was that everyone in the world was different and that’s what makes each and every person pretty special – I won’t lie, I didn’t know what to say and at that moment I felt apologetic for every mother I had silently criticized in the past for not being more fierce in their efforts to teach their child about respect for everyone.
For now, I still have the same plan I’ve always had about keeping open dialogue in our house about respect and loving everyone for their unique differences and abilities, hoping that it will rub off on the kids. I’m a huge advocate of respect, tolerance, social justice and hope that I can instill some of the same ideals in my children but for not I’ll hope that we can take it just one moment like the above at a time…I know there will be many many more opportunities for conversation, and many many more moments where my cheeks get pink and I quickly scan my brain hoping for an immediate appropriate response….
After all, just this past Sunday in Church it was MY TODDLER who loudly held something up in the air, during the most quiet and reverent moments of the service and proclaimed “PRINCESS PRESTO WITH SPELLING POWER!!!”
Darn that television program Super Why…..Darn you!!