There are times when I really wonder if manners are even being taught in our society. Then I think a little more deeply and wonder if perhaps the manners are there and are simply not offered if you belong to a certain group. I am often mistaken for a young teen Mom (or babysitter). I get the looks, the under-your-breath comments, and the feeling of being judged. I am not a teen Mom and I don't think I should have to explain that to you to get some basic human decency. Since when does having a child while you're young mean that you don't deserve pleasantries and basic manners?
While shopping with just one of my three children (I know, amazing!), an older gentleman decided he would back his shopping cart to a previous isle without bothering to look at all where he was going. He knocked into mine (with my 1-year-old child in it) and nearly knocked it over. I did the polite thing to do, which was to simply say, "I'm sorry," in the nicest of tones. What does he do? He gives me a disgusted look and continues to back up his cart. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I decided I should say something. I really had to, my insides were fuming. I mean, you almost knocked my cart over with a child in it and you can't muster up enough decency to say you're sorry back, when really I had nothing to apologize for. So I said loudly and firmly, "Just give me a disgusted look, because obviously I'm just some little girl. Don't bother apologizing for almost knocking my daughter over. What a jerk!" I received no response. Which is typical of jerks. Instead of taking the opportunity to say, "I'm sorry." Just go on your merry way thinking you're right not to even deal with an angry teenage mother.
I continue shopping and talking sweetly to my little girl. Within minutes I see stink-face coming around the corner. I give him a dirty look and shake my head (this is the courtesy I was offered, after all). Then he proceeds to walk past me. So I proceed to give him a piece of my mind to his face this time. I explain that an apology would have been an appropriate response to nearly knocking my daughter over, that I know I look young but this is my third child and that I didn't deserve a snarky look in the least. His only response is, "Ma'am did I say that?" NO, YOU DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. Did your mother teach you to treat women and children in such a way?
While checking out, I notice the man is in the lane next to me. I hear him and his wife looking for validation with the cashier. She insists that there is probably something else on my mind and I'm taking it out on them. The only thing on my mind is how awful it is that society allows you to treat what you perceive as a child-mother so rudely. So, I pop my head around the corner and say, "Nothing is on my mind except the fact that you were so rude to me and my daughter- the decent response would be an apology." I continue checking out and leave. I'm sure they continued talking and justifying their behavior after I left. But really, it comes down to this: Even if I was a teenage-mother, why can't you afford me the decency of an apology? Why is it okay for you to look at me with disgust and go on with your business?