The following piece is quite a few months old and I just decided to give it an airing. Reading back through this piece, it makes me laugh. It was just one of those things that had to be written to take a load off...
So, I know it’s a little paranoid to presume to know what other people are thinking. Okay, okay! So it’s a whole lot paranoid. But imagine this. You’re out in public, minding your own business when a total stranger decides to not mind their own business. You cannot imagine what you have done to cause it but they are staring at you, eyes narrowed, and mouth pinched like my cat’s rear end. Without uttering a single word these disapproving strangers have already said so much, and still you don’t know what you did wrong.
I can think of one when my daughter t tripped over her feet shortly after getting off the travelator. An old woman passed us by, made a clucked her tongue and quickly looked away when I noticed her. What’s with the attitude lady? How did this put your day out? Why don’t you go away and lay an egg?
The other day my rage on this subject was piqued when in a shop, an elderly woman approached and informed me that my daughter’s hat had fallen over her eyes. I thanked her and leaned over the pram to adjust my baby’s hat. But the woman kept staring at me, eyes narrowed and disapproval practically shooting darts in my direction. What the heck! What was wrong with this woman? I matched her stare and she moved on into the next aisle but continued to keep a greasy eye on me. Seriously what was wrong with this woman? What faux pas could I have possibly committed to cause such disapproval from a total stranger in under a few seconds?
I didn’t need extra sensory perception to know this woman was judging me. But it was for a reason that I could never fathom. Did I unwittingly earn the bad parent award because my daughter’s hat had slipped down? Perhaps she was making the presumption that I was a teenage mum? And believe me people have made this presumption before. On a good day, when the light is just right and I have eaten all my vegies and gotten a good night’s sleep I can look ten years younger than my actual age. But after all, whether I am young or old whose business it is for anyone to try and make me uncomfortable.
What if I went around presuming that every overly critical person was a bitter old hag who hung around shops just waiting for some harmless sap [like me] to prey on. And come night time they pull out their broom sticks and go riding around, cackling like the evil witches they are. Do you see what I just did? I just made a ridiculous judgement and a stereotype no less. Though I am quite convinced I am on the mark with the whole broom stick thing.
The truth of the matter is that it is quite easy to judge other people, particularly parents. Quite often we do it without even realising we are doing it. Sure, we don’t mean to be malicious. At least I don’t think I do. Yet how many times have we gone out in public and passed judgement on people who have seemingly done something peculiar, or have had a lapse in concentration. And when they do we are all over them. We see a boy with a scratch on his face and we point, “A-hah! Can’t his mum protect him?” Waiting in a doctor’s surgery a mum tries to pacify her baby with the sh-sh-sh sounds that babies love, and some toothless hag says “Leave her alone. She’s just a baby.” You carry your baby as you walk, and an old man blocks your path, “What happens if you trip over? You could hurt your baby.” For f---s sake people! GET A LIFE! And leave mine alone.
Okay, I feel better now that I got that out of my system. So the next time you are down the street and you see someone do something a little bit special or weird, instead of judging them for a twit and doing that ugly eyeball thing. Spare a kind thought for that person. They might be having a bad day. Cast them a smile and remember, “that could easily be me.” On the other hand that other person might then be wondering, “Why is that freak smiling at me?”