Did I just say that?!
You see, I have opinions, and I can be blatantly honest with them too. Today I’m talking about the comments from ‘well meaning’ strangers, friends, and family. The comments that cut. That when built upon each other they are like death by a thousand paper cuts.
They especially hurt when they tap into your fears, especially those hidden from everyone else. One such comment came when Elf was just a wee babe, still in a stroller. Attending a night time Santa Claus parade in the early evening. Standing in the street I see an acquaintance of my husbands. He is not with us, but I should still say ‘hi’ at least. She is wearing her son in a body carrier this day and Elf is in the umbrella stroller. It went something like this…
me: ‘Hey, how are you? It’s been a while. He’s getting so big! How do you do it?!’
By now Elf is a year old, and it’s clear she is small for her age. At 16 pounds at her one year weigh in, I already have a tonne of concern.
‘I feed him!…You know, they grow when you feed them.’
Ouch! Her tone was so matter of fact. And it stung. Clearly it still sticks to me today. I’m not sure she really meant I wasn’t feeding my kid. She probably just meant it as it was. You feed your kid, and they grow. Except mine. I did a quick exit on the any further conversation.
There were other people offering their random advice too. Elf was probably 5 months old, but looked more like 3 months. Her one ear has a lack of cartilage and so it sticks out. And when they are babes with no hair, well, it’s really sticks out. I turn around from getting money out of a bank machine and there she is coming straight at me. Seeing the cute little bundle attached to my front, beaming with a huge smile! The lady approaches…
‘Oh what a cutie! How old?
‘…about 5 months…’ Elf bouncing in the carrier now. Getting attention winds her up!
‘o…she’s so small!…’ she makes the obvious head bob to look at each ear ‘…they can fix that you know…’
PARDON? …inside voice, inside voice, inside voice…
Again, I side step from the conversation. I don’t want to be rude, but at the same time, you are not an important opinion to me!
I’m sure I’ve done it. I’m sure I still do it. I try not to do it. But it happens, I make helpful suggestions or offer random advice. I’m still working on being more conscious of it. I try to make balance with it by congratulating, and making sure the people I cross paths with also know I think they are doing amazing things! My story of struggle is not special, and the only unique part to it is the characters in our play.
There may not be a solution to this, I don’t think expecting the comments to stop is realistic either. We are a social creature after all. We haven’t evolved to be fully actualised beings, yet.
So in the meantime, I am to be more conscious. Asking parents that are obviously struggling if they need a hand. Lifting groceries out of the cart into their car. Delivering the cart back to the wicket for them. Holding something while they try to figure out how to get the babe, the shopping bags, and their purse out of the cart and into the car. Random acts of kindness.
Want to do it with me?! The world needs a lot of random acts of kindness to balance itself out.