In Which I Assure Myself A Special Place in Hell

Today I took Zoey out for a Super-Awesome-So-Much-Fun Girls Lunch. And yes, we called it that. Alll daaaaay loooong. This morning I had to take her to get blood drawn for a lead test and I was using anything I could think of as bribery. (She also got a new pink suitcase with wheels.) So we went to The Pub just before noon and were seated in our favorite booth — the one right by the fake (I think) buffalo head with a lei of pink flowers draped over its horns.

After we ordered, we were busy booth-dancing to ‘(Do the) Mashed Potato’. As we sat there wiggling our booties, bumping our fists together, and shaking our heads like were listening to an ’80’s hair band, a gaggle of old ladies walked past. One of the ladies paused to admire Zoey.

“Well, isn’t she just the most adorable child EVER,” she gushed.

“Thank you,” I said even though I had nothing to do with Zoey’s looks. Zoey wisely (as it turns out) avoided eye contact.

“Oh look, she’s shy!” The lady put her face about 3 inches from Zoey, who, tragically, was unable to scoot back as she had just spilled her lemonade on the booth chair. “She is just SO PRECIOUS. Look at that hair!” And then the lady reached out to touch Zoey’s curls.

“NO TOUCH!” Zoey put her hand up to push the lady away. But, it should be noted, she did not actually make contact with the lady. Nope, the lady pulled her hand back in what I can only assume was horror.

“Oh! Please don’t touch her hair,” I said. “She doesn’t like it . . .”

“Well,” the lady straightened up to her full height of 5’3″. “She’s not shy! She’s . . . she’s . . . RUDE.”

“Nooooo,” I countered. “Touching someone’s hair is pretty personal. She can say no.” I was going to go on about how Zoey didn’t mean to offend her and how she is just learning how to communicate about not wanting someone to touch her, but, alas, I was interrupted.

“She shouldn’t talk to adults that way. My children never would have done that. I raised my children right!” She jabbed her finger in the air for emphasis, her embarrassment turned into anger.

“Well,” I seethed, “I’m sure you need to get to your table and we are going to get back to our lunch.” And I gave her the fake, you-are-now-dismissed smile.

“I’ve never seen a child . . .”

“No,” I said sharply. “You know what? Just no.  You would never approach an adult stranger and reach out and touch their hair, so don’t do it to my child. IT’S. NOT. OK. Now please move along.” And she did.  With sighing and eye rolling.

Then Zoey and I had a talk about our bodies and saying no.  Which really wasn’t what I had planned on for a lunch topic but whatever.

Now I’m sort of worried that there may be a special place in hell reserved for me because I told off a senior citizen.  But the thing is, this happens ALL. THE. TIME. I’m not sure if it’s because Zoey is a kid, or if it’s because she’s a person of color, or both.  But strangers seem to think it’s fine to just reach out and touch her.  Without asking.  Zoey hates it and it drives me nuts too.  To me it seems so disrespectful — almost like Zoey isn’t real or whole. They can do what they want; there are no consequences because, on some level, she doesn’t matter. I know, I know, they may not be thinking that on a conscious level.  But they sure as hell aren’t thinking, Hey, I really respect this kid either. And I guess I’d rather go to that special place in hell than not defend my daughter.

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15 thoughts on “In Which I Assure Myself A Special Place in Hell

  1. Tracy

    Um, Heaven. I think you must’ve meant Heaven. Hell’s gonna be pretty busy with that nasty old lady burning up down there. Well done, Jos. Well done.

    Reply
  2. Erin

    That woman’s reaction to Zoey’s desire not to be touched is simply horrifying. It’s bad enough that she thought it was okay to manhandle a child she didn’t know, but that woman is pure evil to criticize Zoey for having a perfectly acceptable reaction and then tell you that you are a bad parent. I’m absolutely stunned that this happened. Are we sure this woman isn’t Hell’s Keeper himself, just dressed up as an old lady?

    Reply
  3. Erin

    Oh, and Zoey’s hair IS simply spectacular, by the way. I understand that woman’s desire to touch it, but there’s no way in hell I would even dream of doing so.

    Reply
  4. Joshua Herzig-Marx (@herzigma)

    I get a kick of asking Zoey and having her tell me No. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy (someone else’s) kids saying No? Though it’s been a really long time.

    That said, I think as a general rule we don’t treat kids as whole people, either individually or as a group.

    Reply
    1. Zozo's Mom

      Yeah, I’m not sure why we don’t treat them as whole (some people more than others – yes, I’m looking at you old lady and law makers). Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  5. Niki

    Simply ridiculous and unbelievable! I just can’t even imagine. I really really hope she doesn’t have grandchildren. Or that if she does, they rip her a new one.

    Reply
  6. Lisa McKay

    OK, LOVE the new blog. Also, LOVE the fact that you stood up for Zoe like that with such a reasonable rebuff. I must admit (being totally honest here) that I am sometimes guilty of reaching out and touching kids heads or their faces. I don’t know why. The best I can figure out is that they’re small. And they’re cute. And there’s something about them sometimes that makes me want to pet them – like puppies. This is not to say that Zoe (and any other kid) doesn’t have the right to not like being touched and to say no (and good for her for doing that by the way). I would hope, though, that faced with a “don’t touch” or even a “I don’t like it” vibe I would have the good sense to back off and even apologise for transgressing a boundary rather than getting all pissy over the hurt pride and embarrassment thing.

    Reply
    1. Zozo's Mom

      Thanks for commenting on the new blog!!! I was hoping *someone* would say they liked it! 😉 I am CERTAIN that you would back off and/or apologize if a toddler said no to you. It will be interesting to see how you feel about this in, oh, say, 7 weeks or so . . . 🙂

      Reply
  7. Alicia King

    OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

    1. 20 gold stars to Zoey for standing up for herself and her body boundaries, something 1 in 4 college-age women don’t do. (Just came from my daughter’s college orientation and am freakin’ FULL of scary stats like that.)

    2. 20 chocolate stars to you for breaking through the niceness barrier and saying what your daughter needed you to say in an uncomfortable public situation!

    3. Anybody else think this old bat needs a refresher course on rudeness, since she’s now the effing POSTER CHILD FOR IT?!?!

    Reply
    1. Zozo's Mom

      1 in 4??? ONE IN FOUR????? GAH! Do. Not. Like. That really seems like something they should tell us at middle school orientation so we can work on it with the kids. I know for sure, FOR SURE, that your kid will have good boundaries — I’ve always been in awe of her maturity and self respect. But . . . thanks for the chocolate stars. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Anne Linder

    I totally agree with all the stuff posted above but mostly have to say that you have the best/readers/commenters of any blog that I read. You have created a circle of awesome.

    Reply
    1. Zozo's Mom

      “Circle of awesomeness”. Yessss, I like that. I like that very much. Hm . . . I must think on how I can use that — for good of course! Thanks for being one of the awesome readers/commenters.

      Reply

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