I am young and fun! Ha! I may look younger than my age, and for that I’m grateful. Most of the time. It’s this weird contradiction where I’m sad and slightly offended if I’m not carded for my glass of wine at dinner, but I’m also slightly offended when people insinuate I’m not old enough to have children, or at least don’t look old enough to have children. Such is the story I encountered today.
We live a little less than a half mile form our local chain grocery store (or grocery shop as my children call it), and about 3/4 of a mile from our local natural health food store- therefore we walk to them, probably about once a week. Well, hubbyman and I have decided we want to add more raw foods into our diet, and what better time to start than summer?! So I loaded up the kids and headed out.
I’ve talked about people’s thoughtlessness before (and outright rudeness as well), and thankfully today I had my wits about me, and was ready to turn this woman’s pettiness into my own form of amusement. To start with, as we wandered around the store, I was asked twice (by employees), are they all yours?! (No, I like to pick up children along my route and take them grocery shopping, just to see if I can survive it.) Then I was given the run down on why was I buying gluten free, and how people shouldn’t go gluten free just as a fad diet. I insisted that my daughter had to eat gluten free, and it was likely our whole family has gluten intolerances, as we all feel so much better from the change, can notice a difference when we do have it, and Celiac runs in both sides of the family. Ok, so I didn’t say all of that, but I did tell him that I really beneficial for our whole family. And this man just kept going! At least he was a customer and not part of the store (for the store’s sake). But he just kept going on about how “young people today just glom onto whatever latest fad and food trend there is without thinking or researching anything out for themselves.” I’ve never been berated over buying candy for the kids,but gluten free, apparently that really gets people riled… And then as I stood in the checkout line, the Bigger E children were standing with their arms wrapped around my legs, due to the ridiculous amount of strangers talking to us, the last dose of ageism occurred.
The lady who was working the check out counter, had obviously had a rough morning (or a rough life, I’m not sure). You could see it in her face as much as in her demeanor. She was not going to be the highlight of my day, or at least so I thought! As I waddled to the register with the kids clinging to my legs, and littlest E in the cart, clinging to my shirt, the lady gave me one of those wide-eyed-with-arched-brows kinda looks, where you just know some lovely comment is about to spew out of her mouth.
Aren’t you a little young to have a baby?
At first I’m appropriately taken aback, quickly followed by thinking up a hundred different “Aren’t you a little old to…” zingers. I had to bite back the words when I thought to myself, I’d rather be young and fun than old and cranky! But what I did say, with a laugh, was this: I am. Don’t tell my husband, or my other two kids. She looked a little shocked and a little horrified, and completely speechless. Biggest E began to protest at this point (which I think only led to more shock on her part, judging by the look on her face. Which was either due to Biggest E’s age or maybe she actually realized how offensive what she said was. That’s what I’m hoping.), he loudly declared, “You ARE old enough to have a baby!” At this point I grabbed my groceries, and said with a smile and a chuckle (and possibly an eye roll), “Well, have a good day!”
As we left the store, Miss E asked, “Why did that lady say that you are not big enough to be *LittlestE’s* mommy?” I really wanted to respond with, Well, she’s not young and fun like your mommy, she’s just old and cranky. But I knew that wasn’t the road I wanted to go down with her (or she’d probably be saying those words to me tomorrow!). So I told my girl what I believe to be the truth: ”I don’t think she was having a very good day, and sometimes people say things that aren’t very nice when they’re feeling cranky.” Biggest E pipes up with, “Like when you’re grumpy?” I nod, yes. At which point he starts singing, “Shake, shake your grumps away, shake, shake your grumps away…” And Miss E (who’s shaking her grumps away along with Biggest E) adds, “We should show the lady how to shake her grumps away. You know, with shaking her booty.” I’m pretty sure had that lady witnessed this conversation, her grumps would have been shaken away. I know mine were.