An impromptu etiquette lesson
Today is our piano lesson day. We have five children that take piano on the same day. The lessons are each 45 minutes long. When you do the math you see that we are at piano lessons for a looooong time on Mondays. To combat boredom for the younger members of the family, once their lessons are complete I usually take Hannah Banana and Cindy Lou out to run errands, spend time at the library, or to play outside when the weather is as beautiful as it was today. We should have played outside.
This morning after Hannah Banana and Cindy Lou had finished their lessons, I decided to head over to the mall to shop for maternity clothes. As a side note, the maternity fashions have taken a nose dive in modesty, attractiveness and ability to cover one's blooming belly since the last time I needed them. It has been most discouraging but I continue to shop and hope for the best. Today I had some minor success in that I found three short sleeved shirts on the clearance rack at one of our local department stores. I decided to buy them and began to make my way to the nearest cashier. Somewhat near the cashier was a man in a wheelchair and his wife discussing a shirt she wanted him to buy for himself. They were still thinking so the girls and I walked around them and up to the clerk. As the girls came around the front of the wheelchair, they began to stare and gawk at the man standing just inches away from him looking him up one side and down the other. Their mouths were hanging open and their eyes were wide as saucers. It was not nice! What intrigued and horrified them was that the man had no legs. They have seen many people in wheelchairs, but aren't that familiar with amputees... thus, the awkward horrified looks on their faces and the staring... at least they weren't pointing. I quickly took them by their hands and went on up to the cashier. As the lady was totaling my purchase, the man and his wife came and stood behind us in line. The man then struck up a conversation with me. The girls gawked. He asked me if they were twins. The girls stared. He then looked at them and said, "What beautiful girls you are!" smiling broadly. The girls faces went white as a sheet and they both in unison turned their backs on the man and pressed their noses against the checkout counter! It was too high for them to see over it so they just stood there as though they were having to stand in a corner with their noses to the wall! I was mortified!!!
I quickly made excuses for them by saying how shy they are, how they normally are very talkative and pleasant, polite girls, how sorry I am... I don't really remember what I said to the very understanding man as I grabbed my bag and ran as fast as I could away from that cash register! When I was a safe distance away I stopped and in a stern voice asked the girls why in the world they were so rude to the nice man when he paid them such a lovely compliment. Hannah Banana looked at me with the most perturbed look as though to say, "Mom! You should know!" but Cindy Lou was much more to the point and with both hands out said through clenched teeth and a forced whisper lest anyone should hear... "Mom! The man had no LEGS!"
Now, I often wonder what children think at certain times in life and I stopped and thought about this today. Do they think because the man is in a wheelchair he can't see them staring a hole right through him and when he spoke, they were actually shocked he could communicate with them? Apparently so. Needless to say, we had an impromptu etiquette lesson right there in the aisle of J.C. Penney. My children will hopefully have a somewhat better understanding of those in wheelchairs or with any disability next time they are in a position to interact with them... then again, they may have their noses pressed against the wall. One never knows.