These are the ramblings of an eclectic and whimsical homeschooling family of eight... a little peek, if you will, inside the daily dawdlings and habits of my active and delightful family seeking to please the Lord in all we do! Hopefully our thoughts, observations, and activities will challenge you, inspire you, tickle you, cheer you, and let you know you are not the only one!

Monday, February 12, 2007

An impromptu etiquette lesson

Have you ever had one of those moments when your children embarrass you in public? Yes, it happens... and today's "incident" could have been worse and it provided a moment for a much needed lesson. So, I thought I'd share our morning trip to the mall for your general entertainment.

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.


Blogger Southern Belle said...

Hey Lady Why,
Could you have them pretend for a day what it would be like to be like that man and have no legs? Maybe they would empathize with the gentleman if they could "walk in his shoes" so to speak.

Hey how does next Tues sound at JL's for our "bread day?"

Let me know.
Southern Belle

6:15 PM  
Blogger Lady Why said...

Fabulous! I'll be there!!

As for pretending what it would be like to be 'him', I think they aren't quite over the trauma of seeing 'him'... much less being 'him'!! You should have heard them as they told Mr. P the story with furrowed brows and those super serious expressions. It was hard to stifle a chuckle, I must admit!

6:24 PM  
Blogger LinesFromTheVine said...

I'm not laughing at you...laughing with you, I promise, this will be a moment that you will never forget.

Mine came in the form of a visit to Walmart. The female cashier was much less than feminine and my then 5 year old son loudly asked from the back of my buggy (not 2 feet from her) if she was a man or a woman! UGH!


7:17 PM  
Anonymous local girl said...

Sometimes I dread taking my daughter out in public. Kids tend to say the first thing that comes to mind.

Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life. It will be included in our next edition.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Mommy the Maid said...

That's a moment you will never forget :)

About the maternity clothes, Motherhood Maternity and Pea in a Pod have reqular old camis, tanks, tees and long sleeves for pregnant bellys. The clothes there are really expensive, but the shirts like that can be found pretty cheap.

Also, target usually carries some stuff that isn't made for Julia Roberts or Gywneth. Good luck!

Oh, almost forgot, I am here from the CFL !

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I can imagine your embarrassment. At least, hopefully, your girls learned a good lesson.

Here via the carnival of family life.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Samantha said...

I had something similar to this happen to me. In my case though, one of my girls says (not quietly) "Mommy, where's that ladies arm?" I wanted to crawl under something and hide. I had to explain to my girls that sometimes people are different from us. So far, we've not had anymore experiences like that. I came over from Carnival of Family Life :)

8:50 AM  
Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Here via Carnival of Family Life. As the mother of a disabled child, I loved this story, and I can assure you that the man is probably not offended, especially since you talked to him and he could probably tell you were embarrassed.

Those of us with differences or family members who look different are kind of used to freaking kids out, and we understand that kids aren't born knowing how to act.

It's the adults who act like there's nothing at all wrong with their kids freaking out, or worse, the adults who gawk and stare, or turn their backs, or flinch if they have to get too close to a disabled person that are offensive.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Oh what a (memorable) learning experience. you handled it well!

here via CFL

4:02 PM  
Blogger Myfriendconnie said...

Great learning opportunity!

"Mom, you should know," cracked me up!

6:43 AM  

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