Assume the Best

 

“What is your name, child?” she asked my son.

 

We were standing in line at the post office.  I had my (way big for his age) 16-month old on my hip and my 6-month old daughter in an infant carrier on my arm.  Balanced in the crook of my elbow was the package I needed to mail and both my arms were starting to ache.

 

A. didn’t answer her.  Of course he didn’t.  While I didn’t know at the time that he would be silent for more than another whole year, I did know with certainty that he wasn’t going to answer her question.  I kindly told her as much, saying, “Oh, he doesn’t actually talk yet.”

 

I didn’t think much of it.  After all- it’s certainly not uncommon for 16-month old toddlers to not yet speak.  Yes, he looked older than that.  Still, I assumed this conversation had ended.

 

She spared my baby daughter a brief, pitying glance.  Perhaps she had never seen a baby with an NG-tube and an oxygen tank before.  She raised her eyes back to me.  What she said next will remain with me until the day I die…

 

“This is why people shouldn’t just go popping out babies back to back.  Didn’t even give yourself a chance to realize that, obviously, you must have genetic problems.”  (as she pointed her chin at my precious little girl)

 

………..

 

Now.

 

I’m feisty.  I can be flippant and clever and cut people off at the knees with a single scathing sentence.  I don’t list these as my best traits, but I want you to know how I can be.  I’m quick on my feet and I don’t tend to be one of those people who only thinks of the cunning replies after the fact.

 

I could say nothing that day.

 

My heart plummeted and I cried my way through mailing a package back home.   I can still remember watching the hot drops fall onto my carefully Sharpie-d printing, hoping the letters wouldn’t run.

 

I know, dear readers, that none of you would say anything so cruel.  I truly do know this.  So what is the lesson here?

 

Maybe we all need to just remember that things aren’t always as they appear. A wild, unruly child may not be the result of lax parenting.  A picky, lousy eater may not stem from a steady fast food diet or indulgence.  A hyper, spastic child may not be jacked up on refined sugar by a careless mother.  A child who refuses eye contact or doesn’t speak may not be rude at all.

 

Let’s all try something new next time we see some behavior that doesn’t quite measure up to our standards…

 

Let’s give a little grace and just assume the best.

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31 comments to Assume the Best

  • OH MAN!!!!!!!! I would go OFF!!!!!

    my worst ever…. was from my Boss.

    In the midst of battling infertility, before we got preg with Lil’C

    “God, won’t allow someone like you to have children”

    Still makes me angry.

    • Oh, Krysta… what a horribly un-Christian thing to say. I’m so very glad that God proved your boss wrong!

      • Top it off.. he’s a music minister. I really should say my Former boss. They let me go when I told them Lil’C was coming home. *shrugs*

        We get the questions all the TIME too (with him being on O2).. I have found a way to battle them.. I bought him a pair of red “chucks” (converse High tops) and he wears them all the time :D
        So the first question we now get now is “Where did you get those shoes!!!” at least from adults. We still get “whats that thing on his face” from kids, but that’s no big. At least it starts the conversation on a happy note :D

  • AMEN! Grace has always been big for her age, too. Add painfully shy to the mix and she is more than likely going to hide behind me when a stranger is near. Just the way it is.

    Assuming the best is almost always a good strategy. I’m sorry that happened to you.

    • There are definite challenges in having a child who is big for his/ her age. People always expected A. to be able to do things that weren’t even close to reasonable for his age. As he gets older, I’m finding there are many advantages too, but those toddler/early preschool years were tough.

  • Colleen

    Wow. My eyes just bugged out. I’m pretty sure I would have been in stunned silence as well. Sadie didn’t talk until about 22 months. My own father asked out of concern if we had her AS tested. I said no and that I wasn’t really worried about it. She was hitting all her milestones, and in fact was also quite tall for her age. (Still is).
    I know he was asking out of concern, and I didn’t take it too seriously but I was a little disappointed. Not sure if I was disappointed at that point in him for asking, or in myself for NOT testing her. But let me tell you, once she started preschool she hasn’t been quiet since!

    I always assume the best in others. Give them an A+right up front. It’s up to them to fail you.

  • Courtney

    Well said!!!!!!! I would never in a million years say something ugly like that, but it is way too easy to be judgmental, especially when it comes to small children. :<} Sometimes I may be correct in my (negative) assumption, but I try reallllllllly hard to give the benefit of the doubt. (And good grief, at least I only think it and don't say it!) Thanks for the reminder.

  • So sorry you had to go through that :-( People can be so thoughtless to strangers sometimes :-(

    When things like that happen I always try to assume the best, maybe she was having a REALLY bad day, or she was battling some form of infertility, or there was an illness/death in the family. I know that I have said some really dumb things to others when stressed. I try to make excuses and allowances for others, but, oh gosh, it is easier said than done.

    • Very true- I don’t know what kind of day she was having or her history. There’s never an excuse for cruelty, but there could have been mitigating circumstances. Good point.

  • Oh, AMEN! I nearly shouted AMEN while reading this. I haven’t experienced something quite so rude, but have had my share of snide glances when my middle child acts out.

    I am not usually a witty person who has quick comebacks, so I imagine I would have reacted similarly to what you did. I would have been SO hurt and so sad that people can be so incredibly rude and vocal about something to which they have absolutely no idea what the story actually is.

    Having a child who is slightly different from the “norm” has made me painfully aware (and repentant) of just how judgmental I use to be in regards to these types of things.

    • And AMEN to your comment too, Laura. I must absolutely admit that, while I am sure I have never said anything so cruel, I have certainly had many judgmental thoughts. And the fact is that while some of my assumptions may be accurate, without a doubt many are incorrect too. So important to be ever-cognizant of that. I, too, am repentant for my judgments.

  • Oh my word! I would have been speechless too! That is the rudest thing I’ve ever heard!

    And, yeah, I have the gift of sarcasm. Comes in handy when people ask me WHY. ON. EARTH. we would have 8 children. I like to tell them we’re just trying to outnumber the idiots.

    • My grandmother used to get so irritated with the “scholars” who pushed zero population growth theories and tried to win over all the educated folk. Her theory? If we get the smart people to stop having more babies, the world is going to be overrun with the offspring of the less intelligent. She had a good point. ;)

  • Um… What?? I mean, really… What the HECK was THAT!?!?

    Geez, how rude.

    Yet you make such a great point. How many times have I been just as rude IN MY HEAD? *sigh*

  • OH MY gosh that is just horrible. No wonder you were speechless. I felt a little sucker punched and instant tears and I don’t even know your kids in person. Perhaps I’m oblivious, but I don’t think anyone has ever implied anything negative about Reese’s lack of speaking. When is it “normal” to introduce yourself? Gus doesn’t say his name. He says “hi” and “Bye” only to strangers at stores. We just had his 2 yr appt and he is totally “NORMAL” with over 50 words. Geez some people just suck. I am so very sorry, friend, that you had someone say such wretched things about your babies right to your face

    • That you would tear up on behalf of my child truly warms my heart, Heather… and the truth is that, because of loving, supportive souls like yours, it’s easier to deal with the not-so-nice ones. The woman was a tough age to deal with, in my opinion… in her 60′s. Kind of “grandmotherly age”. Old enough to know better for sure, not old enough to get an “old person pass.” I was so blind-sided. :( If only she could see my A. now… ;)

  • So I just read this to my hubby, who is very quiet and mild mannered and never speaks up about anything in public. He said “I would have said something very profane to her.”

  • Marci

    People used to drive me crazy asking why my daughter wasn’t speaking very much. Imagine their surprise when she started speaking not in words or baby talk but in actual sentences! My first son has a lot of port wine birthmarks all over his arms so I get “What are THOSE??? Is he okay???” all of the time. And my other son had to wear a helmet “What’s wrong with HIM???” Lots of whispered comments. I’ve gone between shock, answering honestly, and simply ignoring people depending on the situation. I wish more people would just enjoy kids for who they are rather than focusing on what they assume could potentially be wrong with them.

    • It always amazes me, Marci, how many ADULTS ask these insensitive questions. At least in our case, it always seemed like the children’s questions stemmed from curiosity while their parents’ queries were accusatory. Ignoring is often the best response.

  • Oh my, oh my, oh my. My heart hurts for you. I hate those moments that are so rude and so painful that they rest with us forever. Never mind the fact that as Christians we forgive and move on – words like these are not just forgotten. I don’t know what I would have said in that situation. I guess we can just pray for her and hope she has found the Lord. I don’t know what kind of day she must have been having, or if she never knows the impact she has, but what she said was still unacceptable.

    • I have a hard time fathoming what that woman thought she was accomplishing with her words that day… but I am grateful that I have (and had) the support and love in place to cope with them. It saddens me to think of how much more they could have hurt had I not had supportive friends and family.

  • Ummmmmm, my jaw is dropped and I truly have no words.

  • How awful! I’m so sorry you had to go through that! It’s a great reminder to me to be careful not to make assumptions about other people.

  • Kelley

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder that we really are all in this life together. I try so hard to be free of judgements of others…it can be hard for me at times. I will remember this post next time negativity creeps into my brain.

    It hurts my heart that you experienced such a sharp tongued comment. Those are ALWAYS the ones we hold on to so tight. Never the 1,000 comments on how wonderful you are! Here is one more: Your thoughts are brilliant! Happy 4th!

  • Carol B.

    Wow. I can’t really think of anything to say. Just when I though humans wouldn’t be able to surprise me anymore. So sorry you’ve had to deal with cretins like this…woman.

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