Monday, March 12, 2012

is that a man?

Dear Em,
My mom tells me stories about how I embarrassed her when I was a child. Recently, after her stories she smiles at me & says, "just wait, you'll see." I know that children say whatever comes to mind, but still I wasn't prepared for it. And then there was the grocery store...

We were weighing our avocados & a woman was waiting behind us. You looked at her & asked me, "is that a man?" I looked back at the woman standing behind us. She was an older woman with short hair & a birthmark that covered most of the right side of her face. I felt the blood quickly traveling to my face. I'm typically pretty good at handling uncomfortable situations like this, but I just blanked. I couldn't not think of one thing to say as I gave her an uncomfortable smile.

She looked at you & said, "Nope, I'm not a man. What's your other choice?" You made a little pout as you clearly became scared that a stranger was talking to you. I stood like a mute idiot.

The woman turned to me & said, "That's OK, hunny, I've looked in the mirror." She sweetly smiled & walked away.

It wasn't until after she walked away that I began to remember things like the English language & words & how to use my mouth to make words. Why didn't I say, "Oh, it's because you have short hair?" Why couldn't I explain that Rapunzel is your idle & you associate long hair with being a girl & short hair with being a boy. Why didn't I say anything? Why didn't I apologize?

I felt like crying. I felt so sad that we had hurt the woman's feelings, a woman we had never seen before & will probably never see again. I wasn't mad or upset with you. I know you would never try to hurt anyone, but I still felt so awful. At that moment I just wanted to sink into the floor & hide.

Moments later another woman with a tight bun walked by & you said, "there's another man." I started to quickly push our cart down the isle. I don't think I've ever grocery shopped so quickly. As we were walking out to the car, a man with long hair & a ponytail walked past us. "Look, Mommy, a girl," you exclaimed. I know that you are just curious & trying to learn by observing, but seriously?! It was as if the universe was conspiring against me. How many people could we possibly offend in one shopping trip?

During the drive home we had a long talk about women sometimes having short hair & men sometimes having long hair. Also, I asked if we could stop playing the girl or boy game at the supermarket.

I love you so,

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