April 21, 2012

Fill in the Impossible Embarrassing Blank

Tell me: If your 4-year-old child says, in a puzzled and clearly audible voice as you're checking out at the register, "That shopkeeper...looks like she has a beard," and the shopkeeper is female--- Is there any way to FIX that?

26 comments:

Leeann said...

hahaha I have no idea. But it does seem that a shocking number of bearded ladies ARE cashiers!

And you know you were thinking about it too! lol

Rachael Heiner said...

Run?

Angela said...

"She didn't disappear, honey! See, she's right there!"

Anonymous said...

Delight in the fact that a four year old uses the word shopkeeper?

Anonymous said...

My daughter did something similar when she was that age at a convenience store checkout - what she said was (loudly), "Mommy, that girl looks like a boy!" (which she did...) Awkward... I like how Angela fixed it but my kid would have loudly corrected me, "no, mommy, what I said was...." and repeat it! agh

Carolyn said...

HAHAHAHA, I like Angela's and the Anonymous-person-below-her's responses ;) I have no idea what I would have done, but I am so glad you shared it with us ;)

Sam said...

I have no idea, because everything I think of would be counteracted by the typical four year old. "No, that's just the lighting!" "Nope, it looks like a beard on HER FACE MOMMY. DON'T YOU SEE IT?!" I allegedly did something similar to a cashier when I was preschool aged. I'm not telling what I did though, it was NOT COOL.

Slim said...

Nope.

But this is why we have the "Don't comment on someone's appearance" and the "Don't talk about people when they're right there and can hear you" conversations a jillion times, isn't it? In the hope that at some point it may sink in, and they will go off into the world understanding how to behave? (They will, won't they?)

StephLove said...

Depends a little on whether she did look like she had a beard and whether she smiled, glared or looked neutral when she heard it.

Swistle said...

StephLove- (1) She did, and (2) I couldn't bear to look at her face until the first wave of embarrassment had passed. By then, she looked neutral.

Alice said...

Oh, MY. These kinds of moments are when I love stock phrases - they can't FIX it, per se, but they can at least give me something to say so that the kid doesn't repeat themselves IN A LOUDER VOICE, because maybe I didn't hear them the first time.

(Though since I don't have kids of my own yet, this has all been in the less-intensely-embarassing situations of dealing with kids at work, or when out with nieces/nephews.)

My go-to is 'remember how we talked about bodies having lots of variety?', though 'we don't talk about other people's bodies, remember?' is another keeper.

kate said...

I think I would say, "it's very rude to comment on people's appearance", which wouldn't erase the embarrassment, but might be what the cashier would like to say to my kid. And then in the car, I would reiterate why it was rude.

My four year old has no filter, so it's just a matter of time before I have occasion to need that.

Rebecca said...

I generally go with the "It is rude to say something like that" comment, too, when my 3 year old says something like that. Because if I try to tell my kid that she doesn't have a beard, but she looks like she DOES, he will keep trying to correct me. And anyway, she probably DOES look like she has a beard. So I go with the focus on his behavior, rather than her looks. I just hope that the lady overhears and me and realizes that I am trying my best to civilize him. Then I usually apologize to the lady for his rudeness.

I find it is better to face these things head-on, rather than pretend like my kid didn't say anything.

Amanda said...

Aggh. Crawl in a hole? Yeah. I've gone with "we do not comment on how people look because everyone is different" and an evil "shut up right now before I murder you" mommy glare. In my case the question was "Mommy is that person a boy or a girl?" I couldn't tell myself.

Esss said...

I think telling the child that it's a rude thing to say and making them apologize to the cashier, is a difficult but acceptable fix.

Josefina said...

What I have been told by a friend who was on the receiving end of something almost identical to this was that she wanted the mother to acknowledge what the child said and have the child apologize or offer an apology herself. Even though it's a little kid it still hurts, and it made it worse when the mother acted like it was fine. So, that's what I've done (I correct my child, then apologize to the person) when my kids do something like that--which they DID do, FREQUENTLY, at the same age as your little one. And, the little one gets to see what to do when things go wrong. Not all offenses are preventable, and grown-ups screw up, too. The younger they learn how to deal with it, the better, I figure.

Beth said...

Josefina-I am filing that one away for future use. I have been lucky so far, but I'm sure it is coming. I have three kids, the odds are against me.
The only thing we've run into so far was a girl with a walker, but that one was easy to handle as there was a (fairly) easy explanation I could offer.

Bitts said...

When my 5 or 3 year olds do this, I usually say brightly, "People have all different looking faces! Ooh, look at her sparkly earrings (long fingernails, shiny nametag, etc.)!"

I mean, it's not like the lady doesn't KNOW she has a beard. Kids are observant, and since a child's acknowledgement of what she sees is intended innocently, I treat it as such. If there was no malicious intent, I don't think it's necessary to add insult to injury to force the child to apologize.

My position is, as long as the kid is right (and it's not a trick of lighting, or some other reasonable mistake), I acknowledge it, too, and try to model how to look for the beautiful things about a person, rather than focusing on the eye-catching unusual thing.

Nellyru said...

I don't know, but I think it seems like a pretty innocent comment coming from someone so young...reprimanding them and making them apologize to a stranger as if they said something hateful seems a bit harsh. Little ones point out lots of things that they are observing...the sky is blue, grass is green...that lady looks like she has a beard. I think it seems a bit mean to treat it as if there was some malice in it.
That's not to say I don't live in UTTER FEAR of such moments.

Alexicographer said...

I'm sort of with Nellyru on this. I had a truly funny similar moment when walking through a campground with my son (same age as your LO is now) when he loudly observed that our campfire was MUCH BETTER THAN someone else's. I allowed as to how theirs was smaller, but we all had campfires appropriate to our needs and preferences, and happily, generated a large and friendly guffaw from the relevant campsite. I was much more mortified when at a much younger age (2?), DS announced in line at a convenience store that the woman standing in front of us was a "BIG MAMA." She was, at least, noticeably large (I have no idea of her maternal status), and was also, as it turned out, noticably gracious (I couldn't really have made DS apologize simply because she turned around and very politely and gently said to him, "Yes, I am big, aren't I?" or some such).

All of which is mostly to say I feel your pain and am muddling through this sort of thing myself (and see value in the "valuing differences" angle as well as the "teaching politeness" angle, and a grey zone between the two).

-R- said...

I might say, "Ha ha! You have such a good imagination!"

In line at Kohls the other night, Ren said, "Look at that lady's hair! It's pretty... and crazy!" I responded, "Yes, it is very pretty." The childless couple behind me could not stop laughing.

M.Amanda said...

Angela is brilliant. Unfortunately, I wouldn't think quickly enough to play it off like that.

The newest girl in my 3-year-old's dance class came with her mother for the first time a few weeks ago. She was rather... manly-looking. Since it's typically mothers who accompany the children, my daughter loudly asked why her daddy brought her to class and if boys were allowed there. I don't know if she heard it, but I spent the next hour feeling like my face was on fire.

jive turkey said...

This is why kids are awesome/responsible for most of the wine consumption among parents.

SIL Anna said...

AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha!

Oh my goodness. I love him so much.

Anonymous said...

No, there isn't. You just smile and say sorry.

And then talk to the kid after.

I think an awkward situation like this happens to all parents at some point - gah!

Yo-yo Mama said...

I agree with Bitts and NellyRu, unless the comment had a malicious intent and I'd say a 4 year old isn't saying it to be mean, but just pointing out a matter of fact.

There's really no "fixing" it as far as the person who it was directed at, but what is there to fix? Now, my mom may actually say that about someone and I would totally put her in her place for that AND apologize for my mother's lack of manners.

I like the idea of pointing out a positive of the subject. Redirection. With a toddler, we live by that motto.