The Opposite of Staring

7 01 2011

Our local, fancy-schmancy, community center has a program on Mondays and Fridays where you pay a buck and your kids get to run around in the gymnasium playing with balls, hula hoops, bikes or, in our case, the drinking fountain.

Today it was a full house.  One mother had brought her baby’s walker.  The baby scooted around while her brother played.  I noticed this mom seemed to have a weird vibe going on, but whatever.

When it was time to leave my kids were awesome at helping to pick up.  PJ was lingering with some friends and Little Dude and I went over to get our coats.  At that point the mom had her baby on her lap and the walker directly in front of her.  Little Dude fell in love – with the walker.  I was close behind him and as he began to check it out I started my mother babble, “Isn’t that a cool walker?  What a lucky baby.”  He touched a couple of the toys, but didn’t put anything in his mouth or really perform any major transgression that I could see.  As he continued to investigate, I squatted down behind him and continued to jabber while making sure he did not touch the toys again as the mother had not acknowledged him or what I had said.

Now I am about 10 inches from this woman’s knee – Little Dude is a couple inches closer.  He takes an interest in her baby.  So I start chatting to him about the baby and continue to try and catch the mother’s eye.  No, noooot looking.  She is not looking.  She can not see us.  We are invisible.  Little Dude and I smile and chat with the baby who is putting her toes in her mouth and interacting with us.  But not the Mom.  She still can not see us, she can not hear us, we do not exist.

I try again to catch her eye but this is getting too weird and it is clear she is about to leave.  I am afraid in her efforts to ignore us, she is going to walk right on top of us.  So I say good-bye to the baby and we get out of the way.

She leaves and I help Little Dude put his coat on.  My friend A comes over and sits down and I say, “I just had the weirdest experience.”

I start explaining to her what happened and another woman who was sitting there the whole time (a grandmother who is exactly who I want to be in 27 years) says, “Yes, it was totally strange.”

So we include her in the conversation as I replay what happened.  And then I start making excuses for the first woman.  “I don’t know, maybe she was having a really bad day.  Maybe she is super shy….”  The grandmother is itching to say it, but waits, waits, waits and finally we both say it at the same time, “And maybe she is a racist.”

The grandmother (and that seems like such a strange word to apply to this woman who is obviously in great shape and looks more like she creates seven course, organic, gourmet meals as compared to baking cookies) explains that her grandson is bi-racial and she sees the bigotry all the time.

I know that I am constantly saying that my favorite thing about our new hometown is the number of trans-racial families we see daily.  I get the sense that there are so many shades of families here, no one really notices us.   But we have never actually been INVISIBLE before.

Dear Universe,

I know that I allowed myself to stare at the beautiful little boy at the grocery store too long last night.  I understand that even if my intentions were pure I probably made that father and his son feel weird.  I get it.  I will be more careful.

We got the karmic message loud and clear this morning.  And as they say, sometimes karma is a b1tch.  (In this case, a racist b1tch.)

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5 responses

7 01 2011
Sherryl

I hope if you go to this play group and see that woman again you strike up a conversation with her. Becuase if your assumption might be true, then she deserves to be made feel a little uncomfortable! (IMO)

7 01 2011
leigh

Oh. My. God. That is beyond weird. If I saw her again I would totally have to say something super sweet to her. Like maybe invite her to a play date or something, you know, just to see.

Wow. How incredibly sad. I am soooooooo sorry you had to have that happen today. That was ugly.

7 01 2011
christine

Not karma. To me, at least. Your sweet curiosity about that little boy has nothing to do with that unbelievably rude woman. Ignore an adult maybe, but who in their right mind could ignore little dude? My blood pressure just went up.

8 01 2011
shannoncl

You made me giggle at that last line. Precisely!

Although- I probably will now consider saying “Well this is an odd experience” before leaving her side, when that happens to us. As it will.

8 01 2011
claudia

Oh yeah, that is WEIRD.

You should totally give her a copy of the ‘shades of people’ book you recommended a week or so ago. Just slip it into her hands and say ‘this might help’. I would pay good money to see that.

(Which is a stupid way to say that book arrived yesterday and I *LOVE* it. As in, LOVE it. It’s so good I pretty much cried. Can’t thak you enough for the rec!)

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