Friday, June 09, 2006

Smoothing things over

I've noticed over the past few years that DOB prefers to smooth over potentially troublesome issues in certain contexts. Say a total stranger comments on the existence of our two children and inquires as to our future plans. (Why this is a matter for public inquiry, I've never understood.)

"Oh, we'd like to have a third someday," DOB will say, casually.

Or the lady giving away a toddler bed makes a disparaging remark about the area schools.

"Oh, well," he says, "We're probably going to do private or home school or something."

Is this accurate, I wonder? Technically, both statements are quite correct, rather like the fellow who said, "Not in English," when asked if he had read Dante's Inferno. Of course, we'd like to have quite a few more than three, and we hadn't even considered private schools, much less "something." But is this the business of total strangers? Would it accomplish anything to make issues out of our lifestyle choices unnecessarily?

DOB, being a politician and a salesman by training, prefers not to make any more enemies than necessary.

My mother, who was neither, approached these things quite differently. One time we had a flat tire on a country road. While we were considering what to do, she spotted a mother and daughter standing out by the road, waiting for the school bus. She sent me off to walk the half-mile to the nearest home of an acquaintace, while she approached the lady, discovered she had briefly tried homeschooling and given it up, and devoted the rest of the time until my brother appeared with the spare tire to exhorting her to reconsider. My mother also had a personality that could generally get away with saying astonishing things without making a great many enemies.

I suppose there's a place for both kinds of people in the world. I think there's some value in waiting until people know you and realize you're not a total wacko before they find out about your stranger behaviors. If it's a real matter of right or wrong or direct attack, I don't mind saying something. But not everyone needs to be a polarizing force.

Eventually we'll probably have enough oddities that our mere existence will excite astonishment. Already I have trouble when people try to make conversation with D1 on standard issues of toddler interest. I don't want them to think she's stupid just to be staring at them blankly, but I also don't want to make a big deal out of the fact that she's never tasted fast food and never seen a children's TV program.

Yesterday at the park another mom came with two little boys and we chatted a bit while the children played. I mentioned that I was from Seattle.

"Oh, I love Seattle!" she said, "I've lived sixteen different places, and this is the most conservative place I've ever lived. It's crazy conservative!"

"Sixteen different places," I said, "Wow, that's a lot of moving."


Rachel's Jeremy said...

As if conservative was a bad thing! Oh well... We're at war and that is proof. :-)

the Joneses said...

I think you achieved the absolute perfect ending line in this post.

-- SJ

CappuccinoLife said...

lol. I love that last line.

We are not smoothers. We love to make jaws drop with "Of course, we're going to homeschool" and "Why, 15, or more!" in answer to certain questions.

I guess dh and I are more adversarially inclined. :D

the Joneses said...

A friend today told me that a neighbor asked if her daughter "belongs to your husband." What I'd never, ever reply, but would really want to, is, "I guess so. He brought her home, anyway."

-- SJ

OreoSouza said...

What a smart lady you are! Leave the persuading to those who enjoy it. Like you, I prefer a little bit of relationship to cushion the shock.

I love your "comeback" on Seattle being a conservative place. Made me laugh!