Maya’s last NDI (National Dance Institute) class was today so we all went down to watch them perform the dance they’ve been working on over the winter. There were about 20 kids in the class and it’s a pretty small space, so Joshua, Ben and I parked ourselves on the floor at the side of the room in order to see everyone. As it began, the woman who is the Executive Director of the Institute was standing right in front of Ben while videotaping some of the warm ups the kids were doing. I didn’t notice, being too caught up in watching what was going on, until Ben in his usual polite way tapped the Director on the leg and said, “Excuse me, could you please move over a little?” She looked down and said, “Oh, sorry,” then looked at me with a smile and said, “He’s not yours, right?”
Now at first when she said that I glanced at Joshua, then back at her and almost said, “No, he’s mine…”, but then I realized that she thought she was making a joke. Because maybe I would be embarrassed by the fact that he asked her to move. Or something?
I honestly was baffled. (I’m still baffled, thinking about it.) Why would she say that to me? It’s not as if he yelled out, “Hey lady, move your butt over so I can see!” I thought he handled himself quite well. He didn’t ask me to ask her to move. He asked himself, said excuse me and please. And her response was to make that joke? Of course it was one of those moments that went by quickly and got absorbed into everything else that was going on and because of that I said nothing. It was not a conversational moment.
If, however, I could hit rewind, go back to the moment she said that and then pause the rest of the room, I would ask her about it. Can you imagine it? I would say, “I don’t understand. Why would you say that? Was there something wrong with what he said that I shouldn’t claim him as mine?” And then she would be embarrassed and probably annoyed and I would become a topic of “can you believe that parent?” conversation. Because most adults think adultism (which is defined as behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people) is normal and ok. (They wouldn’t even define it; it’s just the way things are.)
Maybe I’m making too much of it, but I hate it when adults condescend to kids or talk like they aren’t there and can’t hear what’s being said. And what’s worse is when they don’t realize or acknowledge it.