Posted on | February 21, 2013 | 10 Comments
As we stood in the line at Harris Teeter yesterday, Sully struck up a conversation with the cashier. He’s a talkative little guy, and he usually starts asking questions like, “Where do you live?” and “What’s your name?” A bit of a creeper, but his questions are harmless and typical of a curious child. As I was handing over a package of sausage, I heard him speak words that made me freeze:
“Why is your belly so big?”
I could feel a red flush rush to my face, and I said a silent prayer that the sweet, young cashier hadn’t understood what he said.
“Because I have three little boys of my own!” she replied. Though she still smiled cheerfully, I knew that his question stung. He didn’t stop there;
“But why did that make your belly get that big?”
“Because I had to grow the babies there,” she replied, a smile still on her face.
Oh. My. Gosh. In that moment, if I could have crawled in a hole and stayed there for the rest of the day, I would have. I leaned down and told Sully to hush and stop asking questions. The cashier looked at me and said, “It’s okay. He doesn’t bother me. He’s just being a kid. It’s the adults that really hurt.”
“I’m so sorry,” I stumbled. “He doesn’t really understand social boundaries yet…”
She nodded understandingly, and we finished the transaction quickly and in mostly silence.
As I got Sully in the car, I had a conversation with him. I explained to him that God made us all different and beautiful in different ways. I explained that it’s important to never comment on someone’s appearance unless you’re saying something nice and that asking questions isn’t appropriate. I tried to remind him of his feelings and how he doesn’t like it when someone hurts them. I told him that if he ever had questions, he was more than welcome to keep them to himself and ask me when we are alone, but it wasn’t nice to stare either.
He sat quietly in the back, looking out the window. When I was done talking, he turned and said,
“Mommy, I thought she was beautiful. I didn’t know it wasn’t nice to say her belly was big. She said she grew babies with it. I’m sorry I made her sad.”
And sometimes? The teaching moments come from little voices in the backseat instead of me.