There are some assumptions you should never make. You should always err on the side of youth when discussing children- for example, it is best to refer to someone's chlldren rather than their GRANDCHILDREN. Additionally, no matter how obvious it is that a woman is pregnant, under no circumstances should you believe or act as if she is with child, unless she mentions it.
About ten years ago on Fourth of July my dear friend Rick invited me to his parent's place for their annual celebration. This was a lovely soiree with food, cocktails and a huge firework display at their weekend farm home. Aside from Rick and his two kids, I did not know a soul there, so on the way to the party I asked Rick to give me the low down on the invited guests. He was gracious enough to describe the friends and relatives, he explained that the next door neighbors from the city were coming and one couple is going through a very nasty, messy and gawd awful divorce, while the other side is expecting their first baby in the Fall. I was relieved to hear about the other folks and felt like I was armed with enough background to hold a conversation and make a nice impression. The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass Rick or his family.
Fast forward to the picnic style buffet. As the flames were grilling brats and burgers, I mingled and enjoyed all the patriotic themed affair. I met tons of new people and was having a blast. I stood next to a nice lady as we watched the all the kids spitting watermelon seeds. She introduced herself as "blah blah blah" and then said, I live next door to the Goetz's in Brookside. Without hesitation I knew she must have been the neighbor expecting a baby in the Fall because, she was clearly about 6 months along and Rick had already confirmed her pregnancy to me. I said, "Oh, how exciting to be expecting a baby this Fall, do you know if it is a boy or girl?" As if the world came to a screeching halt and as laser death rays came shooting out of her eyes, she hissed, "I'm the fat neighbor going through the divorce, I am not pregnant!" OUCH. Lesson learned. Duly noted. This moment is permanently burned on my brain. Since then I have never, ever assumed a woman is pregnant unless she herself confirms it. Not even in the waiting room of the high risk OB's office, not again, NEVER.
This same sense of judgement should be used with children. Lately, people like Jeff and me are waiting to start their families. Moms and dads are naturally older than they used to be, and it is more and more common to establish yourself in a career and marriage before adding children to the mix. This brings me to the next no no- Never assume someone is with their grandchildren unless they admit the role of grandparent. Always, choose to flatter the adult by thinking younger and calling them a parent- if they are the grandparent, they will happily correct you and be thrilled, The opposite situation is a dead end in the conversation and may cost you the sale.
Not long ago, Jeff was sitting in his office when a sales rep cold called him about copy machines. The guy saw all the photos of our children on the wall and pointed out Jeff's screen saver (which one of the photographs at the top of this blog). The salesman told Jeff he had adorable looking GRANDCHILDREN. Needless to say, Jeff did not buy a copier from him.
We recently used a valet parking service at the airport. The company provides a driver to shuttle you to the terminal in your own vehicle. It is an awesome concept where you do not have to shift luggage on to a bus, but rather, get dropped off and picked up at the curb as if a friend was taking you in your own car. On the most recent experience the valet got in the backseat of Jeff's car, and had to move a few items around in order to sit back there. He said the dreaded. "You must have grandchildren like I do." Uhhhh, nope, just the regular kind of children.
I know this touched a nerve with Jeff since he just celebrated his birthday. Next year my husband gets the added benefit of senior discounts at the movies and at Marriott hotels. These are the perks of being his age. The bummer is that he is often confused as the grandparent not the parent. In all fairness, Jeff looks and acts young. I would be more apt to think he was pregnant than a grandparent based solely on appearances. (kidding honey)
I guess my point is this: Be careful with your choice of words. I learned the hard way and will never forget that moment on July 4th. I am sure that my husband is painfully aware that he is an older dad- although he does not care. He loves this second change at raising kids. His life is never boring and quiet. Is it upsetting to hear that he looks like he is old enough to be confused for the grandfather...sure. If you learn anything at all from reading this rant, just be cautious with calling people pregnant or old.
My little vent is done now. I am hoping to educate the population one reader at a time. Thanks and pass it on.
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