Some people are just mean. Somehow I’m always surprised when someone says something mean or snarky or insulting to me, especially when it’s a stranger. Going out during the day with three kids in tow does open up a lot of questions, and really, most of the time people are friendly and curious. Some will ask how old all of the kids are. Some will just talk to the baby. Most will ask why the kids aren’t in school.
These people–the friendly grocery store clerks, the nice ladies at the department store, the sweet librarians–are truly curious. I’m almost always happy to stop for a moment and chat. I don’t mind explaining how and why we homeschool. I’m glad to answer questions, especially when someone is showing a true interest. But then there are those people who only speak out of judgment or hatefulness, or just plain rudeness. Like the judgey mom at the park today, who was happy to tell me my baby was too small, too dumb, and would probably never match up to her super amazing toddler. Like the guy at the store who says he doesn’t understand how “people like me get away with homeschooling.” Like the pushy store employee who wants to know why we have such a large age gap in our kids.
It baffles me how quick others are to judge and how they don’t mind being incredibly rude and blatant about it.
Thinking about this has bothered me all day, and not just because of the lady at the park. I’ve had my feelings hurt more times than I care to admit in the past year or so. I think part of the problem is that our society has become so quick to judge. There seem to be expectations in all areas, from homeschooling to family size to parenting decisions to youth sports to fill-in-the-blank. Expectations are everywhere and all areas of our lives are up for critique, even from complete strangers. If you’re at all out of the norm in any area, others are happy to point it out.
Social media and technology play a huge role, too, because it’s much easier to type something rude than say it to someone’s face, and since our lives are pretty much documented down to the minute, people get the feeling they know more about each other than they really do. Outward appearances can be so deceiving and placing too much stock in them can be hurtful and unfair. So often, people are quick to criticize beliefs and values that don’t line up with their own instead of trying to understand the other point of view.
I’m certainly guilty of this, at least in my head. I’m working on that. But at least I don’t say it out loud.