Saturday, January 2, 2010

Watch Where You Throw That Look

Nothing like the first post of the decade to set the tone for the year.

While this blog is based on the premise that I'm not afraid to use it, I wouldn't have need of this blog if that were actually true. As my kids get older and become cognitive of the actions and reactions of strangers around them, I am finding myself faced with the prospect of put up or shut up. Teach my kids right and wrong through my own example. Which leads us to Christmas Mass.

We attended Christmas Mass with my parents, and I was already irked by the homily of the priest. I don't find Christmas morning the time for hellfire and brimstone, but that's my personal opinion. We were mostly busy keeping the kids in the pew, looking at their books, and having them use their "inside voices". Now, I would be honest if my kids were acting like assholes and kicking the seat in front of them or banging the kneelers, but they weren't. With quiet encouragement, they stood when it was time to stand, and all that other Catholic jazz.

In other words, we were on our kids like white on rice.

Then, came the blessing of the bread and wine. And with typical three-year old timing, LittleMan asked me a question when there was not a peep from anyone in the church. He didn't shout. He didn't whine. He asked a question in a normal voice. I shushed him, told him this was a very important part, and that he would have to ask me later. At which point the lady in front of us threw us a nasty look over her shoulder.

Really? Bitch in the Santa sweater? I am disciplining my child, and you are going to throw an ugly face at us? During Christmas Mass? Wouldn't a prayer or positive thoughts be a little more helpful? I thought my head was going to explode.

I struggled with what to do. I think the fact that it was Christmas was what tipped me over the edge. I decided when we shook hands for the Peace Be With You that I was going to give her a piece alright. Turns out, she never turned around to shake our hands or wish us Merry Christmas.

At this point, I turned to my mother, who was standing next to me, and in a hushed voice told her how awful the woman in front of us was. How Christ wouldn't throw dirty looks at kids, and it was Christmas for Christssake and went totally biblical on her. Now, I am certainly not the person to quote scripture or play the Bible card, but I was on a roll. Ten years of Catholic school makes for lots of ammunition when needed. My tirade probably only lasted 20 seconds, but I saw the woman's tween snicker and roll her eyes. Hmmm. I had not intended to be overheard, but maybe I had been.

Mass ended, and my family filed out. I stayed. I was going to wait this lady out and let her know her behaviour was unacceptable. By this point, I was not angry. I was calm, collected, and wanted to let this woman know that what she had done was not very kind. I have never done anything like this in my life, but put up or shut up. Right? My mom tried to shove me out of the pew, but I told her I would meet her outside. She got all teary-eyed and left me there.

The lady in the Santa sweater? She stayed in her pew and chatted with a friend in front of her. Chatted and chatted. For nearly ten minutes. She stood there, I stood behind her. Her Ghost of Christmas Future. As they finally wrapped up their conversation, she reached for her coat which was directly in front of me.

Excuse me? Ma'am? I asked.

She turned away from me and walked down the long length of the pew, rather than walk in front of me.

I began to walk down the length of the pew after her, Excuse me? Ma'am?

She started walking towards the entrance, whirled and spat Merry Christmas! back at me.

Now, I have to admit that at this point I was starting to smirk a bit. She had obviously overheard me when I spoke to my mom and was trying to beat a hasty retreat. At this point, I totally had to go there. As she hustled her butt towards the exit I called after her Yes! Merry Christmas! I'll pray for you!

Oh yeah. I totally threw the prayer card.

So, was it worth it? I didn't get to express myself the way I wanted, but the message was obviously taken. Don't throw nasty looks in church. I'd bet she thinks twice about doing that again.

It's a good lesson for me, too. Compassion is way more helpful than condemnation. I have been bad about that in the past, but 2010 is going to be all about giving that sympathetic look. It that doesn't work? If your ire is directed at me, be prepared to take responsibility.


A Free Man said...

Good on you. I hate those kind of passive aggressive dirty looks. I've always WANTED to do what you did!

Jennifer said...

I like you.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

@AFM: Thank you! I am such a behind-the-scenes after-the-fact bitcher that it felt nice to do something in the moment.

@Jennifer: Thanks! I don't know if that lady would agree with you. LOL

Patois42 said...

Good for you. I can't believe the lengths she went to in order to avoid you. Holy moly!

Blue Momma said...

And this is why I loved you! You seriously need to move here and hang out with me and mine in real life. You rock chica!

KJ said...

Good for you. That is usin' it.