Friday, March 18, 2011

Holding Your Breath #3

A friend of ours has a very extroverted four-year-old who loves talking to people, even complete strangers.

“If you are in a store and mention that you can’t find something, he is suddenly on a crusade to ask everyone who looks like they might remotely work in that store if they can help you find said item,” says our friend. “He typically leads off with, ‘Excuse me, ma’am.’”

That’s great, isn’t it? A sweet, friendly, polite young child. Except there is a catch.

Some of the ma’ams are sirs.

That’s right—everyone, regardless of gender, gets the “ma’am” treatment.

“The group that generally takes the most offense are the teenage boys who work at the local grocery store,” she says. “I often wonder if this has to do with the fact they don’t really want to work at the grocery store.”

Luckily, most of the men don’t seem to mind. Our friend stays low-key about it, giving the sirs in question “my ‘sorry’ smile” and gently reminds her son that boys and men are, in fact, called “sir.”

That’s the way to do it—making an embarrassment a teachable moment, not a big deal.

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