“Mummy, I have to go!” my daughter pleaded again. Whenever we shop at this particular grocery store she always has to go. I’m certain it’s because the toilet is on the second level and we need to take an elevator to get there. I assumed she was just itching to push the “up” button so I took my time. Eventually I steered our cart over to the elevator and we got on, along with another mother and her son. I said hello and made a joke about “little girls who cry elevator wolf.” The mom’s blonde pony tail bounced as she turned her head to smile politely and she adjusted her Lulu Lemon running top.
As the door opened on the second floor and we stepped out, the Lulu Mom gasped, “Oh dear…”
It seems my child really did have to go. And she did. On the floor just a few steps from the washroom.
I quickly guided my daughter into the bathroom. While she sat on the toilet, apologizing for something that wasn’t at all her fault, I went back to the scene of the soiling and cleaned it up.
I saw Lulu Mom leaning over the railing, searching for somebody, someone I assumed to come to our aid. How nice.
I was wrong. She wasn’t looking for assistance. She was waving hello to a friend. How nice.
When her son was finished in the bathroom, off they went. No offer to help. Not even a “I’ve so been there.” nod of solidarity. Nuthin. Not nice.
Avery’s shorts had taken a hit, so I tossed them in the trash. This left me with a bottomless child. I had a change of clothes in the car, but how to get her there, bottomless? I was considering wrapping her in paper towel like a mummy when somebody entered the bathroom. It was the woman I had been so quick to judge earlier. She looked at my daughter, half dressed and I explained what had happened.
“I just bought some shorts for my son. They’re in my cart. I think they’d fit. Let me run and get them.” she said.
“Oh no, ” I answered quickly. “That’s okay. But thank you.”
“I can go to the children’s section and pick something up.” she offered.
“It’s okay, really. But thank you.” I said.
“Let me grab my husband’s sweatshirt,” she suggested. “She can wrap it around her waist.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t let you do that.”
“Puh-lease. She can have it. I’ve been trying to get rid of that ratty thing forever. You’d be doing me a favour.”
I felt horrible. What a sweet and compassionate person.
I tugged at my daughter’s top and was able to stretch it down below her cheeks.
“There are teens who wear skirts shorter than this!” I joked. “We’ll be alright.”
I thanked her again and escorted my go-go dancer daughter to the kids’ section where I found a skirt (super cute and on sale to boot) to put on. We finished our shopping and paid for the skirt on our way out, nobody the wiser about what had just happened.
Will I judge again? Of course, I’m only human. If you say you don’t judge, you’re wrong. We all make silent assessments of the people around us. Just because we think we have someone figured out, it doesn’t mean we do. We can’t let superficial first impressions affect the way we interact with others.
Well polished Lulu Mom was not polished at all. In fact, she was rough and prickly. Oh god, I just judged again. She was probably just late for her hot yoga class and had to drop her son off at his polo game. See? More baseless judgements. I clearly need to work on this.
The couple I had judged based on appearance turned out to be polished, shiny happy people even. They were helpful and compassionate and kindhearted. I judged them without knowing a thing about them and I am absolutely ashamed.
I learned an important lesson that day. Well, two.
1. When my daughter says she has to go, then for heaven’s sake, get a move on.
2. Appearances can be deceiving. It may be cliche, but it really is what is on the inside that counts.