Are you sure there are only 2 people in your pants?

When I was in the first grade I had a teacher named Mrs.Bowen. Mrs. Bowen was the Maria Von Trapp of Lockwood Elementary School, and indeed, my childhood. (Except for the part where Maria dances with the Baron Von Trapp and then marries the Baron Von Trapp because: a. my dad was in a big, heavy, electric wheelchair that no girl would want running over her toes during the Viennese Waltz - trust me I know, and b. my dad was already married to my mom, and she is not a girl to be tangled with.) We did, however, do a lot of singing in Mrs. Bowen's first grade class - mostly folk music and patriotic tunes and the occasional seasonal songs about Santa's shaky belly or Easter bonnets or pumpkins sitting on a fence. Also, (and I liked this a lot) she gave us a package of Smarties when we got perfect grades on our spelling tests... which I did every time we had a spelling test... except once. I cried.

The best thing that I remember about Mrs.Bowen though, was that she knew how to pronounce my name on the first day of school. Without my help. Now for all of you Amys and Jennifers and Sarahs out there, I'm guessing that this would not be all that impressive. I, on the other hand, was used to spelling my name out and having my mother break it down syllable by syllable into easily understood phonics so that people could stop trying to fancy it up. (My mom still does this by the way: "It's End, like the end of a sentence, Re, like to redo something. Endre.") I'm still not sure why people have such a hard time with my name, but Mrs. Bowen didn't and she is still one of my favorite people ever.

Now that I'm an adult I think that what Mrs. Bowen did by finding out from someone how to pronounce my name- (I found out later that she had asked around to see if anyone knew my family and thus might be able to give her a clue. Another teacher at the school did)-was just good manners. What it said to me at age 5 was , "My teacher is so cool". What it says to me now is "Hey kid, I know you're only 5 and I've got 24 other names to learn, but I'm choosing to make you feel good about yourself today." It boils down to this - people with good manners try to make everyone around them feel as comfortable as possible. All the people around them. Even the pregnant ones.

That's right. Shocking as it may seem, pregnant woman are not interested in being insulted every time they leave their homes. Commentary on the size, shape or volume of a pregnant woman's body is not an acceptable social greeting. Conjecture about whether or not she might "explode right now" is never something in which a pregnant woman wishes to engage. Convincing you that she is not carrying twins or that she has not miscalculated her due date by several months is not her job. Although, based on my experience as a pregnant woman, it appears that this is not common knowledge as I have actually been asked, all of the following:

1. Could you possibly get any bigger? (Check back in 1 month. Oh, and shut up.)
2. You sure got big fast, huh? (Yep, yep, I did. Oh, and shut up.)
3. Are you having triplets? (Triplets. Seriously lady? You went right to triplets?)
4. You're due when? Oh, you'll never make it. You're too big. (Just "shut up" with this one.)
5. Maybe you should jump on a trampoline to get things moving. (Good idea. You must be some kind of famous doctor or something. Maybe I'll try that in 4 months when I'm actually due. Or not.)
6. Are you okay? You just look tired all the time. (Fantastic, I guess I'll apply more moisturizer, oh, and shut up.)

The amazing thing is, that when I, the pregnant woman, attempt to defend myself by saying things like "well thanks for that", or "wow, that was super nice to hear" the person that originated the rudeness acts like "oh, was that offensive?" or "her hormones can talk too, how cute". Apparently these people think that my job is not only to be life support for someone I've yet to meet, (and I can only hope that I'll get along with), but also to gracefully accept the verbal abuse that the men -and worst of all, woman (c'mon girls - really?) see fit to inflict upon me.

Well, no more I say. In the spirit of Mrs. Bowen I am launching a campaign to educate people one at a time about how to behave properly around a pregnant woman, large or small. When people say things to me because I am pregnant (and yes, very large - I do own a mirror folks) that they would say to no one else, I am going to respond "Think about what you just said. (Dramatic pause while they are thinking). Now, try again." Maybe this will remind people to use their grown up manners, and not those of the mean 13 year old girl that even her friends secretly hated. Maybe this will encourage even the most verbally clutzy among us to help pregnant women feel good about themselves during a time when that's not so easy. Maybe, they will never speak before thinking "would I like to hear this" again. And maybe, if they are very sorry, and they tell me that I am the most radiant vessel of life ever, I will give them their very own package of Smarties. Maybe.

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The Laundry Queen said...

Oh, yeah. Love those. When I was pregnant with my last, I got very big and carried VERY low, thus garnering me some sweet comments-- "I think you're sitting on the baby's head" or "Can you even close your legs?" or "How do you walk with that hanging down there?" Such fond memories.

Rachael said...

I love your writing. It's always very honest and easy to relate too.

grammy said...

Just remember that once all of the insults are gone, because the sweet baby has emerged, you WILL have to deal with the people who wonder if you're still pregnant. That was my favorite!!! I love Mrs. Bowen as well; no more teachers in the world like her. I don't think you look like you're going to explode any minute...

Carter Family said...

So true!!! I was a puker! Puked everyday of all 5 preganancies... it took it's toll... I didn't need anyone to remind me that all the blood vessels in my face had exploded from continuous vomiting... but, nonetheless... I got quite a few reminders...stares... and so forth! REally people! So I say, educate away, who knows if it will make a difference, but at least we can try! :) BTW... congrats on another boy! Boys really do rock... not nearly as moody as girls! :)

Amy Jo said...

I am at home in bed, sick, and it made my whole morning to find a blog post that had the ability to make me not think about how crappy I currently feel. Joe and I love a good Endre blog post! We still think you should have your own newspaper column somewhere!

Happy Holmes said...

I could have so used this post last month when I was greeted on the steps of my job with; "Wow! You're really getting out there." Um, thanks? I called her jerk face behind her back the rest of the school year!

Ps.. I do own a mirror and the fact that I still go out in public looking like this should count for something, right?

Janell said...

Hi. You have a great blog it was really fun to read. I didnt get a lot of comments when i was prego but i hated that eveyone wanted to touch my stomach that drove me crazy. You also have some really cute kids. I have only one so far and he is about to be 9 months.

Nika, Travis, Ayda and Zander said...

If I have said it once I have said it 100 times..people are stupid. They don't think about the words coming out of their mouth... amazing.

carmar76 said...

I like the thought of making ppl pause after they've said something rude. Why should it be our responsibility - as the one being spoken to rudely - to make everyone feel better about it? Laughing off rude comments, or behavior, just encourages it. Perhaps gently reminding them of how ppl should speak to each other will alleviate any embarassment and educate on politeness as well. : )

It's a hope, anyway! Keep up the good work!

Todd said...

yeah, i've never had a baby, pregnant wife, in fact i barely remember having a pregnant mother. this aside, I was laughing hysterically at this and i'll have to show it to my wife. she shares a lot of the "women are a lot more bad a$$ than you think and let me show you why" mentality you possess and I think it's pretty rad. and be sure i'm taking notes of this in the process.