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.