Wednesday, September 10, 2008

School Year Resolutions

Something happened today at school that made me decide to make some big changes. I don't think they should wait till December 31st rolls around again.

This morning I was stopped by one of the Trendy Moms, (in the UK she'd definitely be a Yummy Mummy, complete with a really cool job) and while we were talking, another TM comes along, stands right in front of me and begins a brand new conversation, which didn't seem to include me. Most of the time mid-west Americans talk so fast that I never quite know whether I'm included or not because I miss the first half of the sentence, but the body language today suggested not. No "Excuse me", or "Can I just butt in" - nothing. Now, I'm 5'7" and of medium build so I'm nowhere near invisible and not that easy to talk over. TM #1 didn't even try to let Interruptor know that in fact, she might at least wait till I had finished my sentence. (Incidentally, what kind of lesson are they teaching their kids?)

Normally, I wait around with an embarrassed second-class citizen sort of smile on my face, patiently listening for a cue that their trendy talk is over. When it becomes clear that they aren't going to curtail their important conversation on my account, I usually start backing off and then pretend that I've seen someone else I need to speak to, or just get out my phone, (when I've remembered to bring it along). This morning however, I just walked off. I wasn't in a huff (actually I was rather seething inside but didn't want to appear petty), yet something came over me and I thought "No, not this time Missy!" I don't think they even noticed my departure though.

So this school year kicks off a new attitude by moi! No more pandering to the ridiculous social needs and insecurities of others. If you don't speak to me on a regular basis, don't come making nice on the odd occasion I've been on TV or radio, or you've read something I've written. I'm still the same fairly boring, somewhat strange English lady who rarely gets manicures, doesn't go to the trendy gym and can't really advance your social standing in this city. And if I have a party, I'm only inviting the people I like; not the people that I "should" invite or who might find out about it and be offended, many of whom never seem to have parties and certainly don't invite me. (I do realize that I'm at least half to blame for that situation.) If it's not a reciprocal relationship it's not a relationship!

What else? Oh yes, if your kids interrupt me when I'm talking to you, and you don't try to make them wait or say "Excuse me", I will simply stop the conversation and walk off as above. It's rude, it's teaching my kids appalling manners and if I condone it, I can't expect them to behave any differently. And besides, it really, really gets on my nerves!

Gosh, I feel so much better! I think I'm going to enjoy this school year!

24 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're making a stand! Although isn't there a chance that while in your head you are flouncing off, to the person you are talking to might just think you've allowed yourself to be walked over. Personally, when somebody does that to me, I say something to the interruptor along the lines of "I think you'll actually find that I was mid-conversation - I know your time is terribly precious, but if I can just finish what I was saying that would be great."

    Cue stony silence. But they don't do it again...!

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  2. The loud 'tut' that can sometimes be heard in Tunbridge Wells has travelled West - and about time too .... [tapping foot and *pouting* can be used in extremis]

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  3. Oh, how many times has this happened to me? Too many to mention. I do exactly that - I walk away. It's taken me a while to get used to the fact that this can happen. Like you I used to feel like a spare part and sort of loiter for a while, but I've learned to respect myself even if they don't. If you cut me off or allow me to be cut off like that, then you get less of my time in future. I believe it's called quiet confidence!

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  4. It's funny that you should write about this antisocial phenomenon, because I was just complaining (to a friend) about the same thing -- only on the English prep school playground!

    Apparently, bad manners are amongst the many things that the English/Americans have in common these days.

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  5. I'm glad you said that about children too. It drives me mad when their mummies let them take over the conversation. Okay so he's bleeding; he can't bleed to death in two minutes.


    There's a lady I know who has a habit of coming up when i'm talking to someone and saying, 'Do you mind if i just interrupt a minute?' and then goes on to interrupt without waiting for a reply and talks to the person I'm talking to, ignoring me.

    Ooh, don't get me started ...

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  6. I have to admit that I do a lot of interrupting (I'm pretty impatient!) and I do recognise that this is a bad habit the whole "maiden name" family has...but I do apologise and then let the people resume their conversation. At least I think I do...errm...(coughs nervously) errmm..I'd better think about this one and reflect for a while...(!)

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  7. Good for you for making a stand on this. I loved this post - and feel reassured am not the only one who feels this happens to.

    I never know if it's just because no-one is interested in my story so they welcome the interruption, or English Lady doesn;'t really register on their radar and isn't worthy of being in their Chit-Chat Gang.

    My son has a terrible habit of interrupting mummies constantly.(Husband says he gets it from me!!) It drives me nuts and we're always trying to get him to curb this. I have noticed though that I'm one of the few mums who does reprimand my child for such appalling manners.

    I've tagged you by the way, so come on over to my place and see...

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  8. Stand your ground, EPM - or rather, don't. Walk away - no matter how tempting it is to say something like: "How interesting! You know, in different circles that sort of thing would be considered quite rude..."

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  9. Gosh I've certainly struck a chord here.
    I wish I had the nerve to stand up as BOOW suggests, but I'm afraid I'm a bit of a wimp like that. Plus, I have to see these people every day. Plus that sort of directness doesn't go down as well in the mid-west.
    Hadriana - you kept apologizing for interupting on our night out, but weren't actually doing so. You must have curbed your habit but are still scarred by a lifetime of interrupting!

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  10. That sort is not worth bothering with, I'd expect she'd look right through you if you bumped into her at the shops! "Jealousy" is the word that springs to mind.

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  11. More power to ya, sweetie! Love the blog, by the way!

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  12. I love the idea of BOOW's tackling the situation head on and I am sure that is the best way of creating a possible change in the awareness of the rude crew....
    However, it is really tough to get the courage and confidence to do it. I find it easy professionally ( in fact I get paid to do it) but less so personally. Maybe making the point in a jokey way might be a half way house....
    I completely agree with only socialising with and inviting folk who you like and like you... I have learnt that lesson well and truly in the 'trendy mummy in the country' set... a truly terrify breed... ( four wheel drive, Emma Bridgewater and an aga a requirement).

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  13. Expatmum you are a little bit scary now. I am one who hates confrontation and would just sneak away without anyone noticing...
    I haven't come across this problem yet. Perhaps because I am so hilarious and witty? Or maybe it has more to do with the fact that I am only on day 5 at the school gates.

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  14. Oh. My. God. I could have written that post, word for word. Every last teeny tiny bit. You are SO SO right. Stuff 'em.

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  15. Ugh. I know the feeling but have got to a point now where I don't talk to people that I sense, even remotely, will diss me. I must admit I thought it was just the English who behaved like this. I'm secretly gratified to read that Americans can be just as rude!

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  16. Well since I thought it was an American thing, it must be just a certain TYPE. Anyway, I am at the point where there's not much point in pointing out their rudeness; it's ingrained behaviour which they obviously think is okay, but it's not with me. I do feel a certain sense of power in breaking away from the situation with dignity. Much better than telling them to stuff it in the long run!

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  17. It is a certain type, I agree. And there really isn't any point in pointing out bad behavior but the main thing is to avoid subjecting yourself to it again if you can. If your kid is best friends with their kid then it's hard but otherwise just give people like this a wide-berth and try not get get rattled.

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  18. Life's too short to tolerate rude people. Give 'em hell!;)

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  19. I get so tired of this, especially with the in-laws. It ticks me off no end that someone could think that because I said something that sparked their train of thought it is somehow much more important than my conversation - or - that they might forget what they were thinking in the one minute they would have to wait to tell their tale, so rather than wait, they pause until I take a breath in-between words.

    I think BOOW is right on the money. But well done you for taking a social stand. Life is too short not to surround yourself with people who buoy you up or think a lot of you.

    I think you've hit a raw nerve with MANY of us!

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  20. You go girl, as Oprah would say. It's rude, rude, rude and should not be tolerated. Especially when the kids do it! I've even had people hang up on me half way through phone calls because their child was asking for a biscuit or something...

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  21. As an American, who moved to the UK at age 11 and only moved back to the US last year at 29, I have to totally agree that most American mum's don't have a clue when it comes to manners. I have stood with the mums at playschool in the UK, and at the kindergarden bus stop here at the US and I have seen a huge discrepency in the manners they teach their kids (and have themselves!). Anyway, good for you!

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  22. Thank God for Courtney! Hey, epm, don't you ever get comments from born and bred Americans? You attract fellow expats like flies to a sticky paper (or something). You should start up a club (or something) out there!

    Good stuff, though. ;-)

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  23. I totally agree with you! You pull the strings.

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