By Anoushka Beazley, Nov 20 2016 09:06PM
When my friend arrived at my house for our lunch date she was not her usual bright and bubbly self. When the cacophony, my three girls besides themselves with excitement that someone had rung the doorbell (I didn’t state the obvious, that this is the correct and only way to use a doorbell so what’s the big deal), she confided in a quiet voice that she had experienced an incident in the playground.
She had approached a trio of mothers who were known to her, one of whom she’d consider a friend, who were talking about ‘stars’ being given by the teacher to the kids. My friend announced to the group, ‘Oh yes, my son’s been given a star.’ Cue sniggering. Not giggling, not howling but hands over the mouths, eyes darting quickly between each other, old school sniggering.
‘What’s so funny?’ my friend asks. No response. She asks again. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ says leader-mother dismissively.
We know something about you which you don’t know that makes us laugh.
‘Don’t worry about it?’ My friend asks, confused. Cue eye roll from minion-mother, awkward head down from friend-mother.
‘No, really, please, tell me?’ As my friend re-tells the story tears spring to her eyes. She says that at this point she is feeling small, like a child herself who has asked to play with the other girls only to be laughed at.
‘The stars aren’t rewards. They’re for children who are having difficulties at school.’ Wow! So I have two immediate thoughts. First, that’s just mean. Why would you laugh at a kid or anyone who is finding something difficult? And second, just when you think maybe it’s a level playing field because you’ve all pushed a tiny human out of an even tinier hole…and you’re now all trying really hard to do a job you’re wondering if you are actually qualified for (similar thoughts had by Donald Trump I imagine), it appears that one little playground conversation can have my dear friend in floods of tears. Now I am crying by osmosis and my friend and I are explaining to my three bewildered girls that, although we may be wired that way, we need to fight the urge to be mean to the other girls. Fight the urge ladies. Or rather, recognise it first, then fight it.
Notes from a Writers Handbook