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Monday, August 21, 2006

Embarrassment

From DAG:
I was the pizza shop the other night. A mother was on cell phone in front of the register flanked by her aunt and a 7 year old daughter. On the cell phone, mother dearest was yelling at what appeared to be another daughter.
You can't wear that. NO! (yelling) NO YOU WILL NOT WEAR THAT...OK FINE....EMBARRASS ME IN FRONT OF MY AUNT.
Mother dearest, don't worry about your daughter embarrassing you. You did a FINE job of doing that yourself.
Amen, DAG. Furthermore, these types of things have always bothered me. I can count about 5 different things the mother did wrong:
  • When you're at the register, you should not be on the phone, but paying your bill and getting out of the way to let other people pay theirs.
  • You should never be yelling on a cellphone in a restaurant, even a pizza shop - it's annoying to everyone around you.
  • What embarrasses "you" should not be the issue.
  • What's the problem with the clothes? *elaboration underneath
  • Why should someone feel embarrassed in front of their own aunt by their daughter's clothes?
  • What's the point she's making anyway, if the aunt is standing right there?
  • Yelling at one child in front of another like that doesn't seem wise, though this one is often unavoidable [except the yelling part].
  • Wonderful lesson to teach your children: It is far more important to dress a certain way than to act a certain way.
* If they're immodest, so say [nicely, quietly] that they're immodest and she shouldn't wear them.

But I'm more worried that they weren't immodest. If not, then what's the issue? They're not "fancy" enough? They're not "nice" enough? That they're a little too funky or not "frum" enough? Why is it that people are so obsessed with not only forcing extra "frumkeit" on people, especially their own children, but they're even more obsessed with showing off said frumkeit or money to everybody else - even their own family.

I'm honestly not sure what about this story bothers me the most: The mother acting irresponsibly, the mother teaching her children that dress is more important than anything else, that anyone can be so engrossed in their own little world, completely oblivious to everyone else... or worse, that the mother truly felt pressured to have her daughter dress a certain way to meet the mother's aunt. I'm curious if the aunt would ever bother to correct her niece, saying "Look - I love your children, I don't care if they wear fancy outfits or even if their clothes aren't the most modest. They are family, I love them anyway." Would she? Would you?

What kind of mentality are parents forcing on their children? How shallow can we be? Why does this mother get so embarrassed by her daughter not being 'just right', not fitting into a specific mold or expectation? Why is it that people send out information about themselves or their sons and daughters for shidduchim and feel compelled to include every single detail about the person's parents and siblings? Are they dating the parents or siblings? Does it matter what school the sister went to 6 years ago, or who the brother married, or that the younger kids are in a different school than the older ones went to?

Grow up, people. Stop trying to be who everyone wants you to be. Be yourselves. The people who care... don't matter. And the people who matter... don't care.

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