Apologising to the general public
Since becoming a mother, I began to notice that I say sorry a lot more then I used to. And so do other parents. We are constantly apologising to the general public.
It really struck me one day when I was waiting to use the toilet in a coffee shop. The door opened and two little boys came out, followed by their mother who instantly looked at me, did the side head tilt and said “I'm so sorry.”
I'd only been stood there one minute!
The next day I was in another coffee shop, again waiting for the toilet (I don’t have a bladder issue incidentally!) and after waiting 5 minutes, a rather large man in an ill-fitting suit emerged, grunted at me and walked off.
So why did the mother feel the need to say she was sorry?
I think that we do it without realising most the time, but here are some reasons I have derived from my personal experiences and that of friends:
- Children slow you down. Everything takes so much longer with children, so we assume that we are holding people up;
- Children are noisy, so we assume that we are disturbing people;
- Children don't like to sit still, so we assume we are disruptive, especially in coffee shops and restaurants. Not to mention a danger to old people, people carrying hot drinks and, well, people who don't like sudden movements;
- Children come with a lot of baggage, so we assume we are taking up a lot of space;
- Children say inappropriate things, so we worry we will insult people or cause them embarrassment (even though we are nearly always more embarrassed!);
- Children have no concept of other people’s space, so an apology is nearly always owed to the couple trying to have an intimate coffee with your child sat between them.
The list feels endless. So, to cover our backs, we say sorry. All the time, wherever we go. That way, maybe we reduce the risk of someone demanding an apology.