There is an etiquette to standing in an elevator. You enter the elevator, half nod at anyone who may already be in there, press your button and turn to face the door. After the aforementioned head nod, further social interaction is no longer necessary or in good taste. You point your torso forward, pick a random spot on the wall and pretend it’s interesting. You could end up in the exact same waiting room, meeting or convention as your co-passengers but while that metal box is ascending and descending, and they are standing a foot away, they are dead to you.
Then you pour out of this receptacle of silence and all degrees of basic social interaction come back into play. Yet, some people have never really leave the elevator do they?
Some are meandering through public places, weaving through social settings with no acknowledgement of those around them. You may even find this type in your local parks, schools, and waiting rooms possibly wearing capris and sensible shoes. I’m talking to you ‘Snubby Mom‘, on a mission to avoid all social interaction for herself and her children.
Here are some tell-tale signs that you might be a Snubby Mom:
1. Once I get to the swings, you’re already halfway into a sales pitch to get your kid to go try the slide, or that giant rock, or any other locale away from the one that we are intruding upon
2. Even if circumstances position us both at eye level and we are sharing the same dozen oxygen molecules back and forth you keep your eyes averted from any potential gaze lock
3. You grab your child’s hands and hover over your kid to keep them from any possible physical contact or socializing with mine
4. You only acknowledge me as ‘that kid’s mommy’, all the while still avoiding eye contact and direct recognition of my presence
5. You start a conversation with any member of your family who is within earshot, even the sleeping four month old in the stroller, and start reciting your need to get going and accomplish the remaining vital errands for the day
All of these techniques used to avoid a possible verbal interface, while being polite. It’s not polite. You are a Snubby Mom.
I have no issues if you don’t want your kid to play with mine. I know my kids aren’t perfect. I can’t explain why my one year old is constantly asking for bananas and my two year old is trying to make his sister wear a random shoe like a hat. But my mom-bias still thinks my kids make great friends and your kid is missing out.
You follow your kids’ lead and won’t acknowledge me either. That okay because you’ve saved me awkward small talk and having to explain why there is pee on my shoe and Bailey’s in my coffee cup that morning.
I do wonder though, what kind of world we are creating for our children when we prevent them from engaging in everyday interactions with unfamiliar people? During these fleeting moments of opportunity when we are there with them, when they still think everyone in the world is a potential playmate and when their confidence and curiosity is at its apex, we should encourage them. They aren’t like adults, they aren’t worried that their shirt is stained, their shoes are dorky, or how they come across when they talk about sleep training.
We all came here to play, so let’s not bounce around in our bubbles avoiding one another. Even a head nod and smile is enough for me to offer to share some of the smushed banana muffins I just found in the bottom of my purse. Then we can just sit in silence while I yell random canned praises and orders at my kids. Or we could chat; we obviously have some things in common to be sharing this space and time.
Instead you are navigating this public place hoping you won’t have to socialize with anyone. Your aversion techniques illustrate to them that basic human contact should make them uncomfortable. There are no potential friends among all this unfamiliarity. There is no community beyond the one that has already been created for them.
It doesn’t have to be with my kids and me, but take those redirecting hands off their shoulders and let them say things like ‘what’s your name?’ Sip your coffee on the bench with another mom while your kid get skilled in the art of navigating their tiny society of noise makers and dirt wranglers. Getting an introduction on making and being a friend, when to walk away from the mean ones, when to giggle and share with the good ones.
Who knows, maybe we could be mom friends too? I will share my Baileys with you. Then, if you are in the mood for sandwiches cut in geometric shapes, lunch is served at noon at my house.
And if we become really good friends, you’ll be able to tell, because my kids will mark their territory and pee on your shoe too.