Am I Benjamin Button? Am I getting younger with each passing year? Have the constant jokes I have been making about me being child-sized actually turned me back into a child?
… Then what’s with all these grey hairs?
I have recently been lucky enough to have the title of “Little Miss Independent” bestowed upon me. What an honour. And why have I received such esteem? Because I was “caught” moving a box all by myself. Not just any box though. A completely empty one. Apparently I should have asked for help.
A while later I was in a conversation with someone (not my Nonna) who was telling me off because of course I don’t eat enough. After being chastised for what felt like an eternity, I was forced to show this person my empty lunch box to prove that I had eaten. Actually if I’m honest, I did it in the hope that they would go away.
Needless to say, this kind of thing drives me up the wall. It does make an awesome story though and so I tell these stories far and wide. People are very generous with their sympathy. They frown, gasp or shake their head then they tell me not to worry because; I am such “A Good Girl.” If I’m lucky sometimes they might even throw in a pat on the head for good measure. Hmmm.
According to the dictionary, the word “patronize” means to treat someone with apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority. Interestingly though the veneer of kindness makes it almost impossible to rebuke the patronizing act. This is because often the person doing the patronizing thinks they are actually helping. Meanwhile, the person being “helped” thinks that they’re being a pain in the arse. I probably wouldn’t tell you that though. Ironically I wouldn’t want to offend anyone.
If you offer to help me (I recommend you do always ask first) and I accept, you are in fact helping and thus being kind. If you offer to help me and I decline but you do it anyway, that is being patronizing. The fact that you believe you could do it more easily, faster or more effectively is irrelevant. Further, saying no thank you to an offer of help is not me being ungrateful so there is no need to be offended. At the risk of sounding like a broken record; just because you think I’m struggling doesn’t mean that I actually am.
Your Mum has probably taught you that if you can’t say something nice then you shouldn’t say anything at all. I totally agree but for goodness sake don’t go overboard. Some people have the compulsion to fill every silence. When they have exhausted all the usual conversational staples such as the weather, they begin to panic and out come the compliments.
The more they’re uttered the less sincere they seem. There is no need to tell an aesthetically challenged person how pretty they are, a robust person that they’re skinny or a bald person that they have a cool haircut if you don’t really believe it. It is very patronising and really, you are not fooling anyone.
Remember, sometimes silence is golden!