Last night, while Mr_Beani was getting ready to do battle with the dinner mess scattered around the kitchen (he was up to stage one: eat the leftovers while stacking the dishes ready for washing) and I was untangling the cords to pull the blinds down, there was a knock at the door. Waiting on the doorstep was a woman with a laptop bag and a folder, who had come to give us a demonstration of a maths tutoring program.
It turns out that Mr_Beani had been drawn to the shiny balloons on a stand at the shops, and signed us up for this a few weeks ago. They had told him that it would be a short, half an hour or so chat, half of which would be assessing Middle Bean’s maths skills and the other half would be talking to us.
“There’s no pressure,” he assured me. “It won’t take long.”
They never ‘just’ give you a balloon if they can help it. Those balloons are bait. I've also been tricked into sitting through a couple of Amway “we’re not a pyramid scheme” product pitches, so I know not to give out your contact details if there is even a whiff of ‘coming over to talk’ from them. But alas, I wasn't there and he was (teach me to let him out alone).
Anyway, after the kids were introduced to her, things pretty much went downhill. I was sort of just behind them and she turned to me and said ‘Oh, and another on the way then?”
“No,” I replied, my smile firmly in place.
“Ah, it’s just that your stomach sort of …”
And stupid stupid me, I cut her off and tried to help her out of the hole she had dug. “Ah ha ha, no, it’s just fat sorry,” I laughed.
“Yes, well, we can’t all be super models can we?” she said.
And I let her stay. Why? WHY? I just smiled and went into polite mode. And for the whole TWO HOURS I was half listening to her, half thinking fat fat fat fat and half thinking why did you help her out? Why are you being polite? Why didn't you say something to her about her appalling rudeness? (See? We don’t need no stinking maths help here.)
I know why I didn't. Because it wasn't said to be rude. Because it isn't the first time someone has asked me or congratulated me when I’m not even pregnant. And every time I tell them I’m not, I’m embarrassed, they’re embarrassed, and I try to help them out. To show I don’t care (when I do). To show it’s an easy mistake to make (when I’m humiliated).
What makes it worse is that I would never ever ask about a baby unless the woman was in labour right in front of me, which makes me think that I must look so pregnant that they feel confident in saying or asking. And then I think for every person who asks me, there must be loads who wonder but don’t. And what if that’s a topic of conversation for those close enough to know me? What if they all sit about saying “when do you think Emmatini_Beani is going to announce the happy news?” or “God, I hope I don’t still look pregnant like that after my babies!”?
To be honest, I am overweight, but three ten pound + babies have left me with diastasis recti, so my stomach does sit out like a muffin top from my pants, and it is disproportionately sticky outy to the rest of me. I know this, and am working on it. But to be reminded of it when out walking the dog, or by math program women in my own home is awful. It makes me want to go hide in giant tee-shirts and tracksuit pants in a shady corner of the lounge. At other times, it makes me feel militant and vow to say something horrible back to people like “No, I’m actually infertile, but thanks for reminding me”, or “No, why do you ask?” while staring at them as they scramble for a polite escape.
See? The next day, and I’m still consumed by it. And angry that it hurt me so much. Why do I care what complete strangers think of the way I look? I don’t usually – until they make a point to tell me. And so I’m wondering, what is it about me that encourages said strangers to say things like that to me?
Is it just me, or does this sort of thing happen to other people?
There were lots of ethical, philosophical and financial reasons why we didn't buy the program from her in the end, but the main one can be explained by the following simple mathematical equation:
Commenting on someone’s fatness within minutes of coming in the door + boring people for two hours while studiously following your PowerPoint presentation and reading aloud what we can read for ourselves on the screen = no sale for you Maths Lady.
Pity her program didn't have that one in there.