These three stories illustrate why you should never make assumptions about people—especially parents—based on what you see or hear.
1) “The SuperSized Coke and a Pack of Smokes”
When the kids were younger, I took them to morning swim lessons at our local pool. One morning, while getting out of the car, I noticed a large McDonald’s soda cup and an empty cigarette pack that someone had left next to our parking space.
Being a decent citizen and wanting to be a good example for my children, I picked up the trash and carried it across the parking lot to the garbage can.
About halfway there, I realized what I must have looked like. Here I was at 9:00 in the morning, three little kids in tow, carrying a supersized McDonald’s soda and a cigarette pack from my car.
Wowsers. In truth, I’m more of a kale smoothie and organic coffee at 9:00 a.m. kind of gal, but you would never have guessed if you’d seen me that morning.
2) “I’m Sorry, It Smells Like WHAT in Here?”
Our daughter has played the violin since she was six, and for years we frequented a repair shop called Seman Violins.
Yes, Seman. Pronounced just like it looks. Mmm hmm.
If you’ve never been inside a violin repair shop, they have a somewhat distinct smell. Not a bad smell, just noticeable—wood, varnish, glue, etc.
So, one day, our family was visiting Abraham Lincoln’s historic home in Springfield, IL. Before the tour, we met the guide and other tourists in a refurbished old building across the street.
If you’ve never been inside a refurbished old building, they tend to smell a lot like wood and varnish. (Can you see where this is going?)
We walked through the front door, my 12-year-old daughter took one whiff and announced to me—and to the dozen or so other fine folks waiting for the tour—“Mom! It smells like Seman in here!”
Go ahead and say that out loud.
Oh, yes. She did.
I tried to rally with, “Oh, Seman VIOLINS? The VIOLIN SHOP? Yes, it does smell like a VIOLIN SHOP in here.” But I’m afraid I may have been too late to fully rectify the situation. Hilarious, but also a little mortifying.
3) “I’m Sorry, You Want to Drink WHAT?”
That same daughter went to visit a close family friend when she was six. At some point, her friend’s grandmother asked if she’d like anything to drink. Our wide-eyed, innocent little angel didn’t ask for water. She didn’t ask for milk or juice. She didn’t even ask for soda. No, she pulled out this little gem:
“Do you have any Bud Light?”
Bear in mind, we don’t drink. Like, at all. We also rarely watched commercial TV in the kids’ younger years. But somehow, probably from a billboard or seeing an ad once (that kid has a crazy memory), she thought perhaps a Bud Light would be a nice beverage to try.
Thankfully, we knew the grandma very well and she thought it was a riot. If she’d been at a new friend’s house . . . well, that would have been interesting.
We have to be careful about making assumptions, even when it seems logical to do so. I’m not a morning McD’s-drinking smoker, my 12-year-old had no idea what semen smells like, nor was she pounding back Bud Lights at age 6. But it would be easy to come to those conclusions based on the evidence in each of those stories.
This is why we don’t judge, folks. Things really aren’t always as they seem.
Or smell. (Sorry, had to.)
If you have a mortifying story that fits the “things aren’t always what they appear” category, please share!