Welcome To The Other Side

, , , , , , , , , , | Friendly | July 1, 2019

I am a nanny for a woman with chronic health issues. As a result of those issues, she doesn’t work, but most days she needs a lot of help with her children. On her worst days, she can’t even get out of bed, but on her better days, I’ll help her run errands or do fun things with the kids. To the casual observer, my interactions with the kids, whom I have been a primary caregiver to since infancy, are indistinguishable from their interactions with their mother. This leads to a lot of confusion as to who belongs to who when we go out, and the problem is only exacerbated by the fact that the children pronounce my name as “Ah-mee.” Obviously, most people see two women with kids who sound like they are calling them both “Mommy” and make a lot of assumptions. This is the story of a single, very long day. 

We spend the morning happily playing in the park, and the oldest child is practicing cartwheels and yelling, “Ah-mee, look at me!” while the little one tugs on my boss and says, “Mommy, snack, please!” I hear a disgusted snort from a nearby woman who begins yelling at us in a foreign language. She’s with a younger man who I assume is her grandson and he looks mortified, and says, “I’m so sorry, I’ll get her out of here! I’m so sorry! She’s just old! I’m so sorry!”

The man practically marches her away, muttering angrily to her, and it takes a few moments to guess at why the woman was yelling. The kids are a little spooked and confused, so my boss and I decide to get an early lunch. We go to a diner and, to our great surprise, our middle-aged waitress seats us and disappears, only to reappear, pointing at us and arguing with a younger waitress. I can’t hear the argument well, but I do manage to catch, “They’re in your section!” and, “You’re being ridiculous!”

Finally, the younger waitress comes over and makes a lame excuse for the other waitress, but it’s clear she’s furious with her coworker and she offers to comp our drinks “for the wait.” The whole time, our new waitress is attentive and polite and clearly going out of her way to make up for her coworker’s behavior. We end up leaving a 30% tip, partly because we love to imagine how put out the original waitress might be about losing out on a really good tip due to her own bigotry. 

Our last stop of the day is a makeup store where they clearly make the same assumption as everyone else that day, but rather than being jerks, they are overly attentive and condescending. Since we live in a very liberal area, this is something I’m a bit more used to when going out with the kids and my boss. Under normal circumstances, I barely notice the over-eager attention we sometimes garner, but after a whole day of bigots, it just feels like it’s more scrutiny. I’m also getting hyper-aware of the kids’ behavior, worried that any perceived flaws in my caregiving will reflect poorly on LGBT families. 

The saleswoman is talking to the older child, saying, “You have a pretty cool family there, pal!” and then actually winks at me. 

In hindsight, I could have used that opportunity to correct her assumption, but I was genuinely so exhausted at that point it didn’t even occur to me. 

Finally, our errands are done and I’m happy to put one of the longest days of my life behind me. Later that night at home, I make an online donation to an LGBT charity. I spent a whole day experiencing just a taste of what LGBT families must go through and it was exhausting. Please, everyone, don’t assume, and I can promise you that cooing and doting over “different” families only feels like condescension or pity and isn’t much more fun than other forms of prejudice. Just treat everybody the same!

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