Last night Tom and I went to the Boston Tree lighting event with my husband and mum. It was fun, we had a good time, and Tom was great (he finds such adventures challenging and fun). He was prancing around the house antsy antsy all afternoon once he realized we’d be going out.
But the ‘social apologies’ for lack of better term that some of my family members engage in bug me. Really bug me. My coping skills so far over the years have been attempting to talk to my family about (successful with some of them, less so with others), ignoring it when they do it, and avoiding situations where it is likely to happen with them. But sometimes I forget about their tendencies, and sometimes I want to enjoy a fun activity with the people I care about.
What exactly are social apologies? Well, let me give you a couple of examples from last evening.
We are leaving the event at the Boston Common and making our way through the blocks to the train station with the crowds. The sidewalks are packed and Tom is doing an excellent job of weaving me in and out around people, stopping for curbs, navigating, listening to my cues, etc. And as we go I can hear my mum apologizing to no one in particular, just a running “Oh so sorry, he’s just guiding her through, no problem.” Yea, it’s not a problem because he’s doing a great job and no one in this crowd is even realizing he’s there until she started talking about him being there! Then because she is doing this, people in the crowd start to move in erratic ways to ‘avoid’ us completely unnecessarily making Tom’s job all the harder. And now making problems happen! Like the lady who stopped dead in front of us and then stands there blocking our way apologizing for being in the way. Lady stop talking and just MOVE or stay still so we can move around you, please. As my mum was doing this I remembered why I tend to not invite her to such crowded in town events with us.
Or that the fact Tom and I wait for my assessment of traffic and then forward at every crossing is really really stressful for my husband. Because you know when we do that someone in a car might have to wait an extra few seconds and that would be an awful inconvenience for them don’t you know. (that’s me writing in sarcasm in case it wasn’t clear). In suburbia where there aren’t in his view ‘people waiting’ very often he doesn’t fuss about it so much (plus reality is he just doesn’t go on our walking routes with us all that much, hence avoiding the issue), but last night with the crowds and traffic of the city it rears it’s ugly head. He starts in with “We have the light, it’s safe, let’s go, come on, people are waiting for you, you have the light!” pressure, as I wait and listen. Then I hear the car turn in through the crosswalk and the people around us gasp as another pedestrian is narrowly avoided, so no it wasn’t safe, glad I didn’t give to his pressure and go! 2 crossings later, he’s doing it again though. I love my spouse to pieces, but his perception of social pressures thing is sometimes really stressful, especially when it comes at the potential risk of my safety in traffic.
To be clear in these situations, I ignore all that I’m being told by my family members and focus on what Tom and I need to do to stay safe, but I’d really wish they just didn’t do these things to start with as they are completely unnecessary and I get tired of talking to them about it time and time again. And tired of hearing their justifications that they are right, “Well someone was waiting for you to cross!” “SO WHAT?! They can wait another 5-10seconds it won’t kill them! Otherwise, they’d already be in an ambulance!” Or “Well I didn’t want someone to be startled when you and Tom passed them.” “WHO CARES?! That’s their problem, not mine or yours and 8 out of 10 people have no clue we’ve passed them until they are now following us, people just aren’t that observant and Tom is really good at what he does!” It’s like they forget the reality that every day when they aren’t around Tom and I go about our routes, routine, and lives without having yet been seriously injured (knock on wood) and without the general public trying to crucify us for perceived slights or rudeness, so Tom and I can probably still manage it when they are there too.
I know that these social things say more about their own anxiety and perceptions of people than about me, but still I find such rather frustrating. Because at the bottom of it what it feels like they are saying is that my safety and my right to be as unnoticed as I care to be aren’t as important as the random strangers around me.
On the positives of last night, Tom was a rock star, even when the unexpected fire works display when off from ground level about 20′ in front of us! As always I love this dog more than I ever thought was possible. And overall we all did have a good time, and I am glad I was able to go and share the festivities with my hubby and mum.