Thursday, July 16, 2009

Handling Putdowns

First of all, what is a putdown? An insult or criticism, but could it just be an innocent comment that we misinterpret? It's a fine line we are treading here. Consider this experience I had a few days ago at the eye doctor's office with one of his assistants. A young girl (twenty something) kept calling me "dear." For some reason that always rubs me the wrong way. You wouldn't call someone your own age "dear." They would probably wonder what was wrong with you. But this girl/woman called me that at least twice. Each time I felt totally insulted, but controlled my urge to set her straight. Telling her that I may look old to her, but I am not 70 yet and won't be ready to be called "dear," "sweetie," or "honey" until I have one foot in a rest home, and I don't plan on doing that.

I had this conversation going on in my mind or what to say to her to NOT be insulting but to make her aware that her casual labeling of me with such endearing terms was not pleasing me. In fact, I'm sure my blood pressure went up several notches during the hour long exam and it wasn't from choosing "1" or "2" as my eyes were tested. I resisted the impulse to talk to the good eye doctor about my feelings as I wasn't sure how he would react or what he would say to me or his assistant. So I decided to just blog about it.

Why do we resist aging and want to be younger, slimmer, trimmer, and have face lifts, botox treatments and tummy lifts or color our gray away? Why can't we just accept ourselves as we are? Mature, rational, wise beings full of life's experiences. A SURVIVOR of all that life has given us and will give us. Remembering that none of us get out of this life alive. But labeled we are as "senior citizens," "elderly," "AARP members"-Association of American Retired People at age 50, etc. Living in an "active retirement community" where we are among the youngest has been a challenge for us but I have made some really great friends and been so impressed by the quality of people I have met. What's your feelings about aging as you watch your kids once youngsters move towards becoming middle age?

11 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

That dear thing drives me nuts. I had an uncle who lived in the nursing home, and he got the honey-sweetie-dear junk from the staff. As if he were a baby. Better to call him sir; his honorable life deserved the respect.

I had a minister who used to tell us to wear our age with confidence. "I worked hard for these wrinkles," he'd say. He was a kind man, and he had wonderful smile lines.

Jo, a retired teacher said...

I think the basic problem is what to call someone you really don't know. I've been a bit irked when wait staff at restaurants asks, "How are you guys?" Is "folks" better? If you don't know someone's name, what do you call them? Ma'am? Ms? Lady?

I am happy that I've managed to live to be 60, but I'd like to look as good as possible without drastic remodeling. I certainly don't want people to think I am older than I am.

Cheryl /Ashton said...

Yikes. Now that I have hit the 50s mark I look back and think how I used to think 50s were
old! However I've had to do some "re-thinking" on the age thing. I think I am settling in to life about now, getting some experience for the future. I like Sandy's "smile lines" comment, thats how I look at my face now, sort of a map of my life! I want more smile lines than frown lines! As for the "names", I just ignore them but I would never dream of using them on someone I didn't know.

gigihawaii said...

Haha! "Dear" doesn't bother me one bit. However, call me "stupid" and you will get an earful.

My neighbor likes to call me "aunty." I guess for him it's a term of respect, whereas "Glenda" would be too familiar. It's okay with me.

Kay said...

I had to smile at Gigi's comment. I've been called "Auntie" several times by salespeople, etc. in Hawaii and I get such a kick out of it. I can't remember being called "Dear" yet. I've been called "Sweetie" on the mainland or "Honey." I don't remember how I felt exactly.

Aging has been interesting and not always pleasant as my body parts have been getting rusty and sagging. My kids are jumping over the 30 mark and it's rather unnerving. My mother tells me often, "You're not a young girl anymore. You must be careful." I wonder how she feels about that.

kavita said...

In my country it is very common to address people as aunt,uncle,didi(elder sister),bhaiya(brother),bhabhi(sis-in-law),maji(mother),dada(elder brother....according to their age....all the unmarried girls from the gym i go call me aunty(sob)...but for most of youngster i am ba(elder sister).....

Jean said...

I remember the first time someone called me "ma'am," instead of "miss." I was devastated! I guess our problem is we feel young inside and assume the outside follows suit.

Deborah Godin said...

The first few times someone I didn't know called me one of these "familiar" names it felt a little awkward, but now I just think of them as really warm friendly people. I'd much rather have that than some cold or snarky person!

mom/caryn said...

I've never been offended when someone has been OVER friendly... I've been much more put off when they've been a tad too cool.

BUT, I remember a jeweler who had repaired a watch for my 80 year old mother referring to her as "sweetie" and "doll face". I was borderline enraged. I couldn't help myself, I told him that I'd appreciate his keeping the bar room banter and cutsie titles for the women he met or was served by in that environment. I asked that while addressing my mother, he did so with her name, Mrs. Theobald. I told him that she had lived her life as a high quality woman and deserved to be treated as such. He was very apologetic. My mother was mortified. Well... at least she acted like she was, but she had a gleam in her eye, and a grin that spread from California to Kansas. Her chest welled up with the knowledge that her daughter was willing to defend her honor. It was extremely offensive to me to have my mother talked down to in that manner. Me? Call me whatever... I don't care. Well... maybe the "dollface" thing would be crossing the line. Sounds like something you'd call a gun moll.

I don't see why we should be any more inclined to let extra pounds stay on our bodies, or give in to gray hair and yellowing teeth in the name of aging naturally, than we should be willing to let ourselves become satisfied with our level of knowledge and experience.

I don't think it's the nature of most of us to just accept ourselves the way we are... in any area. And I don't know that I think we should.

If a temple begins to decay, we don't just continue to do the work inside that it was built for. We re-model, re-inforce, repaint and do all we can to bring it to it's original splendor. Our bodies are temples, right?

Now, I'm not recommending, or even suggesting, a major surgical overhaul to anyones body...but, if someone chooses to follow that path, I'm okay with it.

That being said, I do think it should be a priority to care for oursevles, to be both mentally and physically as fit as we can possibly keep ourselves. And it is an absolute necessity to keep ourselves constantly growing and beautifying our spirits.

Truth? For me...I want to make it a goal to go to the grave with a resounding "WooHoo".
Both lookin and feelin good!

Mare said...

I guess in life you have to pick your battles. While it is annoying to be called 'dear' or something, i would recommend:"Call me Lin!" or forget about it.

Rambling Woods said...

I think that younger people need to be more respectful...Saying 'dear' isn't respectful as all. Good manners aren't taught anymore. Thank goodness my 30 year old daughter has good manners...