“One of my first memories occurred when I was a three-year-old, sitting on my aunt’s lap.
“Excuse me,” I said politely.
She laughed so hard I bounced out of her seat. I was offended. Isn’t that what I was supposed to say?
Aunt Betty addressed my parents: “She is just the cutest thing.”
I was confused. I was standing right there, yet she talked about me as if I wasn’t.
Plus, was I a “thing”?
But I did enjoy the attention, so for a while I tried to be “the cutest thing,” which meant being a good girl, curtseying and smiling and twirling. Before too long, though, I found saying “Excuse me” quite boring.
However, as I grew older, I began excusing myself a lot.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get that math problem.”
“Excuse me but no, I don’t want to go out on a second date.”
“Forgive me, but you just gave me the worst haircut in my life.”
“I’m sorry you think I’m the worst mom in the world, but you still can’t go to that party.”
This went on and on until I reached a certain age and realized I shouldn’t excuse myself for anything, whether a burp, a political philosophy, an ungainly yoga position, or an inability to stay out past 10 p.m.
Which brings me to my 3-year-old grandson.
Who has no desire to learn to use the potty.
When I take him to his pre-school orientation, the teacher shows him the small bathroom toilet.
“See?” she says, knowing about his lack of enthusiasm on bathroom issues, “it’s just the right size for you!”
“Excuse me,” my well-disciplined little grand guy replies, shaking his head NO vehemently. “I have a big butt.”
The teacher holds in a laugh, her eyes twinkling, as she mouths to me, “Isn’t he the cutest thing?”
I watch my grandson gauge the reaction his excuse has garnered.
His face lights up with a huge smile.
Yup, I see some curtsying and twirling (in guy fashion) in his near future.