They Deserve Better
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

She stood clutching a $5 bill in her hand, and then glanced over her shoulder in search of a little boost of confidence.

"You can do it," I told her.

Alexis lifted her chin and met eyes with the vendor at the Farmers Market. "Can I please have..."

A woman in a blue shirt walked between the vendor and the little girl, quickly grabbing a sample and asking several questions. Alexis backed up a few steps so that she wouldn't be trampled. When the interruption ended, Alexis started again. She walked away proudly holding her purchase, oblivious to the rudeness of the scene that had played out in front of her.

She's used to it, after all.


When we walk through the mall, she holds my hand. Alexis is big enough to be trusted in a crowd, but I don't trust the crowd. I make her hold my hand because if she's closer to me, I can help keep it from happening.

Although, it often happens in spite of my precautions.

On the day that we ran into the mall to quickly grab some soaps, it happened twice. First it was the tall man in the black shirt who was deep in conversation and didn't see the person in front of him since she was below his line of sight. He walked straight into Alexis before I could pull her out of the way. He very nearly knocked her over, but he didn't know that because he just kept walking.

She wasn't bothered by the lack of an apology. She's used to it, after all.


As we walked towards our seats on the plane, I heard the words. I glanced at Alexis to see if she had as well. If she had, she was sure to loudly report, "Mom! She said a bad word!"

Fortunately, Alexis had missed the commentary from the woman who would be seated in the row behind us on the plane.

Why the woman thought it was a good idea to curse about how she "always got stuck sitting by the {redacted} little brats" on a plane, I don't know. But, I sure did gloat loudly when Alexis was a perfect angel throughout the entire flight.

Alexis was oblivious to the whole thing. She's used to being treated like her presence is a problem for everyone around her.


I learned the hard way that you can't take a curly-headed kid to just any hairdresser. Alexis' hair grows painfully slow, meaning that the one really bad haircut she has had was a problem for months and months and months.

When the mullet-like mess had finally grown out enough to warrant the third haircut of the 5-year old's life, I scheduled an appointment at a high-end salon that came highly recommended. Since she only gets one haircut every nine months or so, I don't mind spending a few dollars, if only to make sure it's done right.

As we walked through the door, I instantly knew what was about to happen. After a cloud of confusion, the salon workers were clear on the assignment of the moment. They wouldn't be touching my hair, but rather would be getting paid to take care of the little girl.

When she sat perfectly still and was 100% cooperative, I glared at the women whose facial expressions had made it clear that they weren't thrilled to have to deal with a someone so young. The eyerolls were the first clue. The muttered obscenities were the second.

Alexis didn't mind. She's used to being treated as less than human.


A Pittsburgh restaurant has banned children under six years of age. It's OK because it's a restaurant that we already know we don't like. We stopped there years ago and found the food to be nothing special and the service sub par.

Yet, it's not OK. It's yet another way the world has told Alexis that she's not a human being deserving of basic levels of kindness. It's OK to interrupt her. It's OK to run into her. It's OK to moan about her presence.

If the world expects small kids to act like respectable human beings, maybe it should treat them like respectable human beings.

Article originally appeared on burgh baby (
See website for complete article licensing information.