I just realized this morning that I was being insulted yesterday.
That is, I felt the interaction was unfair, and that I somehow wasn’t saying the right thing, but I was not aware until today how (basically) rude and provoking the people were being.
In their defense, they may not have realized it either. It might just be in their nature to go for what they perceive as an opening; in which case I’m doubly thankful I was clueless, because that precluded defensiveness on both sides.
Anyway, I mentioned that life will be getting even busier soon since school will be starting, then added the clarification that we are homeschooling.
“Oh,” says Person-A, “Will Jay be teaching them math?”
“He could,” I said, surprised at the question and not wanting to make Jay look bad by saying he’s not currently planning on doing any of the teaching.
“I was just thinking he ought to be able to,” Person-A finished.
Then (this was my moment of lucidity) I realized Person-A had just insinuated it took an engineer to teach 1st-grade math.
“Are you implying,” I asked, genuinely hoping to embarrass him, “That I can’t teach 6-year-old math?”
Yes, that’s what he was implying. He didn’t even try to defend himself.
I was surprised, but shrugged it off. It wasn’t important to me what he thought.
It wasn’t until later that night, thinking again of the leggy Darwin fish on the car in his driveway, and remembering the sign during voting season for the local fellow I wasn’t voting for, that I began to feel something about our interaction wasn’t right.
And then this morning I realized that I had gone into the conversation utterly unprepared.
I had gone to admire a delicious new baby and prattle family small-talk and keep up positive neighborhood relations.
It was not in my mind that I was entering as an ambassador of Christ, and Homeschooling, and Conservative Thought, and Purposeful Parenting.
Lord-willing, that will never happen again.
I acted as though I was a friend among familiars, being sloppy in my explanations and imprecise in my reasons. In short, I did more to reinforce any (diminished) view they may have of those things I represent than to correct it.
And maybe “it wasn’t that bad,” but the problem is that I didn’t enter as an ambassador, aware of what I represented. If I’d had the right mentality going in, I know I would have done better (If I’d only know this was a job interview…).
I might have recognized the “playing” of me and my ideas before the next day, and maybe refused to play. I want to think I’d still not be offended (it never serves a diplomat to be offended), but I could have been more “professional” and less of an airhead.
Again, not that I’m sure I was the opposite extreme, it’s just that I muffed a fine opportunity to muck up their stereotypes.
And I find that disappointing.
All the same, I haven’t yet learned how to respond politely to subtle insults, and it occurs to me that had I fully known what was going on I might have been a poorer representative of Christ than I already was.
I am thankful to have had a “learning experience” than didn’t cost too much, and find a renewed interest in investigating both the history and training of ambassadors.
It’s a study I feel could be beneficial even on a dabbling level.