Friday Faux Pas

Today LLC and I were in the park where we last year encountered this howler but this time the only faux pas on the scene was me.

The children’s play area was nearly empty (hurrah) when we arrived, with only one other mother pushing her two children on the swings. Of course LLC also wanted to ride the swings. This was no issue as this playground has several swings, so over we went and off went LLC, swinging happily away.

And here’s where I made my cardinal error. I attempted to make eye contact and friendly small talk with this other mother on the playground. We were standing directly next to each other. LLC was craning her neck directly towards her two children watching them swing. I didn’t want to exchange life stories, but in the rare relative quiet of the playground it just felt strange to me not to share some basic pleasantries or at least a sympathetic glance with this other woman. Grudgingly she offered me a few words in return but I can take a hint and clammed up pretty quickly.

This is not the first time I’ve had something like this happen to me in England. Is there a small talk line here in the UK that I really shouldn’t cross, although the ‘American’ in me feels compelled to do so? Was she affronted that we also chose the swings near her brood, when faced with an empty rest of playground?  Of course this mother’s reticent stance was surely only exacerbated when she heard my accent and probably feared a verbal assault of “Oh my Gods.”

Is it that bad to be friendly?

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11 Responses to Friday Faux Pas

  1. Mwa (from Lost in Translation) says:

    Flemish women have the same attitude problem and it drives me crazy. You were right. She was wrong.

  2. Tasha Goddard says:

    Oh dear. How sad to have your friendly overtures spurned like that. I would like to think that she was just very shy or inept at the small talk thing. I#39;m hideous with that kind of thing myself, though have improved greatly since having children. I do find that children can really break the ice and there#39;s always going to be a common point of reference, whether that be sleepless nights, school choices or feeding preferences. But, yes, some people are also just plain rude.

  3. Nappyvalleygirl says:

    You were fine – she was just rude. I have come across people like that (both in England and America) – probably best not to bother with if they are like that.

  4. AHLondon says:

    Happened to me all the time.  In the early years, it bothered me.  Now I don#39;t usually bother to try, to the extent that when I go home to Texas sometimes I have to remind myself to make small talk.  I let someone else start first.  If they do, then I will happily chat back.  It is just one of those things that are different.  Brits don#39;t do small talk.  

  5. Metropolitan Mum says:

    What did you say to her? Am really curious, it must have been outrageous 😉

  6. Tanya (Bump2Basics) says:

    It just felt so awkward – we could have exchanged a few words as we were standing right next to each other and then moved on 3 minutes later

  7. Tanya (Bump2Basics) says:

    Kids do break the ice.  They are an easy common ground.  I am chatty, so will usually say something when in this type of situation.  I suppose not everyone would be so inclined

  8. Tanya (Bump2Basics) says:

    Yes, I have learned where to move on before things get really strained.  In those cases just staying quiet would probably have been the better option!

  9. Tanya (Bump2Basics) says:

    After I moved to England I went on a business trip to Texas and was quot;startledquot; when a nice couple randomly started making small talk with me in the airport.  In that instance, it was like I was converted to the school of no small talk and just forgot…

  10. Tanya (Bump2Basics) says:

    quot;I#39;ve never heard such shrill scream on a child…,quot; nodding at her little girl.  br /br /Of course not!  Just something inane about the swings or something I think as all of our kids were on them.

  11. Kelly_A place of my own says:

    I#39;m usually the one looking desperately at people wishing they would talk to me as I am too shy to start a conversation.br /br /Which is probably why no one does as I look a bit odd and I#39;m staring at them!

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