04 September 2005

The Invisibles

Invisible people are a big part of our world these days, mostly invisible versions of real people Curious Girl knows and loves. Her car seat is in the middle of the back seat, and the seatbelts on either side of her seat are buckled most of the time because one or the other of her friends will suddenly be riding in the car with us. When we get where we're going, I have to unbuckle the friend(s) and then we all hold hands to walk across the street. Sometimes the invisible friends can eat invisible food while we're eating; sometimes they need a real plate and a placemat, though. It all depends. It's fun to watch the way Curious Girl works out her social relationships and which friends are coming to visit us. (sometimes, the invisible friends who visit are people at preschool who do things she doesn't like. So with the invisible friend, she practices how to handle it. Last winter we had a good number of visits from Pushy Boy, so she could say "No, Pushy Boy, no pushing. I DON"T LIKE THAT!" That cracked me up--I mean, why imagine an invisible friend just so you can fuss at them? But it's a great way to rehearse responses.)

So that kind of invisible person is great. But it really, really bugs me when we're out and about and Curious Girl turns invisible. It's happening at restaurants more and more lately. We walk in, I'm holding Curious Girl on my hip or holding her hand, and a waiter will say, "two?" and we say, gesturing to each other and CG, "no, two and a half," or "no, three." We sit down, maybe getting a booster seat for Curious Girl (who is 3 and a little bit). Then the waiter will bring us only two glasses. Or only two plates. If we ask for an extra plate so we can share all our food, we don't always get it. The first time this happened, I thought, ok, bad service at this place. But now I'm starting to think that three year olds are just invisible to servers. And that makes me sad.And angry. She's not invisible, she's hungry.

2 comments:

sster said...

I find it hard to believe that lovely, chattery (sometimes screamie) three-year-olds are invisible to ANYONE! They're hard to miss. I don't think most servers are properly trained in how to serve to families with children. When they are, it's great: styrofoam cups with lids and straws, a smiley face in ketchup on a burger, crayons.

susan said...

Thanks for stopping by, sster. It is hard to believe that so many people in a service industry just don't see a child. Maybe because Curious Girl is very tiny they think she's younger--but still, even a 2 year old would eat. I'm not even looking for ketchup art (although that is a great idea)--mostly just some acknowledgement that she might require food. To be fair, we do have some favorite restaurants where the servers know her name and we get great attention (a server at an Indian restaurant last week gave her a mango shake free just b/c he wanted her to try it). So it's not all bad--but this invisibility really does seem to go beyond idiosyncracy.