DEAR AMY: I’m a woman who works in an informal office environment. Today I was in a crowded meeting with more co-workers than chairs. I got to the meeting a bit late. Not wanting to stand the entire time for this long meeting, I quickly, and happily, sat on the floor. As I am currently four months pregnant, several co-workers (both male and female) politely offered me their chairs. I told them I appreciated their kind offers but that I was fine where I was. One of my co-workers refused to take my no for an answer. He immediately stood up. I told him again that I was happy on the floor and to please sit down. Embarrassingly for me, he refused, and remained standing for the rest of the meeting. I also “stood my ground” and remained on the floor. I know it is polite to offer your chair to a pregnant woman, but I was fine where I was. I felt uncomfortable being singled out. I think if I declined the chair, then he should have respected my wishes and sat back down. He thinks it would have been rude to have a chair while I was on the floor. What do you think?
Pregnant, But Still Able
DEAR PREGNANT: Offering one’s seat to a pregnant person is one of the last courtesies that is still widely accepted, sanctioned and even mandated (on public transportation).
Your pregnancy is not a disability — far from it. But, while neither you nor your male co-worker were wrong, you were both discourteous in fairly equal degrees.
It can be impolite to refuse a kindness, even if you feel this particular kindness was born in another era and offered with condescension.
Everyone witnessing this courtesy would feel a sense of fulfilment if you had taken the seat and thanked the giver. As it is, I guarantee that each person in the meeting was hyper-conscious of the pregnant woman on the floor.
Just as you asserted your right to make him uncomfortable by refusing his offer, perhaps he asserted his right to make you uncomfortable by remaining standing. Or, he didn’t take his seat because his embarrassment made him irrational.
After you have been through your entire pregnancy, you may come to a different understanding of the role that simple acts of kindness toward expectant mothers play as a way that people recognize one another’s humanity.
DEAR AMY: I am the proud mom of two great kids, 23 and 19. My 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a learning difference as a young girl. She has since overcome most of her issues through hard work and determination, though she still needs accommodations. She has gotten in to four colleges so far — she is a wonderful, sweet and engaged girl with whom I’ve always had a special bond. Recently while I was looking for change, I found a vape and a vaping liquid in her purse. I feel awful! I’m afraid to confront her, as it will look like I was snooping AND that I don’t trust her. If my husband finds out he will completely flip out. Amy, she’s 19, and a really good kid. What should I do?
Worried Mom in California
DEAR WORRIED: Didn’t you do anything unwise or unhealthy at her age? (I did, and still do.) Unless you can manage to discuss this calmly, reasonably and without freaking out, then what you should do is . . . nothing.
You seem to imply that this choice might be because of your daughter’s learning challenges. I think this proves that she is an on-target 19-year-old.
She will head to college soon. She will encounter many opportunities to engage in unhealthy practices.
Importantly, new restrictions in California will soon make purchasing e-cigarettes illegal for anyone under 21. While vaping is definitely not healthy, I believe the jury is still out on how unhealthy it is.
Make sure your daughter understands that she is responsible for her own health and well-being, and that this is a big and lifelong job.
DEAR AMY: Responding to various questions from grandmothers with hurt feelings, I am reminded of a wise piece of advice from my mother. She said, “If you want to hold your grandchildren in your arms, you keep your mouth shut!” As you might guess, my mother got on wonderfully with all of the daughters- and sons-in-law. Mom is gone now, but I still hear her voice in my head!
Appreciative Reader in Cleveland
DEAR READER: She’s in my head now, too. Thank you!