Friday, June 7, 2013

Thoughts 'n' Things - Ageism


Prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person's age.

Peter and I went to Safeway today.  We planned out our shared meals for the next 6 or so days, made a list, and went.  As we were done checking out, the cashier looked at the receipt and said, "You kids just saved $40 dollars today."  Kids?  KIDS... 

Now, I understand that I look young for my age.  And there was no way for her to know that I have a Master's degree, have been living independently for 8 years, and am getting married in 44 days.  BUT she did know that Peter and I were shopping together, we (Peter) have our own Safeway card, and we (I) paid with a 100 dollar bill.  

I don't know, maybe I'm overreacting, but this is something that has always bothered me.  To me, using the term "kid" to apply to anyone younger than you is condescending and rude.  Do I really look that young?  Or are people just not thinking before they speak?  

Actually, I had a friend, who is my same age, call me "kiddo" once.  Wha-? Why?  I don't get it.  Was I supposed to then refer to her as "mama?"  

When I took choral methods in Undergrad, my professor told us we should never call our students "kids."  We should address them as "Ladies and Gentlemen" and refer to them as "students."  This institutes a level of professionalism and respect that will be likewise reciprocated.  I found this to be insightful.  Thinking back, even when I was in middle school I hated being talked down to, segregated from the adults, or generally lumped into the "little kid" category.  

So the moral of the story is this - If you're old, don't demean your younger compatriots by referring to them in terms of condescension and/or superciliousness.  And besides, shouldn't we be encouraging independence, maturity, responsibility, and sophistication in our children/nieces/ nephews/students/friends?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. I will admit, however, that I sometimes refer to my students as kids. I know that I shouldn't, but it comes out. Maybe reading this was just what I needed to start intentionally avoiding the word kids with them?


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