A few months ago, I was back in my hometown, visiting my parents. My mom and I went to her local hairdresser for some girl time one day. While I was getting my hair cut, the stylist’s assistant (who spent the whole time talking about very personal subjects) mentioned seeing her brother. The stylist was surprised they’d seen each other, as the assistant and her brother didn’t get along well. He seemed to be the ne’er-do-well type who only comes around when he wants something. The assistant replied that their mother hadn’t been doing well lately, and she was concerned that she may die soon. And as unpleasant as her brother is, he *is* family, and she couldn’t imagine grieving for a parent without him. When their father died, it was heart-breaking, had brother not been there to comfort her, she’s not sure if she’d have been able to keep it together. She just didn’t know how only children could handle it when a parent dies, it’s cruel to do that to someone, that’s why she has two children. She wouldn’t want to subject a child to suffering through the death of their parents and then being all alone.
At this point I should mention that I am an only child. I was born long after my parents stopped “trying”; they thought there were going to have a childless life when I was born. It was a hard pregnancy for my mother, & she was in her forties. After I was born, there was no question of there being another child – I was it.
As the assistant is going off on her monologue about how hard life is for only children, my mom is sitting there, looking down, upset, clearly unhappy (side note, my mom is the middle child of three sisters).
When the assistant stops to take a breath, I calmly say that *I’m* an only child. And that it never occurred to me that I’d be more upset when my parents die, because I’m an only child. And I’m not about to start speculating on something like that now.
After a long, awkward pause, the hairstylist changed the subject. The assistant spent most of the rest of our visit being rather…sullen.
As much as I love my mom, I don’t think I’ll be returning to the salon with her. I know she loves her stylist, but I hope the time she spends with the assistant is at a minimum.
Was my response to the assistant rude? Or just about right? 1204-10