The Setting: A bus in Manhattan, about 3pm, a weekday in September

Dramatis Personae: Father early to mid 30’s and his son, probably about 7- persons of color. Father wearing jeans and dark colored T shirt. Son wearing shorts and T shirt sporting a backpack and carrying a lunch box. Woman, white, 70ish NPR tote bag and Biden/Harris pin displayed proudly

They are seated in the front of the bus in the seats that face each other. Me, your narrator is one row behind.

Son: I want the backpack like the other kids at school have, The lunch box sticks to it

Father: You don’t have to have things just because other kids have it

Son: But it’s easier. And it’s better

Father: We’ll talk about this later

Son: Mom said I could have one

Father: I give your mother money. If she thinks you need it she can use the money

Son: But it’s a really cool backpack

Woman: You really don’t need another backpack.

Kid looks away from woman, Father squirms on seat.

Woman: You know things cost money and sometimes the money is best not spent on things like this. You could carry your books to school in anything. You could reuse a plastic bag.

Father and son still trying to look away.

The woman continued to lecture the son about value and backpacks and saving the world one backpack at a time. OK- she didn’t say that. But she really kept talking and even I was ready to day “Oh for God’s sake would you shut up” and she wasn’t even talking to me.

So I must ask the following:

Should you jump into an argument between a parent and a child when there is no reason to suspect that violence is about to occur?

Was the women “whitesplaining” by interfering, assuming that a person of color couldn’t handle a situation with his son?

Was the women “womensplaining” assuming a man doesn’t know how to parent?

Was the women “oldsplaining” assuming that someone youngish doesn’t have the maturity to handle the situation?

Was the women butting in where she didn’t belong at all?

Did the women have every right to interfere with this situation because it’s our duty as citizens to further explain things to a child?

Did she embarrass Father, son or both?

Did she make the person one row behind cringe every time she talked down to the man and the child?

What’s your opinion on this matter?

93 thoughts on “You Got Some Splaining to Do

  1. Made me cringe reading this, and I’m 5 months, 1000 miles removed from the situation… Had something similar (not quite, but close) happen to us when we were traveling back from New York on Amtrak. Could have been the same lady you say..fits the description to a tee. She took it upon herself to stick her nose into a situation with a young man who was traveling with dog. She was in the row behind us, and he a row in front. Toxic/ toxic/ toxic. Where do people like that come from? How are they formed? There has got to be an explanation. Gave me a flash back LA! 🙂 DM

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m cringing too. That was definitely a MYOB situation between a parent and child. I don’t even know if this was a white privilege situation. I am guessing she does this with everyone all the time. Ewwwww….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. True but I think in this situation she was simply a busybody and would have butted in on anyone. But you were there and spot on with your analysis.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My answer, from the perspective of a white female who now officially falls into the older category:
    Appropriate to jump into this convo: NO. Whitesplaining; probably not given the continued length and general focus of the diatribe. Womansplaining: I’d say no again. Oldsplaining: possibly but most of us who butt in on occasion do still recognize when to stop. Even if it was any or all of the previous she had no business getting involved simply because she shared space with the father/son on a bus or anywhere else. I think this is just another of those “holy crap, some people…” situations. I would love to know what she would have done had you spoken up!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine wanting to embarrass this father son duo. This is the kind of situation every parent encounters on the daily (hello candy in the checkout aisle) to think this guy couldn’t handle it and needed help…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it happens often. The intent probably isn’t malicious or condescending. Some people are just really clueless that the world isn’t waiting for their opinions.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I totally agree. I wasn’t there i felt her getting on my nerves just reading it. That being said, i think we’re forgetting that this woman is an old woman and to the best of my knowledge, they but their heads, as you said, in other people’s conversations and nag non stop. Though it was inappropriate and downright embarrassing, i wouldn’t take it to heart. Setting that thought aside, we should not butt into a parent’s conversation with their child unless necessary (or anyone’s even).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. you’d be a fool to get involved . .but also human…when you bring private things out in public, it’s kind of fair game..
    people will listen and react

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  6. She was definitely butting in where she didn’t belong. Who knows what made her feel unpowered to do so? Whatever the reason, her “splaining” was an intrusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m totally cringing at this picture, but also think it that someone with quicker thinking than me could have turned that conversation into something very different. In other words , used it to educate that woman. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hopefully the dad told his son later that she was an example of how not to act , not to butt in on strangers conversations or assume you know what’s best for other people . Kids have to learn to deal with kinds of people . Ugh !

        Liked by 1 person

  8. She was butting in where she had no business interfering. Her motive is unknown, but perhaps the kind thing is to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she wanted to help, perhaps was lonely, and didn’t think about the inappropriateness of her intrusion. Definitely a cringe-worthy situation.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So maybe my posting will make someone else rethink how they interact with others. I can’t solve loneliness, but I can make sure people look at all the different ways that their actions. And be interpreted

        Liked by 1 person

  9. It wasn’t appropriate for this woman to butt-in. The father was handling it just fine and both father and son are put in a position of not knowing how to respond to the woman, who is a stranger. I think I would have told the woman that this was not any of her concern, but you have to wonder how she might take that. From the other perspective, sometimes I think older people (I laugh as I’m older now too) are just looking for someone to acknowledge their existence so they speak up in social situations (I do not do this). But that can be very awkward. This woman has announced herself as being outspoken with the political button and NPR bag, so this might also just be her nature. Those items also might provoke some people and she may be looking for that – to have a conversation. Whether she realized it or not, she was talking down to them and was casting the image that the father couldn’t handle the situation. Would she do that to a white person, I don’t know so I can’t conclude racism, but that could be true. The seating position, facing each other, can convey to a person that talking is appropriate – it’s like sitting in a circle where everyone faces each other in a classroom. But people can be confused with social cues. I congratulate the father for showing restraint.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My thought was she was taking over the situation because the father couldn’t handle it…that’s how I read it. Of course, that’s my interpretation, but I don’t get butting in on a conversation that pretty much every parent has every day…I want x…followed by no

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember when my Daughter was young and she would press me on something like this. I would have to say no a dozen times and then she would just drop it. A few years later she confessed that she never expected me to say yes, but she had to test the limits to she if she could get what she wanted 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s just it! This was a parenting issue we continually face at all ages and stages of the parenting spectrum…to interfere in this is just wrong…don’t we all feel crappy about our parenting at least 25% of the time?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Ugh, absolutely she had no business in this conversation. As Earthwalking13 said, probably a case of old person looking for acknowledgment and for someone to talk to. My father looks for situations to stick his nose into (he’s in his mid 80’s). I also think it is a case of a do-gooder to the rescue. Gotta save the world and help everyone because she knows best.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. The woman should have kept out of the conversation. There are some boundaries you don’t cross. If abuse or bullying was going on then I’d feel I’d have to intervene or call for help. But this was a parent child situation and the child was not in danger. I might even pull the woman aside and say to her if she wanted to help young people she could volunteer in an after school program or volunteer as a helper in a public school where she could be an asset and read to kindergartners or assist special Ed students with learning basic skills. But I believe that when it comes to families, unless someone is in danger, you don’t generally insert yourself in their conversations.

    Now I will admit, in the elevator the other day I had to go to the top floor to get a Pet Scan. A mom and her little girl were discussing the Carl Hiaasen Novel called “Hoot”. The child looked to have been in about 5th grade.) The mother was concerned it was too mature for her daughter. Now children’s books I know! And I have taught that book in school multiple times, and so I did sort of make a comment about an educational issue, but I asked permission. I simply said something like this.. “ Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear your concerns about a particular book. I’ve taught that novel in class, so if you’d like, I’d be happy to answer a few questions about the book which may alleviate your concerns.”

    The mother’s face brightened and she asked me some questions. Before I answered I turned to her daughter asking her if she was in the 5th grade. (she was). Then I proceeded to explain to the mom that the reading level was 5 th – 9th grade and it was a wonderful book which promoted saving endangered species, promoted natural habitats and discussed Florida’s Flaura and fauna, which is all part of Florida Studies. However, the book does have a few “mature” words and so I suggested she get a copy and read it first, or along with her child, so they could discuss the book together. That way she could get a feel for the author etc. I also told her that there is a movie of the book and she could watch it with her daughter after reading it. The woman seemed relieved and thanked me. However, if she had declined my offer to answer questions about the novel, I would have walked away. (The book does have a couple swear words in it. But the plot is wonderful).

    So on an educational level, I did insert myself. But I didn’t give my opinion until she asked for it.. I would never push my views on a stranger or tell a father how to parent his child. However, after so many years as an educator, if someone asks for input on a children’s or young adult book, I’m happy to assist. The teacher in me wants to help, for sure. But I wouldn’t intrude on the family without being asked. Perhaps I overstepped in the elevator but it worked out ok. Who knows….

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I think we need to be cautious with this scenario LA. I understand you tossed out possible causes behind the actions of this woman, and always are interested in sparking discussion but as I read through the comments there are many generalizations being made about an individual. Assumptions are flying around and I think you’ve discussed the pitfalls of assuming here on the blog before. In almost every comment someone has touched on or made an assumption about this specific woman based on descriptions you gave and questions you asked. That is not to say any one of us could not have made those assumptions on our own, because we are all guilty of assuming at any given time. I was simply struck by the way we chose to use your words to define and label and generalize not only behaviors but the woman herself. IE: liberals do such and such (bag/pin), whites feel the need to school POC, women feel men in general have no clue how to parent, old people are known to butt in regularly where they aren’t wanted… I am just as guilty in my answer after touching on each point that you brought up as a possible reason for her actions, even though I know the answer is multifaceted. So I have to ask, without trying to tell you how to write your blog, and after reading comments- how you feel about the overall way so many of us chose to run with and utilize the concepts you presented to us when we commented. Do you, like myself now feel that many of us are perpetuating assumptions about an individual based simply on the words of someone else?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are 100% correct about judging and assuming. And I knew, for better or for worse, exactly what I was writing and how I was phrasing it. First off, I don’t like indicating that someone is a liberal or a conservative by what they wear. I only started doing this when I would write something like this and someone would inevitably comment on trump and his minions. Every. Single. Time. So I feel I need to make clear whether or not someone is wearing a maga or build back better hat. Again…I hate doing that, but I’ve come to feel it’s necessary. As for the other stuff, it boils down to does someone have the right to jump into a personal conversation between any two people and insert their opinion, or in this case parent the child. And I can’t help but wonder if this had been a more mature white women with a child, if the other person would have interjected. So basically, I wanted people to think about their own prejudices, and it they actually do think they are as open minded as they think they are. Sometimes you have to shock someone into looking at things differently. This will sort of fit into my post for this Friday, where I totally hope to piss people off. I hope Ive made half my readers think about their actions, and that soon I will make the other half think about their actions. As divided as we are, I have to unfortunately pick side to pick on

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I know you always have a purpose to what you write and you want us to think. I have never read one of your posts though that surprised me to the level this one did in the comments. At the time I left this comment almost all of the others had jumped on the label bandwagon and chosen their reason from what you supplied. To be honest, those who went with the “old woman butting in” label came at me hard. I am an oldish woman and to be placed into a generalized category by assumed behaviors has never happened before. Then I realized the majority of the group was also picking their label and assuming. Needless to say, it shocked the hell out of me! And thanks for the warning for Friday!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Think of this…the assumptions that this person was lonely and just wanted to talk. Do we think all older people are lonely? What does that say about our attitudes towards aging?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The loneliness thing was what stood out to me…out of all the assumptions I’ve seen, that one boggles me the most. No wonder why people try to fight aging…to give you a hint on an upcoming blog…I recently read a book where the main character was my age…and they almost put her out to pasture…and she was 58! I mean…when did 58 become old?

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  13. God that’s why I hate public places. You witness things and such that so uncomfortable. For one I think she should have stayed out of a private matter (even when it’s in a public place) and two I think maybe people need to relearn boundries. Do you know Kim Kardashian was on a date with Pete Davidson and someone walked right up and told her “Kayne is better” Kayne being her ex. This person did not know her, and this was unprompted. That situation reminds me of this. Mind your business and unless the situation is getting out of hand stay out it. They were in public but that doesn’t mean you have a right to insert your opinion over someone else in an arguement. Just my take on it. I’m old fashion that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yeah, some people just can’t help butting in on other people’s business. This woman clearly has no idea what’s going on in that family. I’m afraid my hubby is like that a lot. Not necessarily with criticizing, just offering his opinion when he overhears people talk. I’m the one cringing and trying to look away.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Yeah, don’t blame age. I find it’s rare that people change that much through the years. I’m still friends with my HS and college buddies. I don’t have any close friends who would do what this lady did and my close friends are mostly over 6O. Statistically speaking men get more conservative as the grow older and women become more open minded,the kids are grown and they can finally spread their wings. So they have time to explore ideas. but generally, I think busy bodies were always that way. I’m super liberal but I don’t walk around with buttons and badges flaunting my politics. Well, on RBG’s birthday I do wear earrings with her judges collar and pearls in honor of all her accomplishments. But I don’t go wagging a finger at strangers. And during Women’s history month I usually post an accomplishment of an unsung female who was left out of our history books by posting a snippet about them on my fB page. My goal is to recognize women who were overlooked in history. If someone doesn’t like that they don’t have to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m all about recognizing people who are under appreciated and underserved….the comment that most gets me is about loneliness…first off that older people are lonely, or that this women did this because she’s lonely…which really, is an excuse…

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      1. Very true! Some elderly folks might be lonely, but mostly seniors are just fine . In this crazy time in history, I think younger people are more prone to loneliness and depression than seniors are . They have complained about suffering more in quarantine than any other age group. Everything is social with younger people so they have never really had to contend with social restrictions. The more “mature “ people seem to be taking things in stride. ( my opinion) Seniors Tend to keep busy. Many of us don’t have to work a full time job anymore so we can volunteer, read, take classes, on line if not in person, explore new adventures etc.. sure, The pandemic has certainly isolated us but my contemporaries are mostly in their 60’s and early 70’s. We do zoom gatherings since Covid-19 numbers have gone up again. But, we are still connected, even if it’s virtual. So loneliness and keeping busy is not a problem. Plus, many of us have grandchildren and enjoy the world with fresh eyes through them. Being nosy is not synonymous with someone over 60. And everyone gets lonely sometimes. But I can tell you since I live in an over 55 community, that age isn’t what makes a person a busy body. It’s unique to certain individuals.

        Hey, as a retired elementary school teacher, some the nosiest people I ever saw were some of the stay at home parents when their kids went to school. They would stand around after dropping off their children and gossip about other parents, students, teachers, etc. They gossiped in school or on the on the soccer field and at other sports events. Yikes! Worse than you can imagine. So lonely and nosy isn’t about age.

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      2. I think young kids are very lonely, and being in screens all the time is going to make it worse. They’re not learning how to coexist, or compromise

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