Do you ever have the sure and unsupported certainty that someone just doesn’t like you?
A mother of one of the children in Gregor’s class has never been anything but scrupulously polite to me, and I’ve never done anything to offend her. And she seems like someone I might have stuff in common with: she has short hair (so uncommon), carried her baby in a cloth sling, looks vaguely hippyish…but she just doesn’t like me.
The only time her polite smile ever displayed any warmth was one day when I saw here out of context and got a big grin. To her credit, when she placed me she didn’t give me the cold shoulder, but I’ve never seen that smile since.
It’s disconcerting. I’m not used to it. I’m not saying I’m the nicest person in the world, but at worst people seem to be indifferent to me. And a lot of people seem to like me.
I think it’s just one of those instincts where she’s looked at me and gone “nah”. As I get older I’m learning to listen to that instinct more and more, so I can’t fault her.
It had been a no-fault kind of thing.
But then, this morning as we were leaving, her newly-toddling baby was standing in the doorway with a toy push-chair from the classroom as we were about to leave. A, as is his wont, blundered around, walking essentially in circle and took his first step out of the door while his head was still looking into the classroom, or at his feet or forward to the solution of the cold fusion problem, or something. Of course, he stepped on the toy stroller, fell headlong into it, his full 44lbs and the metal handle of the toy knocking the baby flying.
I was already annoyed with him for being distracted and purposely awkward this morning, so he got a real talking to, and then, as the mother caught us up in the corridor Angus apologised.
“It’s OK,” she said. “It happens.”
She said it kindly too.
But I just know she still doesn’t like me.