I stand corrected. And mute. And grateful. At my husband’s church, I have been reminded that stereotypes are unacceptable: gently, kindly and without the slightest hint of rancour.

Getting carried away with the joy of all Easter egg hunts and too much sweet chocolate, I had just blurted out, “Let him be, he’s just getting it out of his system, just like all boys…”

In reply to the mild rebuke, not entirely seriously, I resorted to that age old defence, “What about testosterone?”

But that is no answer, and never has been. Strange, that I should need reminding, that stereotypes don’t bear in them any grain of truth – they merely allow us to continue with lazy thinking, with “them and us” mentality. As soon as we resort to generalisations, we forget to see the individual smile, or to remark on its particular meaning.

You would think that I would know that. I have spent years defending my particular capabilities and weaknesses against the ravages of careless stereotypes, the casually flung cruelties, “Oh, I thought all spastics, were, you know……” and even against the assumptions that I must feel differently, have a particular point of view, a special take on something, or a particular weakness. Well, no, I just want to be treated like the rest of common humanity.

Like everyone else, I have my failings, even, those you might not expect to see. If that small exchange has taught me anything, perhaps it is that we learn constantly. In each particular moment, it becomes a discipline to consider what we mean and what we say.

Writing excuses my more clumsy verbal mistakes. But I cannot hide forever. If I wish to be taken up, as the rest of humanity is, then I must train my words and actions to be more careful, more considered. I cannot expect to be excused, merely because my frailties are conspicuous. We all have frailties to contend with. I have much to learn, in realising that while you manage to deal gracefully with life, I am still learning to do so.

I am grateful for the reminder.

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