Over the past few days, our whole motley crew has been going out to stores. For some reason, there tend to be a lot more comments from people when we go to stores. It seems to freak people out that our big family does mundane things. Going to the park: no big deal! Going shopping: reason for open mouth gawking!
Anyway, the first big shopping trip was to Trader Joe’s. The comments began before we even got in the store. A woman was trying to get her 2 sons into some carts. Her older child was rolling on the floor because the younger one was sitting in the cart. Apparently the older one wanted to ride, too. The poor mom ended up grabbing 2 different carts. She looked like she was about to give up on the whole shopping thing…and then I walk up. I’ve got a baby on my back, a toddler in my cart, and 3 kids holding hands around the cart. She stared for second, and then said (with a straight face), “Gosh, you have your hands full.” Seriously, lady? Your 5 year old is rolling on the ground and I’m the one with her hands full? I just smiled. Actually, I think I tried to say something first but ended up doing my trout impersonation. You know, open mouth, close mouth, open mouth…then I smiled and walked into the store.
If you’ve ever been to a Trader Joe’s, you know that the bananas are about 15 feet in the door. That seems to be the standard set up. Yeah, that’s how far we got before another comment. We were picking out about 15 bananas (no, I’m not exaggerating) when I suddenly got a creepy feeling. You know, like someone was watching me and invading my space bubble. I turned and there is a little (like, under 5 feet tall) old lady reaching for Moose on my back. Seriously, her hand was about 6 inches from my baby’s face. Instead of apologizing for trying to touch my baby, she launches into the usual series of questions: are they all mine, how old are they, are any twins, are they all girls…she engaged me in a 10 minute conversation! I’m pretty snarky and sarcastic by nature, but I can’t seem to be mean to strangers. So there I am, trapped at the bananas while an old woman and her husband talk to me about their 2 grandchildren and my decision to procreate. Ugh, this trip is not going well.
We were shopping for about an hour (because I’m a shopping ninja with 5 kids in tow) and were stopped by all 12 of the other people in the store. We even got comments from the employees! Is it really that strange to see a family at the store? And why do people feel the need to comment?
Pregnancy seems to destroy people’s brain to mouth filters, but why does having more than 2 kids have the same effect? None of the comments are new or witty. Hell, in our trip to Home Depot today 75% of the people who commented asked if we had all girls. And that’s not the most common question. 100% of all the people who said something to me about my family in the last 3 days asked if they were all mine. Huh? My answer is always a smile and a polite, “Yes.” What really goes through my head is more along the lines of, “No, I just picked them up outside and thought it’d be fun to drag them along.” Oi.
Why do people assume all my children are girls? Sometimes I can kinda see it with Dimitrios, but Lucius is really masculine. His hair is short (by my standards), he has a very strong jaw (for a 3 year old), and even gravitates toward more masculine clothes. And yet, people still assume he’s a girl. Why don’t they ever ask if I have all boys? I don’t gender stamp the kids, so there are days when all 3 girls are in dark, masculine clothes. Still, Persephone and Calandra seem to scream “girl.” Theron, as a baby, is still in that squishy unisex age, so I can understand a little confusion with her. But my boys look like boys to me. When I answer the “all girls” comments by saying I have boys, people typically ask if the baby is a boy. Wha?!?! Um, no. Sigh.
I’m okay with questions when they’re real questions. Asking me about the kids’ ages and genders is fine with me. Go ahead and strike up a conversation about home school or my children’s personalities. I’m really proud of them. I like to talk about them. But I hate those questions made as statements and I loathe assumptions. Don’t state that my hands are full. Honestly, they are no more full with 5 than they were with 1. There are challenges to every family size and I certainly don’t need pity for mine. I love my kids and I’m proud to have this many. Blah!
The moral of this rant is don’t say dumb things! 🙂 If you see someone with a big family, don’t say the “witty” comments that come to mind. I can promise you that you aren’t the first to say it. You may not even be the first to say it THAT DAY!
Heck, one day, I might just snap at the strangers who come up to me.
You know, maybe I’ll frown or something.
Darn. I really need to work on being mean.