Sunday, June 26, 2011

talking back

blurry, but all the nicely-focused ones where everyone was sitting quietly seemed inappropriate for the post

Human nature being what it is, I suppose I should stop being surprised by total stranger's comments on our family and children.  I always love it when someone stops to tell me that they're well-behaved, or adorable, (and nobody has ever said "Wow, your kids are sure throwing impressive tantrums" although there are times when it would be entirely warranted).

But the ones that I have trouble coming up with a response for are the times like the librarian saying, "Are these all your children?  Did you have them all on purpose?  Why?" (note:  we only had three kids at this point) or yesterday when we were walking into a grocery store and an older man said, "Don't you know what causes them [the children]?"  I was pretty taken aback and said something along the lines of, "They're blessings and we're grateful for all of them," and he said, "Oh...well...I guess they are." 

I grew up in a family of five girls, no boys, and I vividly remember people commenting to my parents, "Oh, you must be so sad to have no boys, " or when my mother was pregnant, "Still trying for that boy, eh?"  As a child I remember thinking that this was really rude, but it never actually bothered me because my parents made such a point out of telling us how lucky they felt to have five girls (plus my dad taught us to shoot and set up our own tents and start fires, so I didn't feel like he felt bereaved). 

I don't really know why I felt like this was blog-worthy, but it's been sort of bothering me ever since yesterday.  I feel like there's some really great comeback out there to comments like this--I'm just too *tired to think of it!  (On the other hand, I was so grateful for the friend who told me after church today that they always love sitting behind us because it brings back so many good memories of when their children were young, which was really sweet considering our kids were not so reverent today and I probably would have been sitting there thinking, boy, am I glad we're past that stage!)

So what do you do when someone says something like this?  What's that snappy comeback I'm looking for that reassures my listening children that I am so glad they're in our family?  Please give me some good ideas!  :-)

*so on the note of being tired, I am dreaming almost every night that I'm running.  It is so not restful!  Last night I dreamed that I had to run a half-marathon before I could sleep, and I was worrying about how I would nurse Luke during the race and thinking that I was going to twist my ankle because it was already 10:30 pm and I could barely see the trail.  The night before that I dreamed that I was running a full marathon in a huge warehouse (the bindery at BYU, where I worked one summer)--around and around--while someone was hitting me in the head with a crescent wrench, and I couldn't just leave because four people had thrown lariats around me and were keeping me there.  After I'd run forever, I finally asked how much further I had to go and they said I'd only covered 0.62 miles.


Mary Beth said...

I'm afraid my first response to that older man might be something along the lines of, "Don't you know how to speak politely to strangers?" (Seriously, what was even going through his mind to make him think that was an appropriate comment?)

Your response is probably much better and sounds plenty reassuring to your kids.

But then, I still haven't figured out a good way to deal with all the queries about my single status and whether I'm trying hard enough...

Malinda Crow said...

I'm sure Neil has told you this, but my parents always said they checked us out of the library. It would usually give them a chuckle and then they'd move on. I agree with you though, it's incredibly rude to say something like that to a complete stranger.

The funny thing is, I still consider 4 kids a fairly small family...

Meghan said...

Being hit in the head with a crescent wrench seems to me to fit perfectly with running marathons. They're equally appealing, as far as I'm concerned. That said, after I'd spent all night Friday dreaming about my not-completely-prepared SS lesson, I decided I need to meditate on a daily basis so clearing my mind and finding a peaceful place is something I can slip into at night to throw off the stresses of the day (or the upcoming day).

I think your reply was spot on. Forget about the strangers--their parents obviously did a poor job and you're not going to make up for it now. Your reply is for your children. So think about what is best for them to hear.

Jolena said...

Oh man, sometimes being in Utah is very nice because people generally don't comment on having too few kids. I seriously don't even know what I would say to that comment. What are people thinking?!

My current amusing comment is how young people think I am because I only have one baby that is five months old. My fellow young womens leaders think I'm ridiculous when I say it's been a while since I did something. Then I tell them my siblings are older than them and they get this really surprised look on their face. lol. People are so weird.

Hey, it's me...Jessica said...

I always get the "Your hands are full." Comment. Sometimes even said in a snide tone. I always respond --"Full of love."

Sarah Harward said...

We had a neighbor make that same comment to us when I was pregnant with one of our children. "You know what causes that don't you?" to which Steven replied "Yep, and it's more fun than sitting in front of the TV" or something like that. I was SO embarrassed, but in a way it made it clear to the neighbors that we love each other and are happy and trying to have children. I've often replied, 'Yep, it's a good thing I love being a mom!' I did have one lady when I was pregnant with #3 tell me (not ask, but TELL) 'Well, you're done now. No more after 3. Surely you wouldn't want ANY MORE!!' I think she thought I was a bit loony when I told her 'I love being a mom. I'm hoping for 6!' I really didn't care if I had 6 (and at this point I'm thinking we probably won't) but I just wanted to sock it to her! I agree with the other comments though, I try to answer for my kids (especially if they're with me) and if they ask later, why that person asked me that question, I just tell them because they think it's so neat that my kids can have such great brothers and sisters. Let me know if you come up with any great answers though!

Dani said...

Can I just say that living in CA I get this kind of stuff all of the time! Unfortunately, people are really rude about it a lot of the time and it takes all of my self control not to slap them.

I loved your response. I try to respond in a similar way, more for my kids' benefit than for theirs. The looks I get when I'm out with my three kiddos, and being eight-months pregnant with this little munchkin, are priceless. I just smile and with enthusiasm say, "I know. Aren't they wonderful?" Or something like that. I want them, but more importantly my children, to know that I love being a mom and that I kind of feel sorry for them if they don't see children as a blessing.

Why people feel the need to say anything at all is beyond me. Why people think they have the right to comment on other people's choices regarding children is beyond me.

@ Sarah, Your husband's response is priceless. I love it!

Neil said...

I should have said, "You must be so lonely."

Rachael said...

Thanks for the great ideas, everyone! I like the idea of hands full of love--and Sarah, I was cracking up at what Steve said.

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