Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Unnecessary questions

At the grocery store, my children enjoy helping me load the belt at check out. They also load the bulging bags back into the silver cart for the stroll to the van.

The middle-aged clerk commented, "You sure have a lot of nice helpers today."

"Yes," I beamed the proud mommy grin, "I have a the best helpers in the world."

She seemed a tad confused by the compliment. Maybe moms aren't supposed to brag on their own children, or maybe it's that we aren't even supposed to like our own children.
She furrowed her brow, "Are they yours?"

I gave the simple, "Yes" but I could feel it coming. It happens all the time.

She suspiciously eyed my brood more closely. Our family could enter the Sesame Street "one of things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong, can you guess which thing is not like the others, before we finish this song" contest. And we'd win. One boy does more than tan in the summer sun- he practically glows an unmistakable bronze. All my other children blaze a sunburned red smeared over Lilly white when sunscreen is not applied.

Anyhow, the clerk proceeded, "Are they all yours?"

"Yes, all mine." I proclaim with a gratuitous smile. But I know what she's thinking. It became obvious as she was no longer friendly to my sweet helpers or me.

With strangers there is always the painful scrutiny that I'm probably one of those loose women who has multiple baby daddies, and one man was the wrong color. Or maybe they are thinking something worse about my "poor" children. There's no comfortable way to stop the scorn. While we are proud to be adoptive parents, pointing out his birth circumstances to complete strangers wouldn't bless my son.

I wouldn't trade my life for the world, but I'd like to change the world. For the better. I just so happen to believe change begins with me, so I concluded my grocery store experience with the most sincerity I could muster, "I hope you have a great day. And thank you for your help."


tonia/sparrow said...

I totally know what you are talking about.

I get the "are they all yours?" question all the time. What makes me sadder is when they ignore one of us - assuming we are not all together...like he is invisible. :(

When my oldest three (all 13-15 months apart) were babies I used to love telling people "Why yes! They DO all have the same daddy!"

*eye roll*

What a question!

Hugs to your beautiful family.

Greemaw said...

Hmmm, somethimes that happens to Greemaw when she is out with the children......she just smiles and ignores them.

truevyne said...

I've gleaned this from you blog pics as I bet you have mine.

You are the best!

Kat said...

Never, never feel the need to explain yourself to rude strangers. Your response was perfect. It may or may not make a point to the cashier, but it shows your son that he is a part of the family and as such requires no explanation or excuses. Believe it or not, my mother's family always got the same reaction, of all things, because she has red hair in a family of dark haired people! A friend in similar circumstances got tired of people asking "Are those your real children?" And would reply, "Why yes, are those your real manners?" :)

Scott said...

Ouch. While I don't get that comment for the same reason, I do get it quite a bit because of my hordes of children.

I think seeing a man alone with that many children freaks some people out as well.

Anyway, the last time someone asked me that question I told them, "Nope, I just found them wandering around the store." That gets you about the same kind of attention as talking about bombs on an airplane - so I couldn't recommend it.

truevyne said...

Kat, I laughed out loud about the manners quote. I'm gonna use it.

Scott, I guess it could be the lotsa children for us too.
When my husband takes them all out, I think he takes the "I'm THE man" attitude of being such an asset to furthering our species.

~m2~ said...


i am going to think of wise and witty responses for you to fling back at people who cannot seem to keep their curiosity to themselves for whatever reason.

when someone asks "are they all yours?" say, "...that i know of..."


hugs to yours (and miss sparrow's) beautiful families. (i am a zealot after all!)