Thursday, January 28, 2010

What would you do?? Clever quips needed, please!

The other day I took my three children (ages 5,3 and 1) and a friend's two children (ages 5 & 3) to local Children's Museum downtown while my friend waited in line for tickets to Disney on Ice. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and after several hours of fun at the museum, the kids (5 in all!) and I all hopped aboard the train to go claim our tickets. The children, though energetic, were well-behaved, warmly dressed, and obedient of all traffic laws (walking down the platform, waiting at crosswalks, etc.) I thought things were going rather well until a stranger stared at me, then the children, then back at me in obvious disgust. I ignored his rude behavior and, instead, cheerfully smiled and said "Hello!" as we passed. He continued to follow me with his eyes, too (something, I'm not sure what, but not too polite by any means!) to actually speak to me, but certainly wanting me to know how much he disapproved and even abhorred me for having 5 children. As we walked away, I wondered why his disapproval bothered me so much. I mean, first of all, why would I possibly care what he, a complete stranger, thought of me? Secondly, they (obviously!) weren't all my children anyway. So why was I even giving his behavior a second thought? (This reminds me of a time a few years ago when, walking into church with my baby and 2 year old, a man leaving the church said "Wow! Talk about over-population!" I thought "Seriously? Because of 2 children?")

I still wonder, and I'm trying to let it go, but since then, I've been replaying the situation over and over in my head, trying to think of an appropriate response to him. I mean, it hasn't been the first time someone has commented on how "many" children I have, and it's not likely to be the last (especially once we leave Utah!)

Once I got past the childish "Ya got a problem, dude?" and "What? Didn't your momma love you?" comments, I decided that I should have simply said "What, 5? I'm just getting started!" But, I would love to hear any ideas on how to appropriately respond so that I can politely let my own opinion (about how wonderful children are) be heard, since so many people are so free to share their dislike of large families. Or, is silence golden, in this case?

6 comments:

Queen Bee said...

A friend recently told me about a conference she attended, 8 months pregnant with her first, for whom she had been waiting 8 long years. The professor speaking ended his speech with thank you's and something like this "Thank you to those children who never came to get in the way of this important research..." The cheering and clapping made her feel awful! I guess it can happen, before you even have 1 child!

Luckily I get a lot more support for having 3 here in Lubbock than anywhere else I've been. In fact most people ask if we're going to keep trying for a girl!

I don't have any good responses but if you get some let me know, I've been looked at strange before too.

Natalie said...

I find it quite amazing how easily some people can comment to perfect strangers regarding such personal matters. I also find it sad that little children aren't always valued the way they should be. My sister has six kids and my brother has five, and they both have had the same complaint. The families in our ward here in Philly with four or five children hear a lot of that too. I think my brother once had a coworker give him the overpopulation speech, and I think he said (politely) something to the effect of "you should really be worried about all the people out there having children out of wedlock, on drugs, as teenagers, abusing their kids, etc. because my kids are extremely well taken care of and loved and will be grow up to be productive members of society."

Taylor and I have joked about telling people that our kids would be paying their social security one day, or sarcastically saying "it's a good thing your parents decided to have you!," which we of course would never actually say. ;-)

Amy Brinton said...

I deal with this issue daily! I love Baltimore, but I feel like I'm defending our (locally, large) family at every turn. After a few months of trying to figure out a clever response to questioning strangers, I finally just decided to say something like, "They're such good boys. What a happy family we have!"

Emily said...

I just got the Feb. Ensign today, and while going through it, I found in the "Latter-Day Saint Voices" a story that sounds similar to yours. It's called "They Are All Mine". I think it may help you in what you are feeling. Gotta love the Ensign!

Symes Family said...

Sarah, I hope you don't think I'm terrible for laughing til I cried reading this post. I can hardly believe how judgemental some people can be. I've had people give me that look with 2 kids - so I know what you mean. I always think - haven't verbalized it yet but ya know... - " If overpopulation is such a problem maybe your parent's shouldn't have had children." I'm harsh! You are so comical in your "just getting started" I love it!

We really need to get together sometime very soon.

Missionary Mom said...

You could have just smiled at him and said - "this isn't all, I have 3 in school and I just found out I'm expecting twins - aren't children wonderful?"