Well, this is a thank you to everyone who contributed to the overwhelming response to my post last week -“Yes, they are ALL mine! Answers to those rude questions about large families!” (Feb 23, 2012). The response was OVERWHELMING!
In just a few days this post was read by almost 35,000 people. I have been completely inundated with comments. So many beautiful and inspiring stories I read as well as really funny ones. Just when I thought I had heard it all many of you contributed other anecdotes and stories from your experiences out and about with your families including from your childhood growing up.
Well done! I am still trying to answer everyone. If your comment has not been approved it is because I am still responding. (!!!) Note…beyond causing mayhem on Internet as a goat I also work a fulltime job!
Because of this overwhelming interest in this topic, today I am sharing within this post (as a follow-up to the original) some of the other information I learned through the feedback from the post. Some people said that some of the comments that come across as rude are actually not intended to be as these people are genuinely interested in what makes big families “tick.” Many were horrified to discover how their “innocent” questions can often be perceived as rude.
Things I came to know include:
- The definition of a “large” family is actually any number greater than two kids.
- The moment you show up in public sporting both sexes in progeny (a male and female child) your family is now considered “complete.” Any variance in this (i.e. a third child present or expected) is considered “excess” and therefore fair game for comments from all sides.
- Not to fear, if you are a couple with no children you will not escape notice either (albeit the majority of remarks will come from “friends” and relatives).People will ask you shockingly personal questions to determine “why” you have not spawned descendants and kept up with national average number of kids that currently define the North American family (1.75 per family to be exact) in particular.
- If a being superior to you has ordained that your current children are of only one sex then you will be treated to some semblance of leniency as your numbers (larger than 2) are easily excused. The rationale… because you must be “trying” to get the ‘other” sex and can be more easily forgiven for having one or two in excess of the national average.
Then there is another whole other class of comment…the silent comment.
This would be when you are in public place, store, church, bank, post office or wherever and you run into those people who albeit “silently” comment. You know who they are. You can feel them staring at you and you turn around to discover they are shooting looks like lasers in your direction (if they are not already pointing you out from across the room…still silently…more or less). With every part of their bodies they visually object to your child’s presence with non-verbal exclamations of disgust and revulsion. Some augment this act with barely audible guttural groans and sighs. Others, who seemed like kindly faced, older folks until they noticed your children manage to contort their facial expressions until they resemble “Ursula” (the sea witch out of Disney’s Little Mermaid) in mid-flight rage. In all of this, all you have done to deserve this is to have allowed your little ones to accompany you. Same little ones who are being reasonably behaved (sure…the usual…asking how long or why or wanting you to buy them something) all things considered. I used to be offended….not anymore.
I go up close to the individual (still contorting their face and body expressing their extreme abhorrence to the presence of my children) and I nicely (and quietly smiling) whisper to them “How did you manage to get on this planet without being a 3-year-old yourself at one time? I’d REALLY like to know!” Their response is usually one of stammering only to be followed with “in my day children were seen and NOT heard!” This is the part that kills me! As this very person is likely to require some type of care or service or other contribution from the very same generation I am shepherding through the place where they are in attendance. Karma…it will get you every time.
As a teenager, I once had a summer job as a visiting homemaker to the elderly. I have many funny and precious stories but I also learned a lot about life. I learned that most of the older people I enjoyed working with were patient with me and forgiving of any small omissions. However, there were some who were not.
Predominately the older folks who had raised children were much more laid back and tolerant of the teenage help they were receiving. The ones whom had either not married or raised children, many of them were very intolerant and most impatient. I remember as a teenager thinking why it was so different between the two types and hoping that when I reach that revered age I am not in the latter group.
One lady I vacuumed her carpet and did only half of her ironing (largely because I had the iron too hot and it got stuck to her finery) and she was still thrilled with my help and told me not to worry about anything. The other lady, (well into her nineties) insisted on keeping me an hour late while getting on her floor (yes… on her hands and knees) and using her spittle to one by one lay the fringe of her carpet frightening straight strand by strand!! This was AFTER I had vacuumed the carpet, not once, not twice but three times. The entire time this older gal was on her hands and knees she was cursing my very existence within my hearing.
Years later I know the secret…once you have raised a child there is nothing else in this world that can scare, stress, shock, age, or dement you while at the same time completely transforming you into a being that can totally focus beyond self…no matter what the crisis or occasion!
I am totally indebted to my children for helping me develop patience (to the extreme), tenacity and the will to succeed (burn supper start over again) regardless of the obstacles ahead of me. Managing the crowd I run with has bestowed on my soul the gifts of humility (although the moment you advertise this one you lose it), kindness and empathy (I like to think I have some of that) and the odd psychosis ( i.e. my obsession with CLEAN laundry and my deep dreaded fear of any creepy-crawly that I did not give birth to).
Everyone says I am funny(I hope in the right sense) –though I must admit my sense of humour is the best tool I have (without which I would have been incarcerated years ago for likely some horrific assault charge). I am also most grateful for the other life skills as developed at the (small) hands of my kids. These skills include becoming a multi-disciplined expert in medicine, cuisine (queen of the 10-minute-chicken-nuggets), and financial wizardry. Let’s not to forget the tours of duty (put in at all hours) as a parole officer, exterminator (same difference), mediator (oh and how), beautician, psychiatrist, lawyer and nurse, professional cleaner (at times quite similar in nature) and chauffeur… just to name a few!
When I see that I stand tall in the eyes of my children I cannot really ever care about how I look in anyone else’s.
Again, thanks to all of you who commented, shared and read my post resulting in the avalanche response. I look forward to many of you joining this goat’s journey over life’s mountains and molehills!
The Garden Goat