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It’s Wednesday Again! **

It’s Wednesday Again! **

March 8, 2006

Friday night I took the children to a restaurant for dinner. We had to wait for quite a bit of time for a table large enough to accommodate us. There were several other families waiting in the lobby area as well, when the inevitable happened.

Woman, “Oh my gosh. Look at all those kids.”

Daughter, “That’s a lot of kids.”

Woman, pointing while she counts, “One, two, three…”

Daughter, “Four, Five, Six…”

Woman, “There are six kids!”

Daughter, “Seven, Eight…”

Woman, “You got eight?”

Daughter, pointing, “I think you forgot to count that one over there”

Woman and daughter, “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven…”

Woman, “I think we got them all that time. Seven!”

Daughter, “Wow!”

Woman, “Holy cow! Seven children!”

While all of this is going on I am standing, holding my youngest child, less than two feet away from her. I am looking at her the entire time while she loudly counts and recounts, yet she never acknowledges me.

This happens frequently and I never understand how people don’t think this is rude. It’s almost as if I am invisible. Or deaf and blind.

****************************

Top Ten Fourteen Rudest and/or Strangest Questions/Comments That I Am Routinely Subjected To In Front Of My Children By Complete Strangers:

14) You couldn’t possibly give your children enough time/ attention/ stuff. We’re only having (insert small number, like one) because we want to give our child(ren) everything.

13) Do you want this big bag of hand-me-downs? I was going to throw it all away because the clothing is worn, stained, torn and otherwise not fit for my children to wear any longer, but I thought you might be able to use it.

12) You must have to shop at consignment stores, buy generic food, beg for hand me downs, grow and can all your own food, sew all your own clothing.

11) Do they all have the same father?

10) You’re not going to have any more kids, are you?

9) How can you afford all those kids? ( or the variations :Do you get public assistance?, How big is your house?, What does your husband do? usually while they try to discreetly check out my wedding rings)
8) Do you work? What do you do? (asked with the implication that I am on welfare)

7) You must be crazy. (or a saint, or Catholic, or Mormon)

6) Better you than me.

5) Don’t you know what causes that? They have things to prevent that, you know. Ever hear of birth control?

4) How do you feed all those kids? How much do you spend on groceries every month? How many gallons of milk do you go through a week?

3) Do you drive a bus? Does it beep when you back up?

2) Don’t you have a television?

1) I feel sorry for your kids.

As much as I would like to say I use rude and snarky comebacks, I don’t. I usually nod and smile. If someone is being particularly rude I’ll ask, “Why? Why are you asking me this?” Most often I will walk away and verbally fillet the person inside my head. It might be my upbringing, but it takes a lot for me to be rude to someone.

Then there are the people, usually cashiers that I can not get away from, who, after asking if they are all mine, proceed to tell me a story about their friend’s neighbor’s second cousin twice removed who had lots of kids and went crazy. And one day they found her completely naked, except for her shoes and socks with little balls on the back of the ankles, tap dancing on her roof.

I’m left standing there with my mouth hanging open, having no idea how to respond, except to say, “I don’t have tap shoes.”

****************************************

Friday night when the woman standing next to me turned and looked at me I fully expected to hear one of the above comments or a variation thereof.

Woman, “Wow, you are so brave to go to a restaurant with your kids and all their friends.”

I laughed.

*Carmen should have her version of this topic up today also.

** I resurrected portions of this post from my a post in my archives.

Posted by Chris @ 8:04 am  

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Comments

  1. aka meritt says:

    I would have jumped in to ‘help her out’ with her counting; “There are 7″ and smiled. ;)
    I was due with baby number 3 within 4 years. Funny thing is I could say “Why yes I AM Catholic!” LOL.

    *(I was never ever asked about the housing, welfare, public assistance, etc. though… GEESH! RUDE!!!!! I can’t imagine).

  2. Sherri Wilkerson says:

    How rude of people! Strange to think that you might actually consider your children to be blessings and that you love them so much it makes the middle of your throat swell and ache. But, wait, we ARE in the age of 2.5 children being the acceptable limit…

  3. Kim/Thomas says:

    We americans are so damned nosey!! I love your blog, you should really write a book, it is quite amusing!
    take care!
    kim

  4. Dot says:

    I get the same thing, ALL.THE.TIME. How original people think they are. The only thing I have ever said back was after someone said “Wow, you have your hands full”, my reply was “Yes, and my heart.” I was recently asked by a lady at church if I was crazy. (what’s up with that???)

    I just don’t get how people can say those things and think it is okay.

  5. Mrs. G. says:

    I have 7 also, and the one that always gripes me is when a stranger (whose children are standing right there beside her) says, “How do you do it? I can hardly stand the one (two, or three) I’ve got!”

    What usually goes through my mind is PITY for the offspring of any subhuman who would feel that way, much less actually say it where the child could hear it. Yes, there are days my kids are not giving me the warm fuzzies, (and I would like to run away to the Bahamas, alone) but I would never say such a thing to a stranger in front of them.

    My answer to those who ask, “Don’t you know causes that?” is most often “Yes, and obviously we are good at it!”

  6. caroline says:

    I’ve heard many of these comments, and we only have 4 children. I never understood how 4 could be too many. I love big families. I know a 30 year old married young lady expecting number 8 (no multiples either) … she and her husband are delighted and I for them.

  7. Erin-erin-bo-berin says:

    I only have THREE and I get the same thing. I get: “You must be SO busy!” to which I reply: “Well, I was busy with the first one, but not busy enough. I looked at my husband and said Why not have two more just like this one?”‘ That usually makes people turn and walk away!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why some people always feel it’s necessary to comment or make judgments about other people’s families. Why can’t they keep their mouths shut and mind their own business? Or, if they must comment, why not something like: “Beautiful children, Are you the big sister?”.

  9. nextcommercial says:

    O.K, I have to confess to thinking #7 and #4. And yes, I may have asked you about #4.

  10. Kim says:

    I *so know what you mean! I try to handle the blatant rudeness with grace, but I admit, it is difficult at times.

    On the other hand - you have given my an idea for a blog entry! :-)

  11. novaks8 says:

    I hear many of these comments a lot.
    I have been asked if we are Catholic many times.

    We are like the freak show at church when it is portrait time.

    I grew up with no siblings in the home with me and I love that my kids have sisters and brothers.

    Some days I do feel a little crazy though!

  12. kalisah says:

    If I saw you and were to say, “OMG, you must be so exhausted all the time!” would that be rude?

    And Emily Post would be very proud of you for the way you handle these rude inquisitors. You are setting a very good example for your children. And their friends.

  13. Jennifer says:

    This post has been removed by the author.

  14. "D" says:

    We need to come up with a list of replies for you… go ahead, ask us… I’m sure we can put together something!

  15. moe says:

    I always find it sad when a mother of well behaved, loved kids is called crazy but, it would be rud to say a couple getting divorced is hurting their kids.

    No I’m not Catholic but my hubby is.

    They do not need for anything but, as with most kids they want for everything.

    No I don’t have cable, my doctor said TV was not REALY an effective birth control.

  16. T. says:

    You know what I think when I see a mom with her tribe? Wow, what a blessing. My hubs and I were only able to have three and then we lost one. Now we’re down to two. We are going to do the adoption route now. I am thinking I am not brave enough for 7, but who knows. I am insanely jealous of moms with a passel of kids. Good for you!

  17. Annika says:

    Jennifer, I can only speak for myself, not Chris, but it is my experience that not thinking of other people’s feelings is the exact definition of being rude.

  18. Flutter says:

    There was 5 of us plus my 3 cousins and we were always together with my mom or my aunt and the comments people would say always amazed me at a young age. It took them alot to say something but every once in a while they would say something back to rude people. But there is 14 years between the oldest and youngest of us all and the older ones usually would start doing something back. Like if someone was counting us like that my brother would count back and say 1,2 oh my how sad you only have 2 kids.

  19. owlhaven says:

    Chris, I wrote about this over at my place today too. Adoptive families get some real zingers.
    Mary, mom to 8

  20. Anonymous says:

    It seems like people are rude no matter what. I have no children, and I get a lot of rude and very personal questions about it! It seems like it goes from “When are you going to have kids?” for people like me, and then “when are you going to stop?” for people with a large family- can we all just keep our mouths shut? :)

  21. Jennifer says:

    annika, if we’re going to be fastidious that’s not the “exact” definition of rude. and i do think your comment to mine was a little rude. i deleted it because your comment made it clear that i hadn’t expressed my point very clearly.

  22. Carmen says:

    I finally wrote mine - but it’s no where near as kind as yours.

    You might not want to be my friend anymore……

  23. Anonymous says:

    my first thought when I see a large family is: I wonder what thier names are??

    also always think ……..Lucky ………some people can be so rude.

  24. tiff says:

    You make me laugh! You sound like a great mom. I love reading your blog as well as Carmen’s. You guys don’t take things too seriously and you keep it real. Whoever said the comment about 2.5 kids is all that is acceptable these days is right. I only have 3 kids and I get comments all the time. “How do you do it?” “Your hands are full” “You know what causes that right?” My sil even says “here they come with all those kids.” I want to scream we have 3 not 33! I love Carmen’s comment about oh you only have two…..money must be tight. People really should keep comments to themself. Comments regarding someone’s sexual orientation, religious beliefs, even where they stand politically are off limits because they are “offensive”. So why are these comments not? Your family sounds delightful! Thanks for sharing. ;)

  25. Michelle says:

    I get these comments all the time too… the worst was from a woman that after seeing my 5 girls and only 1 boy said, “It’s too bad those girls couldn’t be boys… what a waste” right in front of all the kids.

    Most often I don’t give negative responses either but I always want to. I always explain to my children though afterward how much they are loved and wanted and we are so blessed to have them. I guess I’m amazed as I would never ask someone why they stopped having children, didn’t have any children, etc. This is a huge pet peeve of mine!!!

  26. Meg says:

    I also have to say that I feel sorry that you had to go through the wringer that I call “public concern over motherhood” SEVEN times - I hated complete strangers inquiring about my plans to breastfeed or not, have an epidural, or losing weight when I was pregnant. I’m amazed that you lived through those questions all those times.

  27. blackbird says:

    people are often just plain stupid.

    I have three boys
    20, 15 and 11 now…but stupid people have said all kinds of things to us -

    three boys! you must have your hands full!

    so far apart? same father?

    gee, I bet your mom would love a baby girl!

    My Middle used to be hurt when people gave us the ‘hands full’ line.

  28. B.E.C.K. says:

    Although I can see how many of the questions are rude and mean-spirited, some of them strike me as simple curiosity and I can’t help wondering if we (I include myself) are a bit overly sensitive at times. People ask me different questions (like “Is he your only?” or “When do you think you’ll have more?” when I desperately wish I *could* have more), but they still ask questions. I think people are often just curious about other people and maybe it would be less stressful to give people the benefit of the doubt. Or you could do what Steve Martin does and print up a little business card to hand to people instead of talking to them. You could address the usual questions and have little boxes to check. I’ve often wanted to do that. ;^)

  29. cmhl says:

    that is unbelievably rude!!!

    when I was pregnant w/ my son, I was HUGE. massive. about to split open. anyway, I got a kick out of the people that would try to dance around the point of me being massively pregnant, and trying to get me to admit it. love it.

  30. Melissa says:

    You know what’s funny, I would love to have seven kids. I really would. I’m up to two, but we’ve been talking about #3. And who knows, we might get there one day. I love your tap shoes comment. People can be so rude. I think you should come up with a crazy thing to say to them and then just walk away. Truth is there are tons of people with two kids out there on welfare. It’’s not like you can tell, well at least not normally.

  31. J's Mommy says:

    i’m a new reader and didn’t realize you had 7 kids. is it rude to say, “wow, 7 little miracles ~ good for you!”

  32. Emily says:

    ugh; it’s amazing to me what some people feel entitled to ask (or know) about others who they don’t EVEN KNOW! baffling.

  33. B says:

    I think your kids are lucky to have so many siblings and grow up with so much love.

    My son is an only, not really by design, and I know that he is missing out on things that he could only experience with siblings. (I had three sibs, my husband had five.)

    My son is adopted (he’s Asian and we’re not) and we have HAD OUR FILL of comments over the years, mostly made IN FRONT OF HIM, as though he weren’t even a person with ears to hear and feelings to be hurt.

    I guess rudeness is universal.

  34. Dana says:

    Hi! Just found your blog and was killing myself laughing at this post!

    I get those comments all the time and I only have 4 kids.

    People can be so ignorant. ;)

  35. DollyMama says:

    I added my alternative experience on this issue at my blog.
    http://dollymama.blogspot.com/2006/03/large-family-issues-comments-from.html

  36. Annalise says:

    At least now I know what to send you for Christmas - you clearly need some tap shoes :-)

    You should move here; that whole British reserve thing probably makes people a lot less likely to interrogate strangers about their families. It certainly makes them less chatty in general.

  37. Melanie says:

    I am expecting #5 and have started getting some of the ruder comments. (I’d been getting the “hands-full” comment since pg w/ #3, but people are starting to get more outspoken/nosy/rude.) It bugs me, but I think even more so, I don’t want my kids to hear the negative comments.

  38. Sherri Wilkerson says:

    I swear by He who is holy that when I was in labor with my THIRD child the nurse came in- while I was in labor- to ask me if I was interested in any sterilization procedures….

  39. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry you have had to endure such blatant rudeness! I only have two children but wish I had the patience for more. I’m always full of nothing but admiration for moms with lots of little ones!

  40. mmc says:

    I only have 3 and have gotten most of those. Also, mine are too young to understand that people are being rude, and so I can’t imagine how terrible that must make you feel.

    I LOVE big families, and yours seems like such a fun bunch.

  41. deputyswife says:

    I just posted about this last week. People are amazed that we have three boys so close in age. I am like you, usually I smile and nod. Though, in my head I am screaming comebacks that would make their toes curl.

    Number 13 made me laugh out loud. I actually get people that drop off huge garbage sacks full of boys clothes. If we are not home, they will leave it on our back porch. The sacks are 80% full of worn and torn clothes. Like I want to dress my boys in that?!? Spring is rolling around again, this is when we get the most “drop offs”. While I appreciate what they are trying to do, I wish they would stop and think.

  42. meredith says:

    14 more examples of all the stupid people out there, sorry you have to hear stuff like that, you seem quite fine and normal to me

  43. Kim says:

    Hi Chris! You knew I couldn’t leave this topic untouched. So I joined in on the large family weekly discussion.

    http://kmomof10.blogspot.com/

    Take Care!
    Kim

  44. Erin says:

    Wow. People are such idiots. Believe it or not, I’ve had a couple of comments and I only have two…so far.
    My brother has 5, and he gets this sort of thing all the time… it’s almost as if people are angry that they have 5 children. I believe that in their heart, most people are just jealous. Afterall, what else is life all about, if not giving love to your family?

  45. KaraMia says:

    I’m the youngest of five kids and I remember my mom always getting comments on that. I always thought people with less kids must be really lonely. In the end I just figured that you only get what God thinks you can handle…and lord knows that goes for more then just children.

  46. Katie says:

    I love ya Chris, you’re the best. Although I kinda wish my van did beep when I backed up. hehe

  47. harvestmoon says:

    Even in Mexico we’re getting comments. I used to get some comments (though not quite so rude) with my 4 plus one or two daycare kids, but here in Mexico, there seems to be admiration and not displeasure or disgust or rudeness.

    You need to move to Mexico. Plus they have beaches. :)

  48. Chuck Pierce says:

    You are both way to nice. hehe I am not and I have freaked out a few folks who ask us.
    i posted mine as per usual

  49. nrp says:

    You’ve left out the one where you are berated for adding to the world’s over-population problem. “We’re just doing our part to counteract the asses like yourself”, my parents would say.

    How much milk? I remember my mother once telling a woman that she still breastfed all of us (I’m the eldest of 6, I’ve heard it all).

  50. B.E.C.K. says:

    On overpopulation: I’ve been told that this is a myth (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=overpopulation+myth for starters). You could read up and have some stock answers to counter anyone who challenges you on this. My guess is they haven’t done any research on it and will clam up. :-)

  51. O_Scientist says:

    I often use the ‘We are trying to outnumber the idiots’ when people hit me with the overpopulation card.

    Sharing my experiences with large families comments in today’s blog entry. It also has a link to The Official Large Families FAQ (with suggested replies)

    This Wednesday thing is fun, glad that you and Carmen started it, thank you.

    Karen

  52. tammie says:

    Wow, I can’t believe some of the stupid things people say! Then again, I really shouldn’t be surprised, people sometimes are just so stupid, they don’t even think about how their comments or questions will be received.
    As someone who doesn’t have kids, but has a lot of “toys”, I am constantly getting the old, “must be nice” or “how much money do you make”, which I think is incredibly rude. Whenever someone asks me something that I would rather not answer, I respond with, “Why do you need to know?”, which usually shuts them up.
    Thanks for the post, bummer people think you some sort of display when you go out with all the kids.

  53. Liz says:

    Sheesh some people are rude. I have a big age gap between my two - 7+ years - and occasionally get comments about that, but usually they’re polite ones.

    I think that, with homeschooling Ms 8, I’m growing a much thicker skin. I get asked all the same questions again and again and am coming up with my stock answers, delivered with a smile. But again, they’re usually polite questions. I don’t know how I’d respond to rude, judgemental ones… probably not as politely as you do!

  54. moe says:

    I put up my thoughts about this on my site

  55. Anonymous says:

    People should just mind their own busness Chris

    Two has always stuck me as a very silly number. The current theory is that those who have a lot of kids will in the end win out by sheer biology due to numbers. You are passing your genes on, not the sillies who have the one or two kids. In your contry the joke is that those of Hispanic descent are really only recolonising what Mexico surrendered to the US as many people of Hispanic origin have larger families

    My mother had seven of us and she bluntly told stick beaks to mind their own business. I only have the 3 and I get very silly comments form those who are numerically and mentally challenged that 3 is a large family oh yeah since when. We wihsed we could have had 4-5 but no such luck. In the long run all you really have is your family.

  56. Lisa says:

    I go through the same crap. I just heard the good ol’ “Did you figure out what caused that yet?” and actually put it in my profile the other day. I also was asked 3 weeks ago if we received any sort of government help for anything. I don’t mind, “Wow, six girls?” and other questions, but for the love of God - the ones that ask me if I’m Catholic, were they all planned, how many were accidents, etc…I can only pray they wind up with a ton of kids. “Better you than me!” Well, exactly what does that mean? I asked someone that once, and they actually didn’t say another word.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Holy Crap….people are more rude today than when I was a kid growing up with 7 brothers and sisters….yes, there were eight of us. The only thing I can remember people saying to my mother at the store was “Are they all yours?” As an adult my father in law comments quite frequently that my mother should of learned to keep her legs together. So the ignorance continues…I make sure that my Father in Law knows that under no circumstances is that EVER an acceptable comment about my mother. When your children are all grown, like my brothers and sisters are now, they will look back at the wonderful things they experienced because they were part of such a large group. My childhood memories are much more iteresting to talk about today (actually damn funny) than any story of my husbands or friends from smaller families. As a grown adult with 2 children of my own, I now believe my mother is nothing short of a Saint herself, and even though at the age of 70 she is a little “off” she is propbably the most giving woman I know. Look at the way my mother always did when I was growing up….”If someone is making some rude comment about you or ticking you off, they are likey leaving some other poor sole alone for the time being”. Of course my comment back to her sarcasticly was always…”Great Mom, I love knowing I am “HELPING” someone out”! My mother raised 8 children, kept us out of harms way, loved us, taught us wonderful things, and made us all complete and decent adults, and in the world we live in today, that is nothing short of PERFECTION in my book. Your sense of humor will always afford you the best of everything, no matter how many children you have.

    Kathleen

  58. Anonymous says:

    People ARE rude - but sometimes I think they are just curious: how DO you do it? And, sometimes, it’s jealousy - they would like to have a large family, but don’t think they could manage it - financially or emotionally or whatever - and then they see you succeeding at it! And finally, for some of us, the desire to have a large family didn’t match up with our spouses’ desires and/or our reproductive systems were defunct and so to see someone so fertile with a spouse that obviously agrees generates a pain that is, unfortunately, expressed through a rude comment. This is not to excuse the rudeness, but merely to point out that all rudeness doesn’t come from lack of courtesy. ;-)

  59. cjmr says:

    Even with only two (hoping for at least one more, but trying to convince the husband is like climbing Everest) I still get rude comments.

    “Oh, how nice! A boy and a girl! You can stop now!”

    If I’d been given a dollar for every person who said that to me in daughter’s first three months, I’d have been able to keep her in diapers for months with the money.

    My best friend who has three boys and then a girl gets a lot of comments about how isn’t it great that she can stop now, too.

  60. Marylena says:

    I’m with you, CJMR.

    “A girl and a boy. You’re done!” as if I’d won the lotto.

    Or my favorite: “One of each!”

    Each what? What does that mean anyway? They’re individuals.

    It’s as if my second child would have been worth less had he been a girl instead of a boy. Also, it’s implied that if he had been a girl, then, and only then, would it have been okay to pursue a third child, just to get that other gender.

    Of course, maybe a little of it, at least from my grandparents generation, is the idea of getting a boy to “carry on the family name”, but I couldn’t care less about that.

    Mostly, I just think people in the U.S., where I am, go for “gender balancing”… but still.

    Now, we hope to add a third and I’m getting things like:

    - “but you already have both a boy AND a girl”.

    - “Wow. THREE… That’s a big family.”

    - “Two is enough.” as if this is a fact

    - “I think one is enough. That way they have all my attention, time, [possessions]…”

    - “Your house is too small for three children.”

    - “If you have three, than two of them would have to SHARE A ROOM!” *gasp*

    - “Three… okay… But you’re not going to have FOUR, are you?” like it’s a disease.

    - “Children should not outnumber the parents.”

    - “How are you going to afford to pay for their college?”

    and I’ll finish with my personal favorite…

    - “We’re only going to have two, because we want to do things with our lives.”

    I can’t even comment on the stupidity of this last one. Hey, all you parents with more than two… Were you aware you’re not doing anything with your life? *roll eyes*

  61. Jody says:

    People can be so rude!

    I posted mine a day late.

  62. Lori says:

    If you ever see me staring at your family, it’s because I’m so insanely jealous. I wish we could have had more but my plumbing quit working. So we adopted two more but adoption is quite a bit more money up front than making your own so I don’t think we’ll be adopting any more.

    People are thoughtless and stupid and rude. Aren’t you glad they don’t have more children?

  63. Laura says:

    People are such rude assholes!

    We have a big family too - two sets of toddler-age twins, plus a 10-year-old - and we hear all those same comments all the time too. Gah!

  64. Emily says:

    I only have one child, with a second son on the way. So we’ll have two boys, and could not be more thrilled. But now that people know, I keep hearing “will you try again for a girl”. And the answer is no. We’re happy with two for our own reasons (some financial). But if we do try for more children, it won’t be for gender. I could never have a daughter and honestly be fine with that. I’d be equally happy to have a daughter.

    I think moms have their hands full no matter how many kids, but I am sure you keep busy! Good for you! Next time you get any comments, just say “Our genes were so good, we just had to pass them on!”.

  65. Maliavale says:

    Can I be rude to those people for you? God, that is just absurd that people say things like that! Your kids seem wonderful.

  66. Maddy says:

    One of my best girlfriends has four children, their baby is the only boy and I have two boys. I save the very best of my clothing for her, and would never imagine giving anything worn out or old. I look forward to seeing her son overjoyed at the Spiderman pj’s or the Buzz Lightyear t-shirt.
    I envy the noisy love that greets us when we visit. They are the most polite children who just giggle and laugh all day long. Their eldest daughter has a wonderful way of breaking up tussles and sorting out the smaller two.
    I must say I do wonder how much milk she goes through as my own two boys drink a lot, but I’d never be so rude as to ask.
    Parents of larger families are special parents who have been blessed with the gift of patient and kind souls.

    I envy the large family and wish I was braver and had more faith that the lord would provide no matter what. Good on you and may you be blessed with as many children as your heart desires.

  67. Toni says:

    Here’s a nice addition to the public assistance one, said LOUDLY (so all the kids could hear) to my friend while pregnant and out w/her 3 girls:

    “There goes more of our tax dollars.”

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