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people are strange

people are strange

August 5, 2007

People say weird things to me all the time. Usually they say these odd things right after they find out how many children I have. (Just ask Susan, she took way too much pleasure in telling people how many children I have just to see their reaction.)

There are times when people find out I have seven children and they turn on their heel and never make eye contact with me again, much less speak to me. Because clearly someone who has not mastered birth control is not intelligent enough to converse with. Or else they think it might be contagious, who knows.

But mostly people say things that are odd, yet amusing. One of my favorites is the shocked look with the simple, “How??” Like their shock is so great they can not speak in complete sentences any longer. One of our cab drivers in Chicago asked if I had a television. It’s been awhile since I heard that one.

The grocery store is always good for a comment or two. Probably because even if I don’t have the children with me I am still buying obscene amounts of food that must be commented on, like it is weird to buy 10 packages of popsicles at once or something.

This morning I ran to the grocery store for a few things, which of course ended up filling two carts. It just seems a shame to pass by food we like that the store has marked down this week. For example, my little carnivores love ribs. They had huge party size, or family size in the case of my family, packages of ribs for $1 a pound.

My former vegan self weeps. But only until I slather them with barbeque sauce and throw them on the grill.

My husband has this thing about buying produce in advance. He thinks we should go to the farmer’s market daily and buy the vegetables that we want to eat for that day only. Otherwise it won’t be fresh! I am trying to introduce him to the thoroughly modern concept of refrigeration that keeps fresh veggies and fruits fresh…just like it does the milk and eggs! But his aged mind is having trouble grasping it. So I often end up filling my cart with an odd assortment of foods that makes it seem as though I am trying to have my children get scurvy.

So I’m at the checkout the cashier is is ringing me out. I had 8 boxes of cereal. Which might seem like a lot until to take into consideration that 2 boxes make one breakfast for my kids. The cashier is passing them one by one over the price thingy when she looks up at me and says, “You havin’ a party?”

For a moment I didn’t know what to say. So many thoughts were running through my head.

Primarily, do people have parties and serve their guests cereal? Because that would be sort of awesome. If so, why have I never been to one?

I came home, put the groceries away, and then realized I forgot bread, one of the four things I actually went to the store to buy. I did manage to buy 4 packages of bagels, hamburger buns, hot dog rolls, and hard rolls, but apparently none of them can be used for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and how dare I even suggest such a thing!

Suitcase update: still packed.

Posted by Chris @ 11:54 pm  

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  1. chickadee says:

    “Primarily, do people have parties and serve their guests cereal? Because that would be sort of awesome. If so, why have I never been to one?”

    wonderful phrase. i’m laughing out loud. i hope you said, yes, i am having a cereal party.

  2. Sueb0b says:

    I am glad about the suitcase. Because if you were perfect at that in addition to being smart, funny, and beautiful, I just could NOT stand it.

  3. anne nahm says:

    I agree - a cereal party sounds ten times wonderful.

  4. Chris says:

    Are you going somewhere? Just kidding. I know with 7 kids you are surely a little more than busy. Maybe it is a Freudian thing because you had such a good time you want to go somewhere else now, kid free of course. Just sayin’.

  5. Jeana says:

    Of course, you’ve never been to a cereal party? That’s how the expression, “Cheerio” came about. In some countries that’s how people get their Kix.

    You wanna avoid the ones where they’re turning Trix.

    Count Dracula is good for a Halloween theme.

    And if you’re going to do one on a regular basis, you probably want to make All Bran your theme. Those parties will REALLY get you moving.

  6. Deputy's Wife says:

    “You havin a party?”

    That cracks me up!

    I get lots of looks when I am out with three boys. An (older) lady once said to me “Oh, can you believe having THREE boys so close together? Oh my.” I replied, “No, I can’t believe it. That is why I take prozac to keep me from reality.”

  7. JCK says:

    “People say wierd things to me all the time.”

    Thanks for making me laugh today! It never ceases to surprise me what people will say. Usually total strangers, often in the check-out line where they’ve got you cornered and for some reason, usually women, which somehow seems more of a betrayal. Having 2 children who are only 10 months apart, I’ve had many an eyebrow raised and a comment thrown out at me. The best was, “Couldn’t control yourself, could ya, honey!”

  8. Lauren says:

    Would it be different for this family with 17 kids? Or maybe once you have more than three, people just think you have “a lot” of kids (or a lot of parties)?


  9. OMSH says:

    Of course you know you rock the grocery aisle in a big way.

    Just give the kids a big ol’ peanut butter spoon and a dab of jelly on the side. Believe me, we’ve done this.

  10. Still Standing says:

    I only have three children, but I had them so close together that I received a lot of commentary as well. The one that I heard the most often was, “Don’t you KNOW how that happens???” To which I began replying, “Yes, and there in lays the problem. . . . He just like SOOO hot!”

    So what did you say to the cashier??

  11. elasticwaistbandlady says:

    I’ll never forget the day that a solicitor came to the door, glanced around at the jumbled mass of 6 kids and their explosion of toys, and asked me if I ran a home day care. When I told her ‘NO, these are all my chillens,’ she just walked away muttering something about how I couldn’t possibly afford the magazines she was peddling.And I thought to myself, ‘Yay, finally an all-natural salesman deterrent has been discovered!’

    In a fit of grocery store-deprived desperation, I once made my kids eat peanut butter and jelly on tortillas for lunch……and they lived to tell the tale.

  12. Marianne says:

    I think a cereal party would be totally acceptable. I mean, they have cereal restaurants, so why not?

  13. Salsaqueen says:

    Instead of thinking about your suitcase as unpacked from this years BlogHer, think of it as early preparation for NEXT year’s BlogHer!

  14. Jackie says:

    That was too funny! I always just stand there with nothing to say when people make their comments to me. Usually I can think of something funny…much later! That cereal comment would have been a great zinger!! Lately, I have just heard people counting my kids [6] and whispering, but not saying anything directly.

  15. jm says:

    Darling Chris, I’m sure that some of those folks who say “How??!” are looking at you and your svelte little figure and wondering, “BUT WHERE DID SHE PUT THEM???!!”

    I used to get ruffled when folks would say silly things to me about the house. Now, I silently thank them because those things make great blog material.

    And cereal party = most excellent idea.

  16. genpoco says:

    I have only wondered things like what detergent you use and if you have a clock like Molly Weasley’s in Harry Potter. (I even mentioned my complete faith in your sanity in a post the other day.) Maybe it’s because both sides of my family always had a large amount of children either naturally or Brady Bunch style - although not an Arkansas amount. I think a cereal party sounds fabulous. Just think of the choices! And the varieties of milk - everything from skim to soy!

  17. Antique Mommy says:

    Part of the “saying stupid stuff” has to do with the fact that you look like you should be on the cover of Seventeen Magazine and yet you have 23 children - and it’s a shock to the system. Aside from that I can’t explain all the other stupid stuff I probably said to you.

  18. Debbie H says:

    My personal favorite, “are they all yours?”. Always want to say something brillian like, “last time I checked” or “no, I found a couple of them on the way in”…people are funny, huh.

  19. Chris says:

    I use Tide. And only Tide.

    Antique Mommy,
    I assure you that you said nothing stupid to me. The again there was lots of free wine, so who could remember ;-)

  20. random stuff says:

    The bread thing is the reason my mom could stand us getting older, once my sister and I got our licenses we could be sent out for stuff that had been forgotten. After college when I would visit, I had my own car to run the errands in, and a cell phone which she could call and tell me other things we needed.

  21. Woman with Kids says:

    I’d love to go to a cereal party… Can I request Frosted Flakes?

  22. Rebecca says:

    I can relate but from a different POV. My parents divorced when I was 12 & four years later my dad remarried. He had me & my sister as well as custody of my cousin for years so he was more like my brother. His new wife had a son from her first marriage. They were young when they had kids the first go around & started their marriage with four kids {16, 13, 11 & 4) between them. They wanted to have kids together, originally thinking 1 or 2. Well I guess they ‘never figured out birth control’ either {read: pretty much let things happen as they would} and ended up having 5 kids of their own. Their youngest being younger than mine. Our family gets odd looks & questions often. Since 3 of us are out of the house already - two married, one with kids, the shopping isn’t as big as it could be but large shopping trips are the norm. They aught to get a couple cows, one for milk & one for meat - a pig and some chickens wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.

  23. Mary Alice says:

    BTM - Before the Military - we lived waaaaaay out in the mountains of Northern California. 80 miles from the nearest stoplight. A great tragedy befell our little mountain community when the General Store burnt down. So, consequently we were forced to drive all that way to the town with stoplights to stock up on groceries. We would go every three weeks or so and you can imagine the quantities of cereals, powdered milk, flour, butter etc. Strange looks as you completely filled the bed of a pickup and had brought your own coolers to try to make it back with the perishables.

  24. Busy Mom says:

    From the “Whatever it’s Worth” files:

    1. I have several friends with 7, or more, children. I know how they got them.

    2. My suitcase is still packed.

  25. peepnroosmom says:

    I would definitely come to your house if you had a cereal party.

  26. Mir says:

    Didja get Honey Nut Cheerios? Cuz that seems sort of partyish.

  27. sarcastic journalist says:

    Oooh…. little cups of cereal on a plate…it is the new it thing.

    My suitcase (tape and all) has magically disappeared. I think the unpacking fairy came for a visit!

  28. Traci says:

    I get the “Don’t you have cable??” one a lot, along with, “Better find out what keeps making that happen,” and “Do they all have the same father?”, and because of my childrens age differences, “Oh was she an Oops?” Just lovvvve people!

    I just moved to Texas and every time I have been to the store they look at me funny for buying 6+ boxes of cereal, 5 loaves of bread at a time and muliple gallons of organic milk. WTF am I the only person with 6 kids here…or do my kids just eat a heck of a lot??!!

    So relieved to know that I am not the only one!

  29. coloradomommy says:

    I always thought I wanted a large family. I babysat and nannied and worked in daycare centers my whole life and then went into education as a profession. Then I had kids. And stopped at two. And sometimes, on my bad days, reading your blog brings up some feelings of failure. But I would never take that out on you in person, were I to see you buying loads o’ cereal at the store. Because, even on my bad days, I have some tact. Some. I might stare a little.

  30. fidget says:

    cereal parties would rule!

  31. qtpies7 says:

    Well, we most certainly are not alone! LOL
    I love the comments and try to keep a good supply of funny coments on hand for the usual questions/comments.
    “Are they all yours?” “No, I left the ugly ones at home.” hehe.
    Gotta have a sense of humor. If I keep popping them out like ice from the ice dispenser I’ll need a few new come-backs, though! LOL

  32. MamaLady says:

    When you write about people making these comments to you, I just shake my head. Perhaps it is because I have always wanted a large family. These comments must get old, very quickly. The Southern Belle in me just wants to say “Bless your heart”.
    I’ll host the cereal party. Sounds like fun.

  33. whoorl says:

    Cereal! I knew something was missing from Wito’s birthday party. GAH.

  34. elasticwaistbandlady says:

    When my 6 kids were younger and people asked me “Do you know where they came from?!!!?” I’d lean in and tell them, “Yes, and the sex is so fantastic, I’m surprised we don’t have a dozen by now.”


  35. Jenn says:

    I had cereal parties in college. They started out as keggers…ended up as cereal parties in the morning when the hangers-on got hungry.

  36. Susan says:

    It’s a shame you haven’t been to a cereal party yet. They’re all the rage.

  37. ~Tammy~ (cowmomba) says:

    There is a reply I use for the “Don’t you have a television” comment. I say “yes- it keeps the older kids busy while we make more.”
    The person is usually dumbfounded enough by then to realize it was a rude comment- but not always.

    My DS#1 now has 5 kids. We attended a class together and he was showing off pictures of my grandkids. One guy there says “I can show you what causes that!”. I didn’t miss a beat- “Maybe he ought to show YOU- he pretty much has it down pat!”

  38. Heidi says:

    You think you have a lot of children, check this out…
    I have to agree though. People just seem to have lost all common sense and people skills. It’s like there mouth doesn’t have a brain. And maybe they mean it different than it sounds, but sometimes you really have to wonder.

  39. Cathy says:

    >>I did manage to buy 4 packages of bagels, hamburger buns, hot dog rolls, and hard rolls, but apparently none of them can be used for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and how dare I even suggest such a thing!>>

    One of my favorite sayings is “If you are really hungry, you’d eat that…” Surprisingly, they are never really dying of hunger as they claim.

    Usually, I get the same reaction after I tell people I homeschool - they cease to speak to me OR they proceed to tell me about all the other people they know that homeschool and why they can’t possibly do that themselves.

  40. Christina says:

    Don’t you just love people?

  41. Y says:

    But has anyone ever asked you if all of your kids are from the same dad? Because when I told a lady I had three kids, she said “all from the same dad?”

    Next year, we’re serving cereal at our hotel room party. ;-)

  42. Susan says:

    >>>There is a reply I use for the “Don’t you have a television” comment. I say “yes- it keeps the older kids busy while we make more.”

  43. Susan says:

    What I tried to say (above) was that I LOVE that comeback! I can’t believe how stupid these people are, or how they think they’re so ORIGINAL and clever with their little quips like, “Haven’t you figured out yet what causes that?”

    Har-dee-har-har, buddy. Don’t quit your day job.

  44. Esme says:

    This happens to me all the time, and I’m usually tounge-tied when it happens. This weekend, there was an open house at my 2 1/2-year-old’s preschool, and I had all 5 kids with me. One of the parents asked, “Are all of these kids yours?” and my toddler answered before I could: “Of course! She’s da Mama!”

    My favorite is when whoever’s been rude tries to recover with a compliment. I usually get, “Wow…um… you look so young to have 5 kids!” Which would be sweet if it weren’t for the fact that I’m 35 with plenty of gray hair and obviously not looking all that “young.”

  45. Holly Smith says:

    I wish you had told her that every day is a party at your house :)

    We took our four to the movies on Saturday night and I had a lady ask me, “How are you doing? I mean four kids…wow!” I answered that we are great and I love being their Mom.
    Have a wonderful day!

  46. Maddy says:

    Whoo hoo! Cereal party!

    I hate buying food for (ONLY) 4 people and a dog. I mean, it just wears me out! So I’m not sure what I’d do with a big family. Internet delivery? I don’t know. Cause the unfortunate thing with groceries is that people keep eating them and you need more. Over and over. Plus if I had to make conversation about my groceries repeatedly, it would be extra worse.

    My kids would be the same way about bread vs. bagels, etc. They are not very flexible that way.

  47. Tricia says:

    My favorite? When people see my kids and remark how “they could be sister’s” Um, they are! Or, You know how you can stop that, right? Like it’s my fault that Meth addicts keep popping out kids and need homes…????

  48. diana says:

    I am the oldest of 7 kids!! I know all about the grocery store and the looks/comments that we would get. I can’t remember my mom ever really getting angry though, she would just finish her shopping and not look back.

  49. Mrs. Chicky says:

    So that’s why people never come to my parties. I don’t serve cereal. Jeez.

  50. The Wooden Porch says:

    Cereal Parties. That’s funny!

    We used to have dinner every Sunday evening with a British family and after dessert, the mister would always pour himself a bowl of cereal, but he never offered any of it to us. It always looked so good that we would often come home and have a bowl ourselves.

  51. Leah says:

    I’ve been saying for years that I need to get a shirt that says “I *heart* my quints” because I always buy so much at the grocery store. We regularly get a dozen boxes of cereal in one trip–and all for me!

  52. Mrs. Schmitty says:

    I can’t imagine having to shop for that many! I can hardle handle it for a family of 5! Wow!

    P.S. I’d come to your cereal party as long as you have frosted mini-wheats!

  53. Shash says:

    I think that it is awesome that you have seven kids! Yay for you guys. If I didn’t have really bad morning sickness and my oldest wasn’t on the autistic spectrum, I’d be matching you kid for kid!

    Mmmmmmmmm, ribs. If you can hold out until November, I will personally arrive on your doorstep and unpack your suitcases. Payment can be rendered in ribs; or chinese food, I’m not picky.


  54. Christine says:

    How could you possibly find the time to unpack your suitcase when you’re clearly having all the sex?!

  55. Christine says:

    Oh, and you should do a potluck cereal party. I’ll bring Lucky Charms and Basic 4.

  56. kalisah says:

    I was wondering - when you go to the grocery store alone and buy 2 carts of groceries, what do you do with the first one while you’re filling the second? Do you simply park it on the laundry supply aisle? How do you keep the clerks from returning the “abandoned” groceries to the shelf?

  57. Moose says:

    I’m totally serving cereal at my next party.

  58. Jessica says:

    I love your blog :) It always makes me smile. I’m sorry people make such stupid comments. Next time you need to come up with a witty comment, like you live under ground and only get to come up once every few months LOL. (okay I know that’s not a good one, but you get the idea).

  59. Chris says:


    I push one cart in front of me and pull the other one behind me.

  60. Virginia says:

    My suitcase is still packed too and I didn’t even get to BlogHer. I like to keep one by the door just in case. If our 6 kids ever figure out that there is power in numbers and rise up against me, I’d like to be able to make a quick getaway!

  61. tori says:

    You are completely excellent. I have four kids and get exactly the same comments. The grocery store always makes me feel bad that I have so much food, as if it takes so long to ring up. In reality they should be kissing my feet because I can single handedly keep them in business!

    You rock, and I love the comment on the cereal. Two boxes of cereal makes about one breakfast in our house too, and mine are only 9,7,7 and 3!

  62. kalisah says:

    holy crap. that’s even more work than I expected.

  63. Crisanne says:

    I get the “You have your hands full!” EVERY time we go out in public. And I only have 3 kids.

    The best one ever was a lady who looked at me in horror as we walked in the door and said “Oh good Lord in Heaven!” What’s with that??

  64. Jenna says:

    Primarily, do people have parties and serve their guests cereal? Because that would be sort of awesome. If so, why have I never been to one?

    That’s a party I want to go to as well! Can you see it? Bowls with various kinds of cereal? Oh, my son would go crazy! (And my Husband.) (And me.)

  65. Mom101 says:

    Depends on the cereal.

    Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch = party

    Fiber One = not so much

  66. Joy H says:

    I can only imagine the comments you get b/c I get PLENTY with my four (close in age & all blond/blue-eyed). I get the most random stuff and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

  67. Jackie @ Family Daze says:

    From a fellow mother of seven, I get comments every single time I go to the grocery store. I’ve started blogging about it regularly.

  68. EJS says:

    My wife and I so appreciate the humor in the truth of our collective lives as parents…esp. when phrased by modern day poets such as yourself. I have just served the dinner for the evening to my 3, 5, and 7 yr. olds–> Cereal w/ 1/2 PB sand. and was thinking of your site.
    The common ? I am asked is also my second most irritating pet peeve (#1 is drivers not using blinkers). This from bank tellers and store clerks alike. Q:”So you’re baby sitting / playing Mr. Mom ?” A: No these children belong to me, in fact I delivered almost all of then AND THEY CALL ME D A D !
    We are “blessed” with six (14-12-7-5-3-1)Never a dull moment. And yes, I do take all of them to Home Depot, Costco wherever, whenever so the Mrs. can actually attempt to regain the sleep hours lost with our little Lily (1).
    Your site was sent to us by a friend and I couldn’t stop reading aloud last night to my wife even though it was a little past midnight. Let us just say…we so relate.
    Thank you and we look very forward to you future postings!
    I have actually really enjoyed this very rare window of opportunity to sit and type…this is how it formed:
    1 yr. old (even after already napping for two hours), is left with me along with the 3, 5, and 7 yr. olds. 14’s at a friends and the 12’s with Mom out on a “girls night out”.
    Step 1~
    1yr. old actually throws her self into such a fit I really think she even impressed herself–so much that she went back to sleep! SCORE ! (Basis for fit: not allowing her to thrash my cell phone)
    Step 2~
    3 yr. old (who did not nap today :-)) Fell fast asleep right at the end of Mary Poppins. SCORE !
    Step 3~
    Contemplate making french toast for dinner (lasted 3 sec.’s) easily chose the “Hey kids, how about cereal for dinner!” routine–no problem. SCORE

    1 yr. old has woken up. SMILE

    ~ EJS

  69. Fairly Odd Mother says:

    LOL at the ‘Cereal Party” thought.

    I get those odd looks and pauses when we tell someone new we homeschool. I usually see a flicker pass over their eyes as they process the info.

  70. suburban turmoil says:

    I’m now thinking a cereal party for BlogHer 08 might be even more fun than a cheeseburger party. Is it possible??