The Bigger the Family, the Dumber the Comments From Strangers

Filed under: Opinions

It really only takes a visible baby in your belly for the opinionated idiots to come out of the woodwork. Your vagina somehow becomes a topic of conversation in the line at Starbucks and now your friendly barista knows way more about you than what you take in your coffee.

And then when you actually have the baby, it's like little so-and-so sends off an asshole beacon, inviting comments about everything from how your baby should be sleeping, eating and, hell, even pooping, from people you were perfectly fine never ever knowing. (And, most often, people who are in no place to be giving advice about raising children.)

But once you decide to procreate beyond two kids, it's like you moved to Doucheville -- where anyone who can count seems to think you need to know that.

"Wow, four kids! You have your hands full!"

Now, if I were some of you with only one or two kids, I'd be offended. Apparently you're underachievers. Wimps! Pussies! Your mediocre breeding efforts are not deserved of the Captain Obvious commentary, even though, technically speaking, your hands are indeed full.

No, you just get the "Oh, so when's the next one arriving?" questions. Lucky you.

I realize it doesn't sound offensive, this innocent, albeit completely inaccurate, observation. But I've yet to actually figure out why people take the time to say it when I'm convinced they're really trying to say something else.

For example:

  • Ugly man with zipper down holding a bottle of Jack and some Preparation H: "Why can't I find a woman who puts out like you?"
  • Twenty-something hipster with a basket full of lentils, gluten-free pasta, and her dog: "OMG I have four dogs and I can totally relate!!!!!"
  • Grandmotherly type in a motorized cart: "When are my ungrateful children going to have some beautiful grandchildren like yours?"
  • Frazzled mom chasing her one toddler around the store: "Are you fucking out of your mind?"

And of course, they all know you're with your children, so you can't respond with anything more than a gritted tooth grin and a "You betcha!" when really you'd like to tell them what they're full of.

"Sorry dude, I'm not a whore. Anymore."

On our first trip as a family of six a few weeks ago, a man made the effort to come up to us as I was chasing my kids and my husband was chasing our luggage in the baggage claim area.

"I just had to tell you that you guys are comical!" he said.

"Thank you!" I grinned, not even waiting to digest what he was actually saying. My husband was pissed, never having the pleasure of going anywhere with all the kids at once, which tends to earn me at least one comment like that from a complete stranger, though I admit, the whole "comical" thing was new to me.

"What's that supposed to mean!" he said, craning his neck to see where the guy was going.

"I have no idea," I replied, "But if we're comical, then he really needs to get out more."

What stinks is that constantly being on the defensive means you're ready to pounce on the next person who dares to speak to you. I nearly bit the head off of a lovely woman who only meant to congratulate me. "How lucky you are!" she said, sharing with me her infertility challenges in the Whole Foods line, her only child buckled sweetly in a shopping cart cover that was fitted carefully in her cart. "It took me over four years just to have her!"

"You can take this one off my hands!" I replied, pointing to my screeching toddler tossing organic overpriced cheese snacks at his sister.

Then I thanked her.

It's true. My hands are definitely full. And you know what? So is my heart.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.