Monday, February 24, 2014

Snappy Comebacks on Family Size for the Rest of Us

Plenty has been written for mothers of large families on how to respond to such remarks as:  "My, you have your hand full!" and, "Don't you have a TV?"  But it's not only mothers of many fielding unsolicited comments on the size of their families.  Oh no--your reproductive choices are fair game for anyone to give their opinion, whether they be family members or complete strangers, even if your family appears to be boring and normal-sized, meaning fewer than four children in most places in this country.  And it's always, always at the grocery store.

Either there's a big sign over the entrance that I'm too distracted to actually see informing people to leave their mouth filters at the door or else I never go anywhere in public except the grocery store. Hmm... Ok, I could definitely get out more.  No, there's definitely something about the grocery store.  Never happens at the library or thrift stores or fabric stores.  People who are smart enough to go to those places are smart enough to mind their own business, I suppose.  Even in my former life as a checkout girl people could and did say anything to their captive audiences in line with them.  One man in particular would update me weekly on the progress of his divorce.  ("She still won't sign the papers, even though she's moved in with the Other Man now.")  Some sociology or psychology student ought to write her thesis about the checkout line.

But this is an opportunity, they say.  A moment for evangelization, not snap-back snark!  I don't hold the two as mutually exclusive, but usually, yes I agree.  At least the truth should be more important than the cleverness.  Cleverness only in service of the truth.  Usually these remarks are well-meant, sometimes even approving of your assumed choices. But you only get one shot to shake them up a bit. Kindly, of course. However, you can only do so much evangelization in a one-liner.  The most important thing is not to get offended, but be good-humored and unapologetic.  Your demeanor communicates more than your words.  But don't be afraid to tell it like it is.  If they are family or someone you care about, you can tell them the truth. In those cases you may have an opportunity for more than a one-liner.  Use your judgment.  For the grocery store people, the checkout line is a safe space!  Whatever happens at Kroger stays at Kroger!

So for those of us who are committed to being open to life but are deceptively bourgeoisie-looking for the time being, I've compiled the following list:


"So you're done?" "Oh no, we're just getting started!"  "And never have another baby to cuddle?"  "I can't imagine not wanting another."  "I'm too young to be done!"

"What's the big rush to have children?"  "Why should we put off meeting the people we will love the most?"

"So snip snip for your husband, then?"  This one actually happened.  Perhaps the stupid look I gave her spoke volumes, or perhaps I just looked stupid.  Who knows.  But what I wish I had said?  "Castration is for cattle, not men."  I'm breaking my "always be magnanimous" mantra on this one, but I just cannot come up with anything fitting, because the remark is just so unfitting.  Maybe you could do better.  But back to the list.

"With just one child, you can give him all your attention.  You couldn't do that with more."   "It always feels like, somebody's WATCHin' meeeeee!"  "I'm grateful for my siblings, and I hope my child has the same blessing."  OR "I always regretted not having brothers and sisters, myself."

"Isn't it nice having two?"  "If two are this great, I'm willing to bet three are even better!"

"Are you sure you want another one?"   "Too late!" "I'm sure I won't regret it when I'm eighty."

"You're smart to just have two.  It's too expensive to have more."  "No, we're open to having more.  We think people are more important than things."

"You're so busy with the child(ren) you already have!"  "If they already take up all my time, another child could hardly take up any more."

"Trying for a girl?"  "If we get another boy, do you want him?"

And the big win here is for Anthony:
"An adorable boy and a girl!" How nice you can be done already!"
Me:  Thank you. I think I would like a few more of these.
Anthony:  I need a brother. And another sister.  And another brother.  One, two, three, four, five, eighteen babies!


So there you have it, snappy comebacks for the wannabes among us.  Hopefully these will hold us over until that frabjous day we can answer, "Don't you know what causes that?" with a nonchalant, "Yeah, I'm kind of an expert."

Linking up with Jen for 7 Posts in 7 Days!  Am I crazy or what?


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  2. I didn't realize you had a new blog! :) Love this posts, these are great lines. I haven't met with any overly rude comments yet; I get the "hands full" variety a lot and always have to agree with them! (I have also learned a lot about the existence of a tv show called My Three Sons, heh.)