I got involved in a discussion with some friends the other night. One of them had posted an article that she had found online that listed things that shouldn't be said to someone who is childless. We came up with a whole list of things that shouldn't be said to someone who has "a lot of kids" (and yes, I know that "a lot" is subjective).
So here's the list that we came up with, in no particular order:
1. You know what causes that, don't you? As if having several children automatically means that you're an idiot or something. Yes, we know what causes children. Really, we do. At the risk of sounding crude, some of us really enjoy what causes children. But at the same time, some parents did not plan to have as many as they ended up with, some parents might have adopted or taken in someone else's children in an emergency, and some parents might have *gasp* planned to have a whole bunch of kids!
2. Oh, you have your hands full!!! Usually said to me at the grocery store when I'm in the middle of pushing a "car cart" with 120+ pounds of kid in it, trying to maneuver it through the aisles without taking off an end display or amputating anyone's body parts. I love when people ask me that and I only have 3 of the kids with me - I just smile sweetly and say "not today, I only have 3" and continue walking.
3. Are they all yours? Duh. Do you really think that I'd voluntarily bring this many kids to the grocery store/library/church function/doctor appointment? Yes, they're all mine. I have always hated that question for so many reasons: (a.) It's rude. (b.) It makes the kids feel like we are freaks because someone doesn't believe that they all belong to me. (c.) On the off chance that I do have someone else's kid with me, it makes that kid feel like an outsider.
4. Wow, your older kids must help you to raise the younger kids. What a shame. While this may be true in some families, it is not true in mine. I am raising my kids. Yes, the older kids help with the younger ones - it's only natural - but they are not "raising" their younger siblings.
5. I wish that I could have that many kids so that I could qualify for public assistance too. Wow. Really? I can't even begin to list the reasons as to why this one upsets me (and yes, I've heard it several times) so let's just leave it as one of the things to NEVER say to anyone. Never. OK? Good.
6. Were you trying for a basketball/football/soccer team? Yes, because that's my life goal. I want them all to forego their individuality and play the same sport for the rest of their lives. Get real - I can't even get them to play nicely together for an hour at a time! My actual plan in having 5 kids is so that I can have a brain surgeon, a lawyer, a dentist, a rocket scientist, and a movie star. I want to live in the lap of their luxury - or at least have them put me in a really cushy nursing home.
7. You must spend all of your time doing laundry! Thank you, Captain Obvious! Yes, I spend a great deal of time doing laundry - their laundry - but yet mine rarely ever gets done. So while they are clean and neat, I look like I just landed a starring role in the next "People of WalMart" video. Every time I get ready to throw a load of mine in, there's another load of peed-on sheets materializing....and you can bet that the stinky stuff gets washed before mine does.
8. I just don't know how you do it - I would go crazy! BWAHAHAHA!!!! Are you insinuating that I'm NOT crazy? Look at me - I have 5 kids! I could probably be diagnosed as clinically insane if I had the time to go see a shrink, for crying out loud! Yes, I'm crazy - but it's all a part of my charm, and it helps me to not take life so stinkin' seriously. For real.
9. Feeding all of those kids must be a challenge! Nope. I make a big pot of food, and put it in the middle of the kitchen floor. They all come running to it like a herd of wild animals and they fight to see who gets to eat it while I sit on the couch and eat bon-bons. Seriously? I make supper. I put it on their plates. They eat it. I clean up the mess. It's no worse than a dinner party or cooking for the extended family. It's all about perspective, people. Really.
10. I bet you can't wait until they're all in school! Duh. Of course I can't wait, and you want to know why? Because I can spend the first 4 hours that they're in school running around the house cleaning and doing laundry and actually getting it put away, and then maybe spend 2 hours running errands and going to the grocery store alone, and then spend an hour or so making phone calls while they're not screaming in the background - and then I go pick them up from school and it all starts over again. And if I get to the school early, I might be able to grab a 5-minute power nap before the bell rings and they climb into the van.
Long story short - think before you ask ridiculous questions. And if you ask them anyway, and you get a snippy answer - don't judge that parent. We all have good days and bad, and sometimes what you might think is an innocent question might be the very one that pushes the parent over the edge from Oh-I-Can-Handle-This to Come-Closer-And-I-Might-Just-Rip-Your-Head-Off.