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The Comments, They Sure Have Started - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
The Comments, They Sure Have Started
I overheard the first one a couple of weeks ago as I was supervising two kids feeding ducks. It was just an innocuous snippet, "...and another one on the way..." Now that I am temporarily doing the stay-at-home-mom thing I get to hear them several times a day, and some of them are a lot more openly judgmental. The main drift seems to be that I'm insane to be having another child.

It is by no means news to me that the vast majority of the population feels entitled to judge other people's parenting decisions, including family size. Most people seem to think that two kids is understandable, the notable exception being the vocally militant faction of the child-free movement who seem to think that no one should have any kids ever and the human race should die out with the current generation. I won't bother to go into the logistical fail of the latter. So, most people think two is the magic number and should be for everyone. If you have no kids you'll live to regret it, if you have one they are destined to be spoiled and/or lonely, and if you have three or more you are apparently insane.

I love kids, and I most especially love my kids. On a purely emotional level my gut reaction is to expect that most people want what I want: as many kids as they reasonably think they can afford to support. Intellectually I understand that this is not the case, and it's not such a huge leap to make. Small children are a lot of work. They are cute, and cuddly and awesomely rewarding. On the other hand they are pretty labor intensive to care for, and they will pee, poop and throw up on you. I'm all for people who don't want to have kids not having them, because given the amount of effort involved its not really not a good idea to coerce a person into being a parent. I can also understand the point of view of the mother of one of Margaret's fellow ballet students: "I can do a good job of raising one child, or a so-so job of raising two." One child is clearly right for her, and shame on anyone for trying to push her into having more. As far as I'm concerned family size is a decision for the individual family. I will admit to being a bit judgmental when people have kids they clearly can't afford to support or just don't want, but I do tend to keep my opinions to myself concerning specific instances. If you can give all your kids what they need (food, shelter, clothing, and lots of love), then I tend to assume people are making the decision that is best for them, even if that's no kids at all. It would be nice if everyone would make the same assumption about me.

The thing that really gets me about the comments I overhear is that I tend to overhear them when Margaret and Duncan are behaving well. That's probably because on the rare occasions when there is a public meltdown I can't overhear a damn thing. It makes me wonder, though, at the folks who think I'm insane for having a third when the two kids I do have are holding hands and walking nicely down the sidewalk chatting with each other. What's so insane about wanting more of that? I suppose some people worry about the world population, but replacement rate for population is 2.1 births per female and the US rate was down below 1.8 the last I heard. I can only assume that they think I'm insane because I want something they think I shouldn't, which would be less irritating if they kept their mouths shut. You may think my sanity is marginal, but my hearing is just peachy, thanks.

So far no one has said anything directly to me that has deserved a witty rejoinder other than "You're going to have your hands full." My standard reply to this is, "Better full hand than empty arms." The good thing about having both a boy and a girl already is that no one can accuse me of trying one more time to get a child of a different gender. The part of me in charge of composing witty rejoinders is just waiting for some fool to suggest that child #3 is an accident and/or I don't know how to prevent pregnancy. If your feeling creative I'd love to hear your take on possible witty rejoinders I can use for when that happens.
tallou From: tallou Date: June 19th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
When people (mostly strangers) found out I was having twins, I started getting (and still get) "Lucky you to be all done at once," and variations thereon. I hear it's even more intense for boy/girl pairs. That or "two for the price of one" which I always correct to "two for the price of two," lest I get seriously snarky.

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greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: June 19th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, because twins are so much easier than only having one tiny needy infant to deal with at a time. Yep. I really wanted twins when I thought it was my only reasonable chance of getting the three kids I wanted, but now that it looks like I'm getting my three a singleton at a time I can appreciate having done it this way. Having had two kids under two for a while I would never say that twins were two for the price of one. I'm sure there are advantages to having twins, and having two kids close in age I can see that, but they are balance by disadvantages.
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tallou From: tallou Date: June 19th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Twins are awesome, and we're starting to get into some marvelous times of playing together (peek a boo is awesome). But yeah, it has its difficulties, especially in the two babies period (and the pregnancy,which was not just a single pregnancy at the end of which poof there were two babies).

But passers-by do say the darnedest things, especially when they decide to be judgy about one's personal/family decisions.
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psychohist From: psychohist Date: June 19th, 2012 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, peek a boo with twins. It's awesome just thinking about it!
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Rachel Henry From: Rachel Henry Date: June 19th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)

boys boys boys

I have to admit, I did get sick of the "trying for a girl, eh?" comments when I was pregnant with Julian.

But, in general, I chalk up stupid comments more to "have to say something" syndrome, rather than malicious intent. Of course some people are malicious, but most of them just have to yammer on about something, and the first thing they say is usually pretty dumb.
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greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: June 19th, 2012 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: boys boys boys

I'll bet you did get sick of it. I suppose the thing that truly makes me grateful about starting off with a girl/boy pair before boy 2.0 arrives on the scene is that it cuts way down on the probability that some idiot will tell one of my kids that they have they "should" have been XX or XY instead of what they are. I can only assume that's something else you've had to deal with now that your boys are old enough for the idiots to yammer at them directly.

I do believe that the intent mostly isn't malicious, and I haven't seriously lashed out at anyone yet, but I must admit that my patience for the people who say stupid things just to say something got worn out by all the times I heard about the neighbor's cousin who tried everything, gave up and then got pregnant by accident on vacation in Aruba at 40 & variations on that theme I heard before Margaret came along.
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From: undauntra Date: June 19th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Feel free to tell them that you're making up for my slack. It looks like I'm probably never going to have kids at this point.
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greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: June 19th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
:( I'm sorry to hear that since if memory serves you want kids, and boy does wanting them only to be betrayed suck.
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From: undauntra Date: June 19th, 2012 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you.
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sichling From: sichling Date: June 19th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
*hugs* I understood how that felt when I was having problems.
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From: undauntra Date: June 19th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. Would you like to claim the other slot off my kid-quota? It's not like I'm using it. :)
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sichling From: sichling Date: June 19th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't have any particularly good rejoinders - "that's the plan" and "the other two are so great, who could resist" aren't particularly interesting.

Just FYI, I'm also pregnant with our third - a girl due in Oct - with an older boy & girl.

IMHO, having kids is awesome and way more fun than I ever realized.
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psychohist From: psychohist Date: June 19th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rejoinders when it's suggested #3 is an accident:

- "Oh no, not an accident, we're going to keep trying until we get a redhead." (Run your fingers through your hair when you say this.)

- "Yes, it turns out in vitro fertilization can still get you pregnant even if you use endometriosis for birth control. Who knew?" (Risk of followup stupid comment from people who don't know what IVF is, though)

General rejoinders:

- (Passive aggressive) "I really need the extra welfare payments."

- (If you feel the need to be truthful) "I figure you'll need people to pay into social security when you retire."

- (If you feel the need to be both truthful and nice) "I figure we'll need people to pay into social security when we retire."

Edit: None of these are recommended when the kids are in earshot, though.

Edited at 2012-06-19 09:43 pm (UTC)
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jcgbigler From: jcgbigler Date: June 20th, 2012 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
One of my favorite witty remarks that really put a commenter in her place was by my older daughter (also named Margaret) when she was about 21 or 22 months old.

The one piece of information I need to share before the story is that I used to play a game with Margaret, asking if she was my "cutie pie". She would say, "No." Then I'd ask if she was my "UGLY pie?" She would say "Noooooooooooooooo!" And we would both laugh.

On this particular day, we had been running errands, window shopping, and enjoying a nice day on Newbury Street in Boston. Margaret had held up well, but was getting a little tired as we got back to our car. Just then, a little old lady walked up with a big smile and asked her in a saccharine voice, "What's your name, little girl?" Margaret replied, "Daddy calls me 'ugly pie'."

The little old lady gave us a disgusted look and left in a huff. Nancy and I (and Margaret) split our sides laughing.


As for some witty rejoinders:

"Of course #3 was an accident. We're all accidents of nature. Isn't it wonderful?"

"No, I'm quite sure that when my husband and I made love, it was on purpose."

"I hadn't thought of that. Could you please explain what I might be doing wrong?"

"I don't understand. I use my diaphragm so often I keep it nailed to the headboard of the bed."

"Actually, we're bird watchers. We leave out food to attract storks."

"Actually we only want two children, but we know the day will come when we will need to kill one of them."

"Can you believe it? I already had my two children, and then God came to me in a dream and told me I was going to have a third one. He said something about Judgment Day, but I was really drunk and I don't remember the details."
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