Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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observations: peoples' reaction to my large family

My Mom has six children.  I'm the eldest of that bunch.  I honestly don't remember many comments about the size of our family.  I do remember some of my Mom's stories concerning the number of children she had.

She explained that when she had three or four, people sort of treated her like she was a little crazy.  Somewhere between three and five, though, the reactions seemed to become somewhat reverent... like somehow she'd suddenly become a saint.

I thought those stories were really interesting.  Although I've always wanted at least four children for as long as I can remember, I never really considered how others might react to the number of children I'd have.  Perhaps as a result of not considering it, or at least in part, I've been taken off-guard at times.

The children and I work hard to find the humor in others' reactions.  Our favorite, which happened in the first half of 2016, relatively soon after GrA was born, was at Lowes.  We'd gone to the restroom before shopping, which is pretty much a standard practice in most any store we frequent.  We were heading out into the store in our usual way, reverse birth order.  This puts the youngest closest to me with my eldest at the end.  Also, because of their heights, I can quickly see whether everyone is where they are supposed to be.

Well, there was a guy trying to get to the men's restroom right when we were coming around the corner and heading out into the store.  He stood and waited patiently.  I watched as my last two (two eldest daughters) came around the corner.  The fella did a bit of a double take and then looked around the corner.  I'm pretty certain he was looking to make sure the coast was clear and there weren't any more children coming around the corner.  The children and I laughed together over that.

The most regular reaction is the, "You've got your hands full," statement.  Sometimes this is said with genuine appreciation.  Others, it's full of shock.  Still other times, these same words are full of condemnation.  I often wonder if those folks mean to use those tones or if it's simply a sort of expression of the culture coming through them.  You know, the unfriendly-to-children-culture in whih we live.

Because we get this particular comment so very often, we've practiced a response.  We don't always get it in perfect harmony, but I think we're getting better.  When someone says this now, I turn to the children and they singsongy-sweet say, "Better full than empty!"
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