My sons did not enter this world via my vajayjay. When you see the boys, you may assume I’m married to some hot Asian guy or that I’m babysitting. Nope. The two sticky-fingered boys with black hair and almond eyes trailing behind me at the store whining for Fruity Pebbles are mine. They belong to pasty white me and my pasty white husband from Detroit. They are adopted from China and we get a ton of questions when we’re out and about. These questions are usually not well-received by me, although sometimes I pretend to be nice about it.
I might see these questions as benign, funny, mildly annoying or straight-up rude. My reaction will be determined by a complicated equation factoring in time of the month, current caffeine level and the number of dumbass drivers I encountered on the road that day. The right (or wrong) mix of those three things can make me cuh-ray-zee and at those times, it is best not to ask me anything unless it sounds like “would you like wine with that?”
People ask me nosy questions about my kids in stores, at the playground, at birthday parties and in waiting rooms. Anytime I’m not moving and make accidental eye-contact, I emit invisible signals that scream “ask me something that’s none of your damn business! Go for it!”
Here’s a sampler platter:
“What’s he mixed with?”
This question interrupted my deep thoughts about whether I could get another week out of my boxed hair color root job or if I needed to schedule some time with Nice n’ Easy STAT. Seeing my look of confusion, the asker whispered:
“You know…his race.”
“He’s Chinese,” I whispered back.
I have no flippin’ clue why we were whispering; I just went with it so I could get back to worrying about important stuff, like whether or not my hair looked bad.
“He’s so smart! It’s in his genes, right?”
This was asked while my four year was contentedly licking the screen of my smart phone. I had to offer him something for entertainment so he’d behave while we were in line at the pharmacy (since I’m a slacker mom and forgot to bring toys). Oh yeah, lady. He’s writing an app with his tongue. MIT is already calling us about a full ride scholarship.
“Do they speak Asian?”
No, they speak Klingon. Seriously, Asian isn’t a language; get a clue. Who does not know this stuff?
“Can he understand English?”
Maybe this is a legit question to ask someone with a Chinese kid. Unless you just witnessed the following exchange, in which case it’s kind of a dumb thing to ask me:
Kid: Mommy, I want grape soda”.
Kid: Awww, why?
Me: Because I said so.
Kid: No fair. You’re not my best friend, Mommy.
Nope. Kid doesn’t understand a thing I’m saying.
I get that people are curious. But curiosity gets old. In all seriousness, I try to err on the side of nice when responding to people’s questions. Mostly. When I’m well-fortified with coffee, chocolate, or booze (or all of that). I have no trouble letting someone know they’ve gotten too personal; I just don’t always snarl when I do it. I’ll give a gentler answer when I can.
The straight up MYOFB is reserved for:
“How much did they cost/where is their real mother/why didn’t their real parents want them/aren’t you afraid they’re going to turn out crazy/can you give them back/is it different than adopting a dog because I adopted a dog and that was really hard/are you still trying to get pregnant/they’re so lucky/where are they from no really where are they from?”
I’m not obligated to “gently educate” ignorant A-holes. I’m not an exclusive source of info about adoption or what it’s like to be a multi-racial family. There are plenty of places the curious can go for answers, like the Interwebs.
Aside from the fact that I don’t like interrupting my regularly scheduled programming to hold a Q & A in the health and beauty aisle, I usually choose not to answer these questions because they are not my questions. I have no idea how my kids will view the story of their beginnings or their place in our family once they’re older and have a better grasp of things. Right now it’s all about popsicles being the bestest thing ever and naps being the root of all evil. As they grow up, they may not want me sharing their story with strangers. They may not give a flying fart. Until they are old enough to decide, I choose not to share because once you put information out there, you can’t take it back.
Dry foods aisle. Lady stops to admire my boys as I hoist a 10 pound bag of rice into my cart. (This was during the fifteen minute window of the day where shirts were clean and nobody had a booger hanging, me included). She says, “I imagine they eat a lot of rice.”
Would you walk up to a Mexican family and say, “I imagine you eat a lot of tacos.” Would you???
Actually, my kids aren’t huge rice eaters. I like rice. People in shopping cart land everywhere: a good rule of thumb is to resist the urge to comment on stuff in people’s carts. Unless you routinely say stuff like, “Ooh pads, that time of the month?” or “Lactaid? My grandma is lactose intolerant, too. Milk gives her the squirts,” then keeping nosy questions to ourselves is probably the best path, hmm?
Just because “hey, I wonder” pops into our heads doesn’t mean “can I ask you” should fly out of your pie hole. You might meet me on a day when my coffee light is low and some jackass has just cut me off in traffic. Things could end badly for everyone. Cheers, people.