Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Six Things it's Okay to Say to Parents of Lots of Kids

You know all those blog posts kicking around called "Ten Things Never to Say to (enter your favorite minority)".  At first, I thought they were informative, if not a little over sensitive.  But in the last year, I think the movement has gotten out of control.  Let's face it, we live in a society now where basically we can't say anything to anyone without fear of being accused of being an insensitive d-bag.  It's plain silliness, in my book.  How can we possibly educate people about our circumstances if they are afraid to ask or talk about things.  (Disclaimer:  There are some that are totally hilarious, I'm not talking about those.  I am talking about the ones making fun of people who just want to understand)

Now, I have to add, that we also live in a time where most of people's social behavior is online these days.  How many of us wouldn't DARE say the things in person we say on Facebook?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  I think a part of us tends to forget that behind that profile pic there is a real, living, and breathing person with feelings.  I think the art of face to face socialization is quickly becoming a lost art.  Being tactful and classy in the things we say becomes a challenge, because face it, we often don't have to worry about that with our online persona.

I try to keep it real.  I often wouldn't say things online that I wouldn't say face to face.  But even I sometimes lose my cool with people in an online setting, when in person, I would have just walked away.

And I am the first to admit that I am a better writer than I am speaker... I often find myself with both feet wedged in my big mouth.

That being said.  In my Pushing Positive goals, I would like to write some posts about what we can and should say to people in certain circumstances.  There is so much about what NOT to say, that we don't know what TO say. Let's play with the positive side.

So I am going to start with the whole lots of kids thing.  That's the first thing people notice about us as we are venturing out in the world doing our thing.

[Note: When I say "Lot's of Kids" I mean more than 2 (If you live in Utah, more than 3 or 4).]

Last week, I took all four boys to Target to get a few things.  I was wearing the baby like this:
The other 3 were hanging off the cart preforming various circus acts... quite impressively, I might add.  In fact, we looked so freaking awesome, other target customers were taking pictures of us.  I chose not to be offended, and instead to feel like a super mom rock star -- I mean, wouldn't you??

A mom and her teenage daughter approached us and asked if they were all boys. Since all my boys have buzz cuts, I assume they weren't sure about the baby -- which is totally fine, because lots of people put their baby girls in blue right??  Anyway, I told them yes, they were all boys.  They ooed and awed and told me how handsome and well-behaved they were.  I chuckled, it totally wasn't true, (the well-behaved part, that is... ) but a mom loved to hear it anyway.  Then they told me they didn't know how I could do it, because they couldn't.  Now, lots of mom's get put out by comment by this, but to me it's a huge compliment... and that's how they mean it.  Yeah, I can handle it, go me!  And strangers admire that.  Go me again!

Living in the south, we are a sideshow everywhere we go.  I've heard it all.  The nice stuff and the nasty stuff.  Yes, we know what "birth control is" -- are you kidding me?  Can you at least TRY to use an original line?

So if you see a big family and you really feel the need to talk to them.  Here are a few things you can say that are totally cool, at least in my book.

1.  "What beautiful kids you have!"  EVERY. MOM. LOVES. TO. HEAR. THIS!  Who doesn't like to bask in the glory of their beautiful offspring?  Grumpy people put your hands down!  Usually, I follow up with a great joke like, "You didn't see them on aisle 5... they weren't so cute then!" but mostly, I go for the classic, "Thanks!"  Either way, I appreciate it.

2.  "Wow! All boys/girls?"  DO NOT follow with "Are you going to try for (the opposite sex) next?"  This is kind of a sore spot that is VERY personal for those with all of the same gender.  Instead, you can add, "You are so blessed!"  We love to hear we are blessed.  Because, we are.

3.  When you see us appropriately disciplining our kids in public, don't hide your faces and rush off like you are ashamed to witness it.  We appreciate it when people notice our efforts to raise decent human beings.  Meet our eyes and give us a smile of way-to-go-mom, or a nod of approval, and if you are in an extra cheesy mood, we even accept thumps up.  (I get those from old people all the time).  Today, at Walmart, I had the baby sitting in the cart, and as I turned to get some yogurt the boys all decided to jump on one side at the same time nearly throwing the baby out.  I caught it just in time, but was livid!  We have the don't hang on the cart like that talk EVERY SINGLE TRIP to the store.  I had them lined up right there next to the dairy and I was giving them the talking to about being good examples and following rules keeps us safe and how they almost killed their little brother.  A woman walked by me and said under her breath, "You tell 'em, Mama!"  I loved that!  It isn't easy to take a public stand, because it's easier to just let them get away with it and be quiet.  So it's nice when people show they appreciate it when I call my kids out then and there.

4.  "What well-behaved kids you have." or "What great little helpers you have!"  Both are nice to hear.  Mom's like to know their hard work is noticed.  It isn't easy to teach kids how to behave in public or to help without complaining.  A couple weeks ago, it was my 8 year old's birthday.  My husband was out in the field with the Army all week, so it was just me and the boys.  He chose to go to lunch at Cheddar's.  So off we went, me feeling all brave going into a restaurant with all the boys and no daddy for backup.  They are very good, if I say so myself.  Of course, they aren't little adults, and they act like kids, but they ate their food and didn't throw it.  Only my 4 year old was exploring under the table.  And the baby was asleep through most of it.  There was this little WWII vet sitting kiddie-corner from us and he kept smiling at me and giving me the thumbs up.  I had to smile.  After he was done eating he came up to me and told me what a great job I was doing.  He said that I hope I know how blessed I was to have 4 healthy boys.  I told him that I knew.  He was so sweet.  

5.  It's okay to ask polite questions.  I get asked if my older two are twins, because they are near the same size.  Totally cool.  I get asked about my 8 year old's red hair, because hey, it's totally awesome!  I get asked their ages, all is well.  I don't mind at all.  For the most part, people are just being friendly.  And you can TELL when they are being rude.  Once I had a lady say to me, "I hope you aren't planning on having MORE."  That was rude and it was said rude.  Some people ask me in a nice tone, "Are you planning on having more?"  This bothers a lot of people, because, yes, it really isn't their business.  Personally, this doesn't bother me.  I just smile and say, "maybe."  But most people aren't me -- so I wouldn't say it....  I had a lady at Walmart ask me today, and after I said my usual "maybe," she just laughed and told me I was amazing and it took a special kind of woman to have several kids.  I took it as a compliment.

6.  "I can tell you're a really good mom!"  It's more than okay to compliment us and our kids.  You may have noticed that there is a trending theme in my lists and that is compliments.  We love them.  It makes our day brighter.  Like everyone, we have good days and bad days and it's those bad days where a Diet Pepsi and massive amounts of chocolate isn't going to cut it, but a nice word from a stranger will.  Let me give you a HUGE hint about how to tell a mom is having a bad day.  Look for yoga pants and no makeup.  Instead of jumping to the conclusion that she has "let herself go", think instead that that mom probably didn't sleep much because her baby is teething and the bigger kids are out of school and are waking up by 6 wanting breakfast.  Her house is mess because her husband just came home from a month long training and after a layer of toys, Army gear has exploded everywhere!  She is tired. Probably grumpy.  And wouldn't even be at the store if they hadn't have run out of milk and diapers.  She is in need of a smile or a kind word.  Don't be afraid to be that person.

I am well aware there are crappy parents out there punching out kids to get government aid and whatnot.  There are parents that are neglectful, abusive, and trashy.  But there are also parents who sacrifice everything to raise great kids.  And let's face it, this world NEEDS decent human beings.  For every bad parent out there, there are a 100 great ones!  It isn't easy to have many kids, but it was a choice we made.  Sure we can't afford to have worldly goods, the best electronics, the fanciest cars, etc... but we don't NEED that.  Our needs have nothing to do with material goods, and everything do with happy, healthy, little people. We find much joy in parenthood... even if we are a little crazy... but that's how we roll!

What are some things you like people to say to you about your kids?


Tara said...

It rarely bothers me when people want to talk to me/make comments about my kids. I've read so many articles online about not telling moms to enjoy each moment, or how fast it will go or whatever, and I just kind of think they are silly. Unless people are obviously being rude, like you said, I just smile and answer them. We currently have two girls and a boy and I do get a bit annoyed when people show such obvious relief for us when they verify that the baby is a boy. Only because my girls are usually standing right there listening to those comments.

Laura Lynn said...

I loved this. I'm used to comments. Mostly they're good, only a few times have they been backhanded. I love it when people say I've got my hands full, I always say, "Not really! I actually wanted more
We have a blast." because that's the way I really feel!

Laura Lynn said...

I loved this. I'm used to comments. Mostly they're good, only a few times have they been backhanded. I love it when people say I've got my hands full, I always say, "Not really! I actually wanted more
We have a blast." because that's the way I really feel!