Thursday, August 28, 2008

Those Pesky Little Questions

Those pesky little questions I get everywhere I go. Something about having a lot of kids brings out the curiosity in people. You know, like side shows at the circus or rubberneckers at an accident. I get stares and jaws dropped. I can see people silently counting as we walk past. Sometimes I even get dirty looks and rolled eyes (although not often).

I have to admit, I actually enjoy getting asked these questions. I like to think of them as compliments. Most people are just making conversation, and the rare person trying to insult me doesn’t quite know how to react to someone unashamed of their large family (Did they expect me to be timid or just stupid?). I have found that the best way to answer people is with humor. Here are a few “regular” questions I get asked with my favorite replies:

Are those all yours?
Although there are days were I wish I could claim otherwise, I usually find the best answer is honesty (spoken with pride and a smile): “Every single one!” If I am in a good mood I will sometimes admit that I have more in school at the moment. Although if my husband is there, I always let him say his favorite, “I'm not sure, but that’s what she claims.”

My, you certainly have your hands full!
This statement makes me (for etiquette’s sake) stifle a hysterical laugh. My hands? Understatement of the year. Do you know how many times I realize I'm once again using my mouth as a third hand: carrying car keys, pacifiers, mail, dirty diapers (JOKING!!), etc? I can clean an entire house without bending thanks to years of practice at picking things up with my toes (4.5 years of being pregnant did have some side benefits). My favorite replies, “All the time,” or “you better believe it.”

How do you keep from going crazy?
Hello? I kept having children, close together, even after I knew what the terrible twos were like, “What makes you think I did?”

You don’t look old enough to have 6 kids.
Well when you start when you’re 20 . . . I have three different replies to this one, “I feel old enough,” or “I’m not (must be said with a sigh for total effect),” or “Thank you.” Since I don’t get told this as often as I once did, “thank you,” is becoming the more prevalent answer.

So how many children do you want?
I also get "So are you finished?" a lot. I don't mind these questions from people I know, but I am usually a little shocked when a complete stranger asks. After my 4th was born, I found the best reply, “Two.” It takes a couple of seconds, but they usually get it.

Do you home school?
I started getting this question when pregnant with #5. I guess there is an unwritten law that women who have more than four children are required to home school. Thankfully I am somehow exempt from that law (they let me register them at public school and everything!). I just look at them and ask incredulously, “No, why?” or, sometimes "And have 6 kids at home all the time?!?"

Are you Catholic?
A favorite question while in Pennsylvania, I began getting this question after 4 children. From complete strangers in the store. Once even from a checker at Aldis. My reply, “Close, I’m Mormon.” I have always wondered what kind of answer people who ask this question expected; they were usually embarrassed by any answer acknowledging I did in fact belong to a religion known for having unusually large families.

My favorite was a recruiter (actually trying to get us to work for their company) asking us, after learning our family size, if we were Mormon or something. We looked at her and replied, “As a matter of fact, we are.” She promptly blushed and walked away. And we still took a job with the company.

You know how that happens, right?
Yes, I have been asked this question. More than once. I used to reply, “No. If I knew I would stop it right away and never do it again. Peter says he has absolutely NO IDEA.” I thought this was very funny, but unfortunately some people believed me and tried to explain. I figured it wasn’t so hilarious if people really believed I was that naive (and my husband that mean?). I really haven’t been asked that one in a while so I don’t have any witty replies. You can try the 1st one, but it really is awful to have to explain that you were kidding.

What is this Jon and Kate plus 8?
I loved this question. At least the person was being creative and she said it with a huge smile. I replied, “No, but I relate to that show on WAY to many levels.”

So do you have a favorite (or pet peeve) question or reply?


  1. I usually get the 'can mormons do that?' question.

    some examples: can mormons...

    watch movies?
    drink soda?
    leave their house on sunday?

  2. I use to say to the one of are those all your? I would say no I like to go around the neighborhood and gather kids dress them alike and take them shopping with me. To me that is such a dumb question. Who would want to take all those young kids shopping.
    I had a doctor ask me if I was trying to populate the world by myself. To make it worse he was my obgyn. I replied that he could leave the room and I would never see him again for this baby.
    I always like the response of wow you have a great looking bunch of kids there, or your kids are so good, or what a great family.

  3. Even I get the "Wow, you have your hands full!" comment practically everywhere I go. I can only imagine how bad it is for you!

    I absolutely hate questions about my hair. And it's only gotten worse now that I have a daughter cursed with the curls, too. Nowadays, this conversation happens A LOT:
    "Oh my goodness, look at that hair! Does she get it from your husband?" (usually my hair is straight)
    "No, she gets it from me, actually."
    "You're kidding?!"
    "No, I just straighten it." The conversation will then head one of two directions; either they will tell me I'm crazy and they would kill for curly hair, or they ask about how long it takes, how I do it, etc. Bleh. Equally detestable is "Is your hair naturally curly?" question. I hate it. It comes from years and years of being asked, and I know it's not an outrageous question, it just bugs me.

    Now that I've offended everyone in the family, let me tell you that I don't mind so much from people I know, it's pretty much just strangers that irritate me.

  4. When I had 3 boys and was pregnant with number 4 people would ask me all the time if I was trying for a girl. I would say, "No, we're just trying for a red-head."

  5. I am totally laughing out loud!

    I have 4 girls and a boy on the very tail end, the comment we get the most is "Daddy finally got a boy" It doesn't bother me so much but it makes my hubby really irritated, he tells them "yes, our 5th child happened to be a boy." We also get "So are you going to try for another boy?" if we had control over THAT! And last, but not least "are you finally done now that you had a boy?" I always say something like..."Done? Why would we be done?"


  6. I like getting the questions about curly hair (that was one of the hardest things about cutting Matthew's hair). Now when people comment on the light color I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "you should have seen it before I cut off the curls."

    I had forgotten all the comments after my first two, "Oh how lucky. A girl and boy right off the bat. Now you can be done."

  7. This is hilarious! I must admit though- I am intrigued by all the kids because I'd LOVE to have that many and just can't imagine what it's like... especially because at this point I only have one... So if I ever but you with questions- just realize I just want to hear it for the advice reason- not the side-show circus reason... although, now that you mention that- maybe that's more interesting! HA HA HA

  8. I love reading your blog!! It makes me think of how my mom must have felt with 8 kids. This was way fun to read!

  9. I have gotten all of those questions (except the catholic one and the home school one) And I only have 4 kids. Very true. My biggest pet peeve questions are dealing with media like...
    "you dont have cable TV? Do you know what century it is?" Or have you seen such and such movie? and when I say no I am treated like a bacwards freak (like the new batman movie, no one can believe that I don't want to see it) Oh well

    BTW...I never ask people anything, strangers that is. Maybe I should be more open.

  10. I get "Wow, you must have your hands full!" Which isn't really true. I have a 10 yr. old girl who would love to just take over my baby and leave me to be with my 2 boys- ages 5 and 7. But, when she gets tired of helping with the baby (and a lot of times when she still wants to play with the baby), the boys want to play with the baby as well.

    What I am trying to say, is that child #4 has by FAR been the easiest of all- I have 3 built in helpers.

    My favorite, though, when I got pregnant with baby#4 and my youngest was almost 5, was when people (who obviously didn't know my need to have everything in my life planned, including my children) would say things like, "Opps!"- meaning that it was a surprise that I got pregnant. I would just reply that we took a little break to enjoy the kids and we are doing such a great job at being such awesome parents that we were ready to have some more. LOL.

  11. I always get "You have your hands full" and I am STILL Trying to come up with a witty response. Sometimes when I have the baby in my arms I will say "Just one hand" while waving the free one.

  12. When we get comments about looking too young to have five children, Kent usually answers, "That's what happens when you start having kids at 16." But he's pretty merciful in that he only says that to people who know his sense of humor. (He's the ward heckler.)

    Living in Utah, I'm surprised that I still get asked most of these on a regular basis, except the Catholic and home school questions. Most of the time when I proudly reply that they are all mine and that we have a lot of fun having a big family, people open up and tell me about their childhood memories with lots of siblings, or older people will agree that raising a handful of children was such a blessing. I was surprised to get these complimentary comments from a few people when we were in Disneyland too. I like to emphasize how well the children treat each other and how close their relationships are.

  13. I think it's really funny that everyone who commented has had most of these questions asked, whether they have 2 kids, 4 kids, 6 kids... It makes me wonder who these people are who are asking!

    We get the "Are you done now that you have one of each?" question all the time, and their surprise when I say "no" is never well hidden.

  14. First off I want to say that it is awesome that you have so many kids. I really wish I could have so many kids, but my nervous tell me no way.

    The only question I get asked all the time is the when are you going to have a girl. I tell them hopefully never. I want only boys. Girls are to emotional.
    Most people agree with me.

  15. Too funny. I have gotten a lot of.." really want to stay home to raise him" lately.

  16. I just got the link to your blog from my mom...too funny. I get the curly hair thing with my baby all the time: Is her hair naturally curly? I almost can't help but, it's not natural, I make my 15 month old sit there every morning and go at her with a curly iron. Are you kiddin' me?

  17. I get that with the highlights in my 4yo son's hair. I tell people straight faced that I add highlights to it. Shalise, you should say "yeah, it takes an hour every morning, but it's totally worth it b/c she looks so cute in curls."

  18. Love this! I especially like your answer to, "How many children are you going to have?" I'm going to start using that.