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.”
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.”