Apr 21, 2008

Annoying Comments: Updated

As triplets grow, the triplet-related comments and public scrutiny gradually fades. Our family's celebrity status is waning and fewer people feel free to approach us, ask questions, stop us, or comment. The Great Plains culture can be one of silence and indifference when it comes to socializing with strangers. And incidentally, I find we get the least attention in major cities. Click HERE for my original Annoying Comments post. Don't misinterpret, I'm not trying to be negative; on the contrary, the boys have received bands of gushing stares, loving smiles, and wells of adoration from little kids, moms and grandparents, to old and young men (for some reason I find it interesting that men of all types stop to gush at triplet babies). We've had passersby in cars yell out, I love your babies!, people stop their cars in parking lots to ask about them, circles of strangers gawking in stores. Hey, I don't blame, I'd wonder and sneak peeks and might say something annoying too if I saw my family coming. (I often have this fantasy of coming around a corner with my family and meeting head-on another family strolling their triplets; it could've happened one day when we were at a shopping plaza in Wichita and a group of fans told us that within the very same plaza, at a lunch place just minutes ago, there was a family with 2 year old triplet girls.) Yet it feels good to go out a little more incognito and less zooish.

We've had our share of great comments, indifferent comments, annoying comments and a few bad comments; although often what's meant to be "good" translates into the bad comment at my end (in other words, it's not like we've had any downright nasty comments). Like the "Glad it's you and not me" one; they probably thought it was funny, I thought it kind of sucked. Once my mother-in-law, who was out with Jerry and the triplets, had a lady ask her if their mother (Me) took fertility drugs. Poor woman, she's a private lady (classic Great Plains blood) and didn't know what to do other than hang her mouth open. I told her she should have said yes, I took fertility drugs, but they didn't work. At least this is one comment I usually don't hear; you triplet mamas out there who match your children in color--I can only guess you must hear this intrusive question ALL the time. Another time Jerry was in front of me with two in the double stroller and I was trailing behind with one in the single. I watched him pass a black man walking with a white man and the black man looks at his friend, Did you see that white guy with those black babies?! Pretty amusing for me to eavesdrop and then pass these two men with one more.

I can think of a few reasons why the public hoopla is easing up. First of all, the boys are older (they turn two in late June, yikes!). Strangers feel less comfortable and less compelled to ohhh and ahhh over cognisant little people vs babies. Toddlers are often shy and wide-eyed stares without smiles or other inviting body language causes people to back up. Toddlers are often not as cute as babies. Babies are adorable, toddlers are too, but they lose the chubby cherubness that biologically drives people to smile, tickle, and coo at them (OK, maybe my boys are an exception, they are still baby-gorgeous, har har). Also, it's not as clear that my boys are triplets anymore. Tsega is many inches taller and looks older than Bereket & Sira. It's more confusing now: is Tsega an older brother, are these twins, what the heck? Confused people don't like to comment. Not to mention we have longed ditched the Dr Suess triplet stroller so without a line-up of all three (nowadays one is here, two are there), we escape notice more easily. Finally, when we hit the public, I go about my business like nothing unusual; like we are just an ordinary family who blends unnoticed and doesn't make much eye contact because we are too uninteresting to meet eyes with anybody (yeah, right!).

Let me stop here and say it's OK to gush over my children, I think they are worth the attention. If you happen to meet me, please introduce yourself. But it used to embarrass me a little and I had to gather a little courage to meet the public being so high-profiled. I can't even wear red clothes or a dress in public because I find it too eye-catching and embarrassing (not to mention I can't pull either off too well!). At the same time, I hate being ignored and so boring that I can't get anybody's attention (that's me, never happy in the middle).

Anyway, drum roll please, the top eleven Annoying Comments list of spring 2008 (I use annoying loosely here, most of these are more repetitive and common rather than annoying, which makes them annoying, right!?):
1. You got your hands full! (Still everybody's favorite, number #1 comment, can't go very far without getting one of these. I almost feel sorry for the deliverer of this comment because he or she always laughs afterward for being so funny. Rest assured, I am always pleasant back and laugh along with them as I chuckle out, We sure do!)
2. Hmmmmm, now those two look alike. Are they twins?
3. This one has a lot of hair.
4. He's bigger.
5. This one's the flirt. (Yes, they are all referring to Tsega in #3,4, & 5)
6. God Bless You!!
7. You don't work! There's no way! (Yes I do! I knocked off to 30 hours a week after I went back. It's easier than staying at home, although I hate leaving them.)
8. I can't even imagine. Tsk Tsk Tsk (head shaking).
9. Do you have help? You do have help, don't you? You must be exhausted! (The You meaning Me . . .Uh, Jerry's standing right there, he probably works harder at home than me.)
10. And I thought twins were bad enough. (OK, so this one is not so common, but doesn't it sound nasty? Oh, and the lady who said it recently followed with, I'd only want twins of they were boy/girl so I could tell them apart. Huh? What? And did you see the big one here with all the hair? You can't tell him apart from these two?)
11. Look at those two checking me out with those big eyes, they're thinking I must be crazy. (He he, that'd be Bererket and Sira; and no, I don't think they would think that about you; they just look like they do.)

OK, so not so bad. At least we haven't heard the Glad it's You and Not Me in a long time. And it's a wonder, but we actually seldom get asked if they are adopted or any other adoption-related questions (except for the Where are They From? one).


JYS said...

My favorite is when people ask me if I run a daycare... I smile and say nope they're all mine...at which point they turn and look at Emma and say something stupid like--well not all biological though? I'm still trying to figure out the right response...to this. so far we just walk away.

luckiest mom!

Scott and Emily's Blog said...

We have a foster daughter who is mixed and we often get the stares and questioning glances, like people are trying to figure out how this little african american girl fits in with this all white family...not exactly the same as with your boys, but I often feel like people are trying to figure us out.

Stacy said...

people are so funny... most of the time i just cringe when silly/dumb/otherwise wrong comments slip out of their mouths. I probably do it too, but with the work I do, the first thing I've learned is never ever make assumptions.

Cindy said...

Jessica, I have often wondered if people will start asking us this as the boys get older. It actually warms my heart when strangers refer to me as their "Mommy" (like, "Are you helping your Mommy push the cart?") because it proves that most people really do see us as a family and don't question it at all. But here's a confession: many many many moons ago I asked a white lady who was cradling her black baby if she was, *gulp*, babysitting (Yikes, the glare I got from her, ewwwww, not a bright moment in my life!).

Emily & Stacy, yeah, I think it's natural for people to try and figure people out when something comes at them from out of the ordinary. But too bad many people don't realize that they too should never assume they know what's going on . . . And it's always fun to leave people guessing :).

Life in Fitzville said...

I don't have multiples, but a whole pack close in age. I have heard many of these same comments. My favorite response to the "Glad it's you and not me" is to smile sweetly and reply "Yes... they are so glad it's me and not you too!" Usually quiets them pretty quickly.

And I think you are wrong about them losing any cuteness... they keep getting cuter! Or maybe it's me, I've always loved the toddler years, they are just like little puppies at that age!

lmstephenson said...

I'm glad it is you. You have been truly blessed. We get "Are you babysitting?" every once in a while, but we mostly get, "She is so cute!" I find this annoying because I'm sure they didn't stop and say that to the last cute caucasian toddler they saw. THis comment is usually accompanied by some sort of touching. Candace does not like to be touched by a stranger. When she reacts negetively to the touching, they usually make a reference to her not being friendly. What would they do if I touched their cheek? Also, my son is always beside Candace and he is pretty darn cute himself.

Cindy said...

Fitz: Wow, you do have a pack! :) I always *think* that response too: "Yes... they are so glad it's me and not you too!", but so far I haven't the nerve to say it out loud :). Like little puppies, how funny, because that's what I've been lovingly calling them these days: I say, "Hi Puppy Dog!". Heh, heh.

Imsteph: Humph! I'd be pretty annoyed too if they were ignoring my other son--the white one--with him standing right there very cute and all! :) I'd probably say, and what is he, chop liver?!

Actually, we get all the time people saying how totally cute Tsega is with his two bros right there and I have said that: "What are they, chop liver!?" I don't get it because they are cute as buttons too (I think it's T's hair, everybody likes the groovie look).

Julie said...

I think the "My, you certainly have your hands full!" is the most common comment I get wherever I go, and mine aren't multiples, but I have three kids. People always seem to be surprised when you have more than two kids.

Shannon said...

Hi there,
I am delurking on this one. I have been reading your blog for a long while. Your boys are gorgeous--all three of them. I would be amazing to have triplets some day. I live in Germany and my daughter is of Guatemalan heritage. I get lots of stares. Many times I think people think I am the nanny. When my husband and I are together with our beautiful girl we get even more stares here. I find most people don't mean to be rude...they just aren't quite sure what to think. Unlike in the US, they usu. won't directly ask. Sometimes we just strike up a conversation and tell them we are thrilled and that she is adopted. My doctor said the other day how lucky our baby is and I told her we are definitely the lucky ones to have her as our daughter. I am starting to think now about how I will answer these questions and address comments as she gains awareness of what people are saying. Anyway, great post. I am enjoying watching your boys grow.

Shannon (Emeline's mommy)

Scott and Emily's Blog said...

I have to say that my husband and I were just commenting today about how at church everyone stops to ooh and ahh over our foster daughter, but our white son is right there and no one says a thing most of the time...she is beautiful and has a great smile, but our Samuel is pretty darn cute too :)

Sarah said...

I've learned so much through the adoption journey- and mine aren't even home yet!
If I ever saw you walking through the mall, one boy is screaming, two have runny noses and one is missing a shoe- I'd still walk up and tell you they are gorgeous. Because they are, and this parenting game is hard. Couldn't we all use a little appreciation and encouragement?

LISA said...

I know what is going to happen when we get our kiddos.Even though I've been divorced form #1 for 7 years,people are going to say,
" I knew she was cheating on him!!"

erika's funny farm said...

I think your comments are applicable to any mother of many children. We have 4 kids within 7 years of each other, and most everywhere we would go together when they were younger, people made these comments. I admire your courage to talk about it head on. And just for the record, I am glad it's you, and I'd be thrilled if it were me too.

cassie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cassie said...

my parents had 4 girls aged under 3 (twins and 2 singles) and they were always asked are those three triplets (the older 3) is it 2 sets of twins, how do you manage with so many (there is also 2 boys)

but i know we have the best parents and i am sure you boys will feel the same when there are older