As a mother of four, I've heard and seen a few things. I am not terribly sensitive when it comes to crazy questions from strangers. Some people are. In this age of sharing every detail of our lives via social media, I think this has fueled a hunger to know every little thing about everyone you encounter. I'm offering five simple things you don't want to ask. Inquiring minds may want to know... but chances are the person you are asking doesn't want to answer.
1. Is that YOUR baby?
I am usually the type to just laugh when people put their foot in their mouths. I must say, when someone said something like this to my daughter, mama bear roared her terrible teeth and gnashed her terrible claws. Imagine a crowded self-serve restaurant. I have a double stroller and my 17-year-old daughter with me. My husband is at one end of the place, my daughter at the salad line, and I'm standing in the middle with the stroller. The baby starts to fuss, so I frantically grab milk from the beverage area and started pouring it into his cup. My sweet daughter turned toward the baby and gave him a smile, a sush, and told him everything was going to be OK. A woman next to her in line then blurted out for the entire room to hear, "Is that YOUR baby?! She responded that is was her brother, and shrunk back to me dripping tears on her taco salad. I confronted the woman kindly, and let her know she was not careful with her words and it really hurt my daughter's feelings. Her response was silly, saying, "Well, you never know these days." My response was, "Indeed, you never know. What you don't know is that she is an honor student, does not drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex, is responsible, has a part-time job and is planning to go to college next year. Equating her to the latest MTV teen moms did nothing for her self-esteem, thank you."
2. You put a leash on your KID?
We use a harness with my fourth child, Liam, who is 18 months old. He is a wild one. I was recently met with this question, and I simply said, "Yes, I do." I was able to refrain from what I really wanted to say, because I'm pretty secure in my parenting decisions. Even so, what I wished I had said in the moment was:
Yes, I do. I DO put a leash on my kid. He runs off crazy and doesn't completely comprehend the English language at the ripe old age of 1. He is unsure of what is safe and what is not, and like my dog, I don't want to lose him or have him get run over by a car. I'm 44 years old and this child can out run me. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Judgement, my son has something called Nursemaid's Elbow. If we are holding his hand and he wants to run the opposite direction or flop onto the floor as toddlers do, we accidentally dislocate his elbow. This horrible leash keeps this from happening. Yes... he actually needs this device to save him from pain and save us trips to the emergency room. Aren't you glad you asked?
3. When are you due?
Really folks, one would think that this one is obvious. This is NOT a question to ask someone. Unless a woman is wearing a shirt with an arrow pointing to her belly that says BABY ON BOARD... don't ask. This happened to my friend just last week. She is beautiful, and if she puts on a few pounds it always goes straight to her belly. Coupled with her decadent rack and a certain kind of blouse, maybe it looks possible? Still, why would you ask? This is undoubtedly humiliating for both parties involved. Never, ever, ask this question. While you are at it, even if you are dead sure someone is about to drop a human, never remark, "Are you having twins?" This is not appreciated. I can attest to this, four pregnancies over.
4. Why aren't you drinking?
This one can be sensitive on so many levels. People opt out of alcohol for so many reasons. Some people are simply smart enough to not drink and drive. Others are pregnant and not ready to tell you about it. Still there are those that are on a special diet, taking medication or hung over from the night before and still can't manage the hair of the dog. Seriously, why do we care? This can be such a loaded question. If whomever you are with chooses a non-alcoholic drink, I recommend not reacting at all. If they want you to know why, they will tell you.
5. Is that your first grandchild?
Did you adopt that baby? Are you the nanny? Any question along these lines is simply off-limits. Yes, I have received them all. Truth is, many of my peers are grandparents. If I go too long between salon appointments, I have more gray hair than I care to admit. I'm part Latina and have olive skin, brown eyes and dark brown hair, and I happened to have given birth to two blonde haired, blue-eyed boys. I'm older than the average mom of a baby, but only by a few years. Your curiosity is astounding to me and honestly, why do you want to know? My kids are happy and healthy and I'm grateful for that. The next time you see a mommy that looks a little too young or too old to be a mommy, think twice before opening your mouth.
It is amazing how much people do want to talk, share and be heard. Maybe next time you are tempted to ask one of these questions, don't. Listen, and wait for them to share with you. You will probably find out anyway, and won't get socked in the eye in the process.