My family endures stares all the time. Just a few days ago, I looked up from my plate and locked eyes with a man at a restaurant. I stared back, until he looked away. I do this all the time. I am not going to let someone else try to make my family feel uncomfortable in a public place.
At least once a month, someone asks whether Simone and Nadia are mine? In December, Simone, Nadia and I ducked into a coffee shop. I was looking for an inexpensive but thoughtful gift for a host, and Simone said she wanted some hot chocolate. The young woman helping us with our order was quite chatty, and I was not surprised. Simone and Nadia are charmers. Simone flashes her smile at just about anyone, and the girls always look like they are having a good time with each other. (I am not sure why such behavior does not occur on a regular basis at home, but I guess that is another post.) At any rate, the conversation turned to the girls, and the woman asked question after question. Simone chimed in telling the woman her name and age and then turned to her sister and did the same. Are they yours? the woman wanted to know. Yes, I said, cheerily. I, like most parents, think my children are the cutest ever, and I have no trouble claiming them as my own, especially when folks are making a fuss over them. (This may change, I am told, as they get older.)
Such questions used to anger me. At some point on this journey called Motherhood, I realized I was only hurting myself. I am sure in most cases the men and women — both black and white — who ask these questions do not give another thought to them. I do wonder, though, should I say anything else, somehow put these rude people in their place so that they never again ask such an insensitive question. I have heard one polite way to respond is to say, “What a curious thing to ask.” I am so busy worrying about Simone and Nadia those words never have spilled from my mouth.
What do Honeysmoke readers say? How do you handle similar situations? I also know that several readers reside outside of the United States. I would like to hear from you and how such intrusive questions are viewed in your countries.