Monday, April 19, 2010

What Are You Looking At?

Evidently, my family is fascinating.

Not only do people feel compelled to ask questions like "Are they all yours?" and "Are you trying for a girl?" but they don't feel at all ashamed to stare...they don't even try to hide it. I have cute kids but COME ON!

Friday evening we took a road trip to OH to visit my father-in-law. We stopped at a fast food restaurant for dinner. (No lectures about the lack of nutritional value, please.) The Husband and I have a system..he finds out what I want to eat then I take the 2 yo and find a place to sit. After the other boys order, they join me and the 15 yo gathers the napkins, straws and ketchup. YES! I confess, we've done this a few times before!

For some reason, at this busy place on the side of the highway, we were like a freak show. (No this is not was like we'd wandered into a tiny town and were clearly "from away".) One woman walked around the perimeter of the restaurant, coffee in hand, staring at us the whole time. Finally the 15 yo said, not too quietly, "Why is she staring?"

Thankfully, right about that time, *E* was generous and gave people something to see. Somehow he managed to knock his whole soda (don't say it, I know all about HFCS) backward onto the seat behind him and it quickly ran like a river in both directions, toward the Husband and myself. Fortunately, our reflexes are still good (we are old, after all) and our behinds stayed did *E*'s. There is no use crying, or yelling, over spilled soda. The Husband went and got the napkins while the children stood in the way gawking at the soda river. *N* tried to soak up the deluge with the corner of one napkin while *C* effectively blocked the Husband from recovery efforts. After asking them to sit down several times, he discovered they were mesmerized and he had to take them (gently, of course) by the shoulders and lead them to their seats so he could actually reach the spill. I told you, we're like the Griswolds. He said it was like watching the Keystone cops. (I told him he was showing his age. ;) ) And through it all, "Coffee Lady" circled and gawked.

Hopefully, we handled the "crisis" acceptably. Hopefully, we set a positive example for both our children and those around us. (Because there were times this weekend when we looked like we could have been on one of those reality shows about a family in crisis...but those are blips on the radar screen..loud blips but so uncommon as to be totally shocking to us and the perpetrators. Amazing what stress, sleep deprivation and hunger can do to rational people. We're going to work on that.)

Sometimes life goes smoothly. Sometimes we fly under the radar. Sometimes we get compliments about how well-behaved our kids are. (Yes, it really does happen.) Sometimes people stare. Sometimes I want to crawl into a hole out of embarrassment. Always, ALWAYS I am a child of God entrusted with the care of His children. This blessing will not always be easy and I will often fall short but regardless, my life is a gift and each child is a sign of hope and an opportunity to be an example of God's them and to others. Hopefully, each of them will go on to do the same.



  1. If anyone knew you at all, they would know you do most of your cooking at home and try your best to serve your family healthy meal options. And if anyone knew ANYONE who traveled, most of the time, fast food is the choice of most - it's fast, it allows you to get some food and get back on the road again without losing an hour or more on "slow food" (which isn't always any better fat-wise/calorie-wise/nutritionally than fast food). So, I would bet that no one would judge you whatsoever for stopping at fast food. And if someone does, then obviously they've never traveled with any children (one child or more than one child) for any distance. The quicker your stops are, the faster you get to your destination, and the sooner you're done being cooped up in a vehicle with a child/children who are asking every 5 minutes, "are we there yet?"

    I tell you, traveling with children is not an easy feat. And perhaps "Coffee Lady" doesn't have children of her own...or perhaps if she does, she somehow was blessed with perfect children who never EVER spilled anything, especially not in a public place.

    Oh well. Life goes on. Your family had food in their bellies, you got to your destination, and you're spending time with your family. That's all that matters.

  2. Oh Stacey, I do feel your pain!! "Staring" is one of the things that I have the most difficulty with when we go out. Recently our family stopped at a buffet and it felt like WE were the buffet. Thankfully there were a couple of nice folks that stopped to actually compliment us. No judgements here from us on fast food and HFCS! Those are treats for our kids, but we do them occasionally (and traveling is a good time) and our kids love it. :)

  3. I hardly think the other people eating at the fast food joint on the highway are in the position to criticize. They are eating there and stretching their legs too.

    I bet that Coffee Lady would have stared if you had one kid, no kids, a dog in your purse, etc. She sounds like she's just a nosy Gladys Kravitz type. (How's that for showing my age?) Just walking around and judging everyone.

    You need a good one liner for the people with the rude questions. Something like "we're hoping TLC will call soon. What do you think we should call our show?" That will shut them up quick. LOL

  4. I agree being stared at is one of the annoyances of going out with a big family. As for the coffee lady, I'd have probably stared right back until she stopped staring. Rude behavior cannot be excused by saying that we're such an unusual sight. I try my best to ignore it and not let it distract me from the fun of being out with my kids.

  5. Being the wise acre that I am I would have shouted, HI! How are you?? to the coffee lady...........with a big ole huge Goodwife smile! Or if she caught me on a bad day I would have glared at her until she remembered her manners.......

  6. This cracks me up!! Before I had Kyan, I was dating a man with 3 boys. So his 3 + my 1 = 4 boys, 7 and under. We definitely experienced that staring thing on a road trip we took once to visit his family in PA. At a rest stop (yup, fast food), an older man actually had the nerve to come up to us and ask if we knew what causes "this" (gesturing at the boys)! One thing about my ex-bf - he had a sense of humor. His response was, "Well sure we do, but it's just too much fun to stop!" Shut the guy right up for sure!

    So yeah, I so try not to stare at larger families for SURE now! But if, for whatever reason I do, when I catch myself I smile and say something like, "You've got beautiful children," so it's not *totally* rude.