Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ms. Dismissive

The children and I have been to the bank, and to reward them (and me!) for the boredom endured, we are now having a treat - blueberry scones for the kids and a raspberry smoothie for me - on a lovely shaded patio at the corner of a couple of busy streets. Lots to see, lots to point out, lots of smiling people passing by. I am asked, "Are they all yours?" at least six times. This is because I have them in two sets of matching hats. Were the people to consider the likely ages of the bearers of the hats, they'd realise the lunacy of the question. Six children under the age of four, max, are not likely to be from the same womb. Though my kids and I have entertained ourselves on more than one occasion imagining how it might be. "George and Darcy could be 4-year-old twins, mom." Emma will venture. "You forgot Harry," her brother corrects. "Yeah, with Harry, that makes triplets. So, three-year-old triplets." "Zach and Mia can be two-and-a-half year old twins." Adam suggests. "Nigel is 18 months, and baby Timmy is 8 month. There! It's possible!" Possible, perhaps, but I can't see myself smiling nearly so much as I do. I'd be going around in a zomboid haze, I'm quite sure. One woman, who had seen us in the bank, happens along. "Aren't you so cute, and so well-behaved!" I preen a little internally. Their cute factor has nothing to do with me, but their behaviour? Ha! That gives me preening rights. "Are they all yours?" she continues. "Not a one!" I grin. "Oh, so you're just the caregiver?" Yeah. Well. What do you say to that? "So you're just a doctor?" "Just a teacher?" "Just an insensitive clod?" Smile and nod, smile and nod, and happily, having completed her mission of...what? what did she think she had just accomplished?...she leaves. Oh, well. Some people are like that. It's a gorgeous day, I'm sitting on a patio with a batch of perfect children, the sun is shining. I can let it go. I take a deep breath, and, in the words of Opus, "PHBHBHBHBT!" I can let it go. I didn't say I had to be ladylike about it.


Blogger kittenpie said...

The word "just" is so belittling, isn't it? I'd hate to think I'm "just" anything, except maybe on time for once.

6/03/2006 09:50:00 a.m.  
Blogger Granny said...

I'd like to think she got 4 steps away and realized what she said.

I'd be incensed with "just" too.

6/03/2006 11:51:00 a.m.  
Blogger mo-wo said...

You sure have a right to preen, and yes as for the 'how we do it post' it's work. In my campaign to make it through the next four weeks of childcare that just ain't as worked over as the sort of work you do the homework we've got is brutal.

Poor, p-man, I think he's going to keel over from all my expectations about us being on shining good care giving behaviour each evening and all weekend to pick up the slack.

Honey are you actively listening? Are you thinking through the consequences of x or y behaviour to model for her? Uhm, dear, is that really consistent to your approach to a,b,c discipline yesterday? Please, honey you have to concentrate. -- that is to say nothing of how hopeless the few brain cells I have to rub together at this gestational phase are performing!!

Good childcare at daycare and at home is done with a lot of hardwork. Not a lot of magic... a little magic, yes, but not a lot?

ps... You know I'll get on my big Canadian pride box and add that I think it is a bit about where we live that people can now look at any adult/child composition and imagine the question 'are they all yours' is legit. We just have such a diversity of families, now.

6/03/2006 02:26:00 p.m.  
Blogger Kristen said...

"Just" the caregiver, my butt!! Where did she think that beautiful behavior came from?!

6/03/2006 05:35:00 p.m.  
Blogger kimmyk said...

How rude of her. You are so much more than JUST a caregiver. Pfft ! @ her!

6/03/2006 07:28:00 p.m.  
Blogger So-Called Supermom said...

There is no such thing as JUST a caregiver. People like you who helping working moms like me balance motherhood and work and who help us guide our children along the way are priceless.

That woman is JUST a jerk!

And before I forget.....that behavior from those kids earns you ANOTHER raspeberry smoothie in my mind!! I have trouble with my 1 child in public somtimes. I cant even imagine going out with 6 little ones. You are my hero!

6/03/2006 10:22:00 p.m.  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

JUST a caregiver?!?!?!?! What a load of crap! That is so rude. You deserve more than smoothies for being so gracious about the comment AND being a wonderful caregiver to a group of well-behaved and adorable kids!

6/04/2006 09:51:00 a.m.  
Blogger chosha said...

Go to the mirror right now and practice this line with the most cutting smirk you can muster. "Lady, I'm not JUST anything!!" Personally in this case I would have wanted to add, "You, on the other hand, JUST made an ass of yourself." But you know, up to you. ^_~

6/04/2006 10:25:00 a.m.  
Anonymous BeckaJo said...

'Just' the caretaker. Hmmph. She probably thinks that fathers are 'just' babysitting when out with their kids as well.

See, there's caregivers, and then there's babysitters. You're one of the former.

6/04/2006 11:26:00 a.m.  
Blogger AverageMom said...

Humph. I bet she has no kids of her own. Anyone with children knows that there is no such thing as "just" when it comes to kids.

6/04/2006 04:21:00 p.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Kittenpie: It is indeed. Without the "just", there was nothing objectionable about the comment at all.

Granny: One would hope. I think everyone has stopped dead in mortification when they realized what exactly they'd just said.

mo-wo: That sums it up well. Perhaps the thing that makes it easier for me is that I've spent so much time over years thinking through those issues and responses that I don't have to think that hard about each and every incident each day. So perhaps to some it looks effortless for me, and perhaps in a sense they're right: though the implementation of my approach is every bit as much effort as it's ever been, I am no longer developing the approach anew every time. I'm constantly refining it, yes, but the groundwork is long done.

Kristen, Kimmyk: Thank you!

ScSM: Six kids in public, behaving themselves, is probably one of the things that is most commonly meant by that "don't know how you do it" phrase. Ironically, my six kids just doesn't seem that much to me, but when I see another woman with six, I think: "Wow! Look at all those kids!" LOL

MisfitHausfrau: Thank you. It was rude, but let's hope granny is right when she speculates that the woman quite likely didn't realise, and was mortified four steps later.

Chosa: That's the sort of thing I fantasize about doing (after the fact) with a great deal of satisfaction, but really, I can't see myself doing it. But it's fun to imagine. And you're right, I'm not JUST anything. Thank you.

Beckajo: Ha! I'll bet you're right. And thank you for recognizing the difference between babysitters and caregivers. Not everyone gets it.

AverageMom: Good observation. Would she say "just" a mother? I'd thought perhaps she meant "just" a caregiver as opposed to the real deal - a mother. I agree: nothing to do with helping children grow and mature - parents, teachers, caregivers, family - is "just" anything. It's too important.

6/04/2006 05:11:00 p.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

My mother had five kids under 6 years old of her own, and usually at least one or two foster babies.

And you know what? I can't trust to look after even one of mine for more than 5 mins now!

6/06/2006 07:34:00 a.m.  

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