Nosy Children

21 Apr

I was walking by the school yard one day, on my way to the grocery store. Both boys were fastened securely into the double stroller and, as so often happens when I pass the school yard at recess, a swarm of little children clamored to the fence to see the babies. This has been happening ever since RJ was born and I started going for walks. The bigger kids don’t care but all the little kids (maybe around age 4-6) are fascinated by the little babies and want to ask me all kinds of questions.

Is that a boy or a girl?

Do you have other children?

Do you like babies?

How old are they?

Stuff like that. Though yesterday I heard a new question, one I hadn’t been asked before (at least not by random children):

Are you going to have any more babies?

I just laughed and said, “I already have two, why would I want another one?” and kept walking, as one child yelled after me, “WELL MY MOMMY HAS THREE BABIES!”

When I heard this question, I flashed back in time to a six year old me, asking the same question.

I remember sitting next to a woman after a church service, talking to her and feeling so proud that SHE was actually talking to ME.

You see, I thought she was amazing. She was small, blond, gorgeous, kind, sweet, and soft-spoken. I felt privileged to be talking to her and honoured that she would give me some of her time. You know how kids are prone to hero worship.

Anyway, I distinctly remember asking her if she was going to have children. This lady did go on to eventually have (at least) two children but I can’t remember if she already had the first child at this point or if she was pregnant or if she was just newly married.  Anyway, I think she said something like, “I’m not sure,” and the conversation went on. Eventually I left with my mom and continued on my merry way, living life the way a happy six year old would.

Some time later, my mom sat me down for a “talk.” Apparently this woman had talked to my mom about my inappropriateness and how I had offended her with my personal questions. I was HORRIFIED!! I burst into tears and screamed that the lady was lying or at the very least she must have confused me with a different child.

My mom, probably astounded at my hugely over-the-top reaction, calmed me down and apologized and said she must have misheard or blond lady was probably mistaken.

I lied to my mom – out of shame and fear that I was about to get into trouble. My mom never brought it up again and I’m sure she forgot about it fairly quickly. I, on the other hand, have never really forgotten it.

I’m not sure why, but this experience has always stuck with me. I think because it was the first time I realized you can’t just go asking anything to anyone. What a concept: some people do, indeed, get offended by certain questions or topics of conversation.

And people really don’t like to have their personal life questioned by random strangers or random (adorable) children at church. I can understand that, for the most part. I don’t want people on the street asking me about my family planning methods.  I don’t want random kids asking me either.

But a 4 year old? Or 5? Or 6? Do they even know any better? Aren’t they just learning to have real conversations? Aren’t they curious little creatures?

I make exceptions for small children. Sure, they need to learn about social etiquette but they don’t need to be shamed or scared into it.

And maybe that’s what blond gorgeous lady was trying to do. She quietly and calmly talked to my mom about my offensive questions as to not shame me in person. This, perhaps, was supposed to be a gentle way of teaching me about the ‘right’ way to act. Who knows. In my six-year-old mind, I saw her as a big tattle tale. I also know that I never really talked to her one-on-one for the remainder of the time that our families attended the same church. She was probably happy about that!

When those school yard children were asking me about having more babies the other day, I found myself getting a bit angry at blond lady. I’m not paralyzed by rage or insecurity because of this decades-old incident, but I find myself wondering why she couldn’t just make an exception, as many people do. I was a small curious child and I asked her if she was going to have children. Couldn’t she have just laughed it off and forgotten about it?

Then again, maybe she didn’t see me as a small curious child. Maybe she saw me as a nosy snot-nosed little rug rat. She then went on to have her own nosy snot-nosed little rug rats.

I bet they were perfect children who never asked any inappropriate questions ever!

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