Monday, January 14, 2008

Today in the Grocery Store

It seems that ever since I started going to the grocery store with K & O (which was, basically, very soon after they came home from Haiti), there is always a story to tell about each and every trip we make. For some reason it is in the grocery store that we have our most interesting (read between the lines) experiences. Today was no exception. Today, in addition to all the normal mundane stuff that occurs when you bring two three year old boys to the grocery store with you, not just one but two interesting things happened!

Setting the scene-- Huge grocery store. The boys were in the kind of cart where in between the actual food bin part of the cart and the part that you push, there is a small bench that fits two kids. K & O are sitting squeezed together and with me pushing the cart their heads were just below my head. These stories are true stories.


Story 1

About mid-way through the trip, at the end of one of the middle aisles, I was concentrating on trying to search an upper shelf for a specific thing on my list. I was lost in the task, not really focused on anything except trying to find this thing as quick as possible. My concentration is broken when I hear, "Hey!" Then again, "Hey?!" I look up. About halfway down the aisle is a well dressed middle aged white woman, standing with no cart or basket or anything in her hands. There are several people in between us, but she's looking directly at me saying loudly, "Hey?!!" -- apparently trying to get my attention. She's got everybody else's attention in the aisle, including K & O's. I look at her (my head just above K & O's) with a startled look of 'Are you talking to me?' on my face. She says (loud enough for me to hear, with half a long aisle and several other shoppers separating us), "Are those your kids?" I totally hear her, but do what I always do in these situations... I act like I can't hear her in order to buy myself some time to think quick (remember, in addition to the audience of other shoppers, my most important audience -- K & O -- are right there just inches away from my mouth). She belts it out louder, "Are THOSE your kids?" I nod as proudly and confidently as I can given that I'm totally nervous about what is about to unfold. She starts walking toward me very quickly and aggressively, weaving in and out of people (who are all staring at me and her) as she approaches. I conscientiously lean my body and head in tight with K & O's. As she gets within a few steps of me she suddenly stops. Looks me right in the eye. Point blank says, "Are they YOUR CHILDREN????" I say, "Yes." She says, "I thought I was hearing them call you 'mom'? Are they your kids?" I say, "Yes, they are my kids." She says, "Like, you had them???" I do what I always do in such moments (I'm pretty sure I know exactly what she's asking but I want her to be the one to feel like an idiot, not me, and definitely not K & O), I ask with a look of sincere confusion on my face, "What do you mean?" She says, "YOU had THEM?" I said, "I did not give birth to them, if that's what you mean. I adopted them, they are my kids, they were adopted." She looks at me in total shock. "Oh," she says, "I couldn't figure it out. I kept hearing them call you 'mom' and I just couldn't figure it out." I stand there silently. K & O are looking straight at her. Everyone around us now starts to pretend to be shopping in the aisle again. She says, "I know about bi-racial kids, but I've never seen kids that dark come out of a person as white as you." I smiled as sweet-fake as I possibly could and said, "Oh." She says, "I mean, they are really dark. What do they call that? Pigment? They have very dark pigment. And you're so white. I couldn't figure out how they were your kids." I looked at her and said, "They are my kids." And that was that. We kept on moving (and when I got home and was unpacking the bags I realized that I had forgotten the item I had been looking for when that whole interaction began).


Story 2

Totally other kind of 'story'... So, we're toward the end of the trip. The boys have been behaving very well, all things considered. I've been very focused on getting out as quickly as possible so I haven't really been watching too closely what they're doing since they're not seeming to cause any problems. We're in the bread and dairy aisle, the widest aisle. It is crowded with people and carts. I sort of anchor our cart toward the middle of the aisle and from there I start quickly gathering each item we need and then placing it in the cart. I'm going back and forth, back and forth. I start to notice some people snickering, some people openly laughing out loud, some people giving each other looks of disgust. I get nervous it is something regarding my boys. A random shopper walks by me and says, "They're twins?" I say, "Yes." He says flatly, "Wow." Another random shopper nearby says cheerily, "I had three boys who almost sent me to the insane asylum, but I'd take three boys of different ages over two twin boys any day!!!" I laugh. She says, "I'm not kidding!" From the cheese section I bend around another customer to try to peer down the aisle to check on K & O. They are sitting on the cart bench, with their bodies turned so that they are face to face. At first I think they are cutely kissing. But no. To my horror I can clearly see that they have their mouths wide open and they are french kissing. People are staring. Some people have even stopped dead in their tracks to stare. I run over to them and start pushing the cart forward. "Guys! Please! No tongues!!!" That gets a big rise out of them. They start laughing and doing it more. As I move as quickly as possible through the rest of the dairy aisle I periodically look down to see them giggling, french kissing, and licking each other all over their faces. "Guys! Guys! Please!!" I say. "What mommy? We like it!!!" they say in unison. "Who wants a cookie?!!!!!!" I say as I frantically break open a package of fig newtons from our cart.


Life in Fitzville said...

"I know about bi-racial kids, but I've never seen kids that dark come out of a person as white as you."

You are so nice... at that point my smart mouth would have lost control and I might have said something like "I know about ignorance, but i've never heard something so stupid come out of person's mouth!"

And the other story... Bahaha! OMG... I just about peed my pants reading that!

Malia'sMama said...

The first one i can, this week, perfectly relate to, unfortunately. Not sure if you still read my blog, at all, but 2 posts in 3 days are about this-
And, I am sorry that, K&O being older understand more of this nonsense...

As for the second experience- oh dear GOD!! LMAO!!

trish said...

The first one seriously made me cry, the second one made me laugh. Parental roller coaster of emotions.
Give those boys a hug from me!

Tim & Sarah said...

My husband and I have children that are bi-racial. I really hate it when people ask us if they are ours!! I usually just say yes and move right along. I think you handled this well!!! I would have only been able to look at her and say "does it matter?"

erin said...

Wow. I can't get over the insistence of that woman! I hope I will be as collected as you if/when that happens when I'm with the guys. I've gotten "Is that your baby?" with Lire, but it was said with a gentle, sweet tone and not screamed across an aisle.

The french kissing -- way too funny! Our guys like to talk loudly about whether the juice they drink comes out of their hinies (sp?) or penises. Oh, and they like to talk about eating ka-ka. said...

Wow! I thought my kid was the only one who always looked into toilet and said "Hey Mommy! I'm gonna eat my ca-ca."
But back to the issue at hand. My husband and I are both on the lighter end of the spectrum, and we get double-takes often when are out with our little Scoop of Haitian chocolate. Polite curiosity doesn't bother me. But that cow in the grocery store went too far.
If I didn't know any better, I would think she was actually pushing you to apologize to her for your egregious sin of mothering those two boys. What a painful thing for K & O to have to hear--like they need to justify their existence and family to ANYONE!
Whoa! I need to stop and go have a cocktail...

Tricia V. said...

Some day your sons are going to be very, very embarrassed about story #2.

And story #1? There is no excuse for such actions. What I AM impressed by is the mama-bear defending her kids. Way to go!!

Anonymous said...

I CANNOT believe that first story. Heaven help the person who would pull that on me.
You're a champ! I don't know how you hold it together. YIKES!
2nd story.. Oh my word.. I can vision you pushing the buggy trying to get them to stop. Too funny. My silly boys!! You gotta love um. They are full of life.

Mrs. Incredible said...


I've never had anyone be so blatantly rude as the first woman. I think I would have had to ask "how is any of this YOUR BUSINESS?", or better yet, tell her to MIND her damn business.

BTW, thanks for making me pee my pants.

Love, Corey

Jess said...

oh my, oh my oh my. Sheesh.

Kristen said...

Oh Heather. I was seething for you reading your first story, and literally covering my face in embarrassment for you while reading the second one! OMG!!! You handled it all like a champ... much much better than I think I would have.

alex said...

oh my goodness....that's all i have to say...oh my goodness! those boys! love and hugs all around

trish said...

... and how you handled this is one of the many reasons I gave you an award. Check it out!

Ani said...

Oh my gosh - the first story just left me speechless. I think I would've burst out crying in anger and frustration over this woman's ignorance, lack of manners and just plain stupidity!

The second story had me laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face. Poor you! :)

ManyBlessings said...

Ok...the first story had me fuming. What nerve that lady had. And the sad thing is that people like that really DO exist.

The second story? The thought that kept running through my head (as I spit my coffee all over;)) was what great stuff that will be for their weddings. Gotta love it when they "hand" you things like that. Hahahaha!!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Heather.

Maggie introduced me to your blog. I find it quite interesting and amusing. Your boys are so cute!

I'm leaving this comment, in part, because Maggie is requiring that I do so. In fact, she is sitting next to me write now. She is afraid you will think it is her that is stalking your page.

Anyhow, Maggie assured me that she would introduce us at ASA this year. If I seem star struck, you'll know why.

Maggie's UIC Grad Sociology Friend

PS I have a few questions about your book. It was very interesting and I am considering using it in a course I am teaching next year.

Bek said...

Awesome. How many more times in your life will you have to ask your children to refrain from french kissing EACHOTHER in a store? ;-)

The first story, well, we have all been there--huh? We were at Disneyland this weekend and I can think of about 10 times when I was standing right next to my two children (or next to N in the stroller) and had park employees walk up to the kids and radio someone to "take care of a kid that is lost" or "parents have left the stroller unattended". Hmmm. Seaworld was the worst. Once, I was standing 10 inches from N while she craweled around on the ground near some bushes. A well dressed, middle aged white woman (maybe your woman's sister?) was getting SO bothered by "this baby that someone just let wander off" and that had been "left alone by a thoughtless mother", etc. It was kind of funny. My husband and I looked at each other and laughed. We were CLEARLY standing over her--she even sat on my feet at one point--but we let the lady get really worked up and send her husband off to "find someone" before we piped up. I just said "I've got this under control, I have an eye on her". She looked at me and said "that is yours?".

Yes, that is mine. I might have to get her a pin next time that says "my mom is white....". Sigh.
Sorry that it happened while K and O were able to hear and understand. It just gets MORE interesting when baby sister comes, but you will handle it with humor and grace like you do the rest of it....

T&T Livesay said...

I would have kicked her ... story one I mean -- that is just stupidity. What a dumb ass.


Rony said...

Oh, Heather how did you maintain your composure?! I've been approached so many times that I can feel their eyes upon me. I more often than not grab the girls hands move in the opposite direction. Makes my blood boil.
The second story made me laugh out loud. I would have died of embarrassment..But what do you do?! They're just kids. Brothers.