Thursday, June 11, 2009

This Post Has No Title V

(For other posts in this series, click here and here.)

This happened a few weeks ago, but it keeps sitting in my mind. So, I'm going to blog about it.

I was out alone with Kyle and Owen on a gorgeous Saturday morning. We were doing some errands and we were having a great time. We stopped at our favorite gardening center, Bucks Country Gardens. It is a beautiful, fun place to visit with the boys. They love looking at all the flowers, the fountains, the pond, etc. And the plants there are spectacular. We were there for quite awhile. The place was relatively empty and we had fun roaming around feeling like we virtually had the grounds to ourselves. We took our time picking out two big potted plants -- one for Kyle and one for Owen. The plants were identical, of course (because if it were up to K & O they would still have everything --down to the socks on their feet-- be identical... but that is a whole other story). Anyway, we had gone to the register, I had paid for the plants, and we were walking through the place to leave. Kyle was right ahead of me, carrying his plant. Owen was right behind me, carrying his plant. We had almost made it to the parking lot when I hear, behind me, a man's voice, kind of loudly, saying/shouting, "Hey, little boy! Little boy!" I turned around and saw that Owen, who obviously heard it too, had stopped just a few feet behind me to turn around to see what was going on. A young man who was clearly an employee there (he was dressed in the Bucks Country Gardens employee t-shirt), was running out of his office, toward Owen, still shouting to him, "Little boy! Wait! Little boy!" I was standing there as I watched my Owen, sweet little boy that he is, standing there doing his best to be careful with his big potted plant, with his back to me, waiting to see what this man wanted. As the guy approached he glanced at me, we made eye contact for a second, and then, to Owen he said, "Are you lost?" Owen, surely confused, didn't respond. The man repeated it, "Are you lost?" I heard Owen say, "No." The man said, pointedly, "Well, then, are you o.k.?" Owen said, "Yes." And then the man said, "Well, where is your mommy???" Owen turned slightly to nod toward me and said, "She's right there." I quickly put my hand on Owen's shoulder, and, for lack of anything better to say at the moment, simply said, "I am his mommy" to the guy, and then led Owen and Kyle to the car to go home.


Melissa said...

Aw Heather, I'm sorry. This one seems almost malicious or at least like that guy was stirring up trouble and being nosy. Clearly the boys were with you and he was being intrusive. I live in California and in a very diverse family and while I remember looks and obviously curious people in public during my childhood, I can't think of anything that comes close to this experience of yours or that one with the women in the warehouse store.
Anyway, hang in there! I love reading your blog and I'm sorry I didn't post during the recipe time but I don't have kids yet and couldn't think of anything you wouldn't already know about!

Life in the Bend said...

I was walking past a bus stop yesterday with my two kids in their stroller. A man sitting at the stop called out "I know those aren't YOUR kids" like it was a great icebreaker for making friends with a woman walking down the street. I just smiled and said they are my kids. He looked like he wanted an explanation. Sorry Buddy, not gonna happen.

Haitian-American Family of Three said...

Wow. How about "I am his mommy and here is his TWIN BROTHER." Jeesh.

Ani said...

i don't mean to be intrusive, and if the questions comes across as such, pls forgive me, but i was just wondering, did the boys (or you) address what happened in the car or at home?

although my son is 3, i know these kinds of conversations will come up at some point in the near future.

thanks for your honesty and happy weekend to you all.

Gail said...


The only good thing I can think of is the wonderful example you are setting for ignorant people. Painful as it is, things may change when they see with their own eyes how healthy a family of any mixture can be.


ShannonC said...

Heather thank you for sharing this. Throughout many of these posts it prompts me to think that one day I'll need to have tshirts made for my child with a picture of my giant head on it with screenprinted "this is my mommy" and vice versa one for me "this is my child". It's discouraging that that is a real option. The non prevelance of multi cultural families, prompt this. (the prevelance of skipped generational families is high and still causes clarification)

One the other hand. Not having been there, and having no "feeling" that these sorts of encounters carry with them... I would commend the young man for speaking up.(perhaps he ahdn't seen you & kyle???) If only to double check that in fact he was not lost and wandering toward the road. It bothers me to no end to see a child crying or with a odd look on her face (clearly separated from someone) and no grown adults stop to check and make sure they are ok.

Any way, I'm glad you shared something that was still on your mind. We all learn a little something from these things.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we have that happen to us at least once a month.

Our oldest wears glasses. And, we were at a new store picking out her frames and I was asking the man which insurance they accepted. In the meantime, oldest had clearly called me "Mommy" several times.

The man looks at us and says "Maybe you should check with her mom before buying glasses". I just stared at him for about a minute and then said something like "well, I am right here so I don't need to ask anyone".

Alejandra said...

I am from Argentine. I have light skin with very dark brown hair and eyes. May daughter is blond with green eyes. We speak only Spanish at home, and I have an accent. I have been asked "how much I charge for babysitting, because they'd 'love' to have somebody that speaks Spanish to their kids. They have asked if I've been her nanny since she was born, since she speaks Spanish so well. I have also been asked why I didn't adopt a baby from my same race. Natalia is already 6 1/2 and we have had very interesting conversations about race. She also is coming up with very interesting answers to the strangers questions (like "I am lighter skin because I bathe in Clorox every night"). I have a hard time because I am trying to teach her to be respectful, so she shouldn't be saying those things, but at the same time I can't blame her.

You have also to talk about adoption when you talk with your kids, so I imagine this makes it a hundred times harder.

It is not that we don't talk about these subjects with our kids, but I hate it when I have to address them at the wrong time because of people's ignorance and nosiness!

Thanks for being so open and sharing with us. I never post, but I have to say I learn a lot from your posts and the way you and Brandon approach life.


Katie said...

So...after these things happen, do you think of things you wish you said? I mean, maybe, "I am his mommy," got your point across to this guy. It's not your job to educate people on multiracial families, but I know I would have some serious words for anyone who asked that (not that I have kids yet, but whatever). I'm not sure yet what those words would be, and I'm not sure what kind of example I'd like to set for my theoretical children, but I don't hold back very well, though I do freeze when put on the spot.

Malia'sMama said...

Oh Heather! What an jerk! (I actually have different word sounding off in my head) I have really only had one incident even remotely close and I know how I felt, and how grateful I was that Mal was only about 10 months old... your boys are so bright, so aware that I cannot imagine what then went on in their little heads and hearts.
So sorry.

Maggie said...

ugh. really dude?

Emmers said...

Ugg, stuff like this is so hard, because like, hey its good that this guy was looking out for kids, you know, making sure that Owen wasnt just wandering around the place with a plant looking for his mom; but on the other hand, it sucks that he assumed that because you and owen and kyle dont look the same you dont belong together. I guess I look for the good in people, so maybe he was genuinely concerned and not being a jerk, but then, you expect him to be falling all over himself with apologies. I love that Owen seemed almost unfased by it - although I dont know what the ride home was like, did he ask why that dude didnt know you were his mommy by looking at you? My best friend used to get this sometimes, and although she is Asian, which seems like a more accepted adoption, she has dark skin, so people were always asking her if she was lost, or assuming that I was her mom's daughter, not her. She also got a lot of questions because her brother, although also Asian with darker skin, is not blood related, and people ask the most blunt and rude questions (and say things like, well he's not really your brother).

Cheryl and Kevin said...

We have had similar incidents being a mixed race couple. I have been standing next to my husband, who is white, and I have sales people ask if they can help me. I say no, they continue to say, I can help you...and my husband stops turns to them and says, "we are together", to which they usually say "oh", then stand and stare at us and our daughters. Luckily so far no one has stopped my husband with my daughters. I have however been approached and asked if my husband is light skinned, if my husband is indian, mexican, etc. as they are interested in my children's skin colour and exact racial make-up. I usually just say no, smile and keep shopping - away from them.
It's hard but I think you handled it graciously.

Karen Vitek said...

My heart breaks for you everytime you write a story like this. I just hope and pray that possibly in the not too distant future things like this will just simply not happen!