To one guy in particular and jerks like him everywhere in general:
Perhaps at the top of the list of rudest things you could say to another person is, “Don’t you think it’s time for you to stop [having kids]?”
We passed you on our way into the store; you were on your way out. You couldn’t resist the urge to comment on my children: “Are they all yours?” – In a tone that suggested I had an entire preschool with me. (By the way, do you speak to every person you pass in the store entryways, or only those who have more than three children with them?)
No, they’re not all mine. Just one of them. The rest I picked up at the bus stop down the block. I didn’t say what I wanted to; I just nodded and continued on my path into the store.
“I have four kids too.” With a satisfied nod, your smugness was justified.
You had insisted on halting me to listen to what you had to say, so I decided to throw it out there: “My oldest son is gone on a trip right now.”
“You have FIVE???” One would have thought that I had just tried to walk three elephants, six giraffes, an ostrich, and a rhinoceros into the store. “Yes, I do.” And I tried yet again to continue into the store and get on with my day.
“Don’t you think it’s time to stop?”
EXCUSE ME? I just stared at you. I did my best to bore a “did-you-really-just-say-that-to-me” look into a hole right between your eyes.
Instead I tried – one more time – to get one with my shopping trip. This time you followed me BACK into the store.
“Well? Don’t you?”
Enough was enough. I shook my head at you in the way someone does when they just cannot believe what is happening, and I walked away. Had I been without my VERY LARGE BROOD OF CHILDREN, I might have had some very choice things to say to you.
Did you notice that we are all dressed decently, all looking well-put-together, all of my children calm and behaving themselves (if you ignore the fact that one of my two year olds DID NOT want to sit in the cart)? I mention these things not because they make us “better” people, but because they are further proof that you had absolutely no call, biased or not, prejudiced or otherwise, to say the things you said to me.
Did you bother to think about the fact that the only reason I am BLESSED with as many children as I am, is because there actually ARE parents out there who should not be having children but continue to do so? Did you even care to consider the fact that what you see as “too many,” I see as “not enough”? What you think constitutes “time to stop,” I see as barely a drop in the bucket of the children who need the parents who are not only willing to take them in but actually WANT them to be part of their family, regardless of the personal cost.
Would you have shut up had I set you straight on why I have “SO MANY” children and why, “NO, it is NOT time for me to stop!”? Maybe, but I’m betting against you on that one. Because anyone with the audacity to tell a stranger it’s time to stop having children – and attempt to demand an answer when one is not given – doesn’t have the capacity to feel compassion for “the least of these.”
And no, I didn’t bother to set you straight. I stared at you for a moment before simply walking away. Because first of all, I didn’t want to say something in front of my children that I would later regret; and secondly, it doesn’t matter, because how many children I have, regardless of how they are granted to me, is none of your business.
You, sir, are a smaller person than my smallest child; and she is quite a peanut.