I’ve always been a little dubious of moms complaining about pushy/overly interested strangers giving advice or opinions. I mean, I’ve been through two pregnancies and really never ran into those “well-meaning” older ladies in the grocery store. If anything, the general public was exceedingly kind to my full-bellied self, and I loved showing off my bump. I mean, no one even tried to touch my belly! (not that I’m complaining, mind you…)
The closest I came was when I was pregnant with Olivia. I’d have George in tow at, say, the mall, and random employees/shoppers would comment about “My first was an angel, but my second was such a handful!” I remember frowning at them like, “Well, you can obviously see I’m pregnant with my second, so there’s really no going back…”
But other than that, my obnoxious-stranger stories are pretty tame.
I have the feeling this will change once we adopt our sweet son from China, so I’ll share those bizarre stories at that time.
Last week, though, I ran into a stranger with an odd question, and I keep mulling it over.
Since George was on fall break, I bribed him with Zaxby’s to accompany me to Belk, where I wanted to find a fancy dress for Olivia’s upcoming birthday party. When we got to the counter with a cupcake-themed dress, the cashier, a young, 19ish-year-old gal, studied the little girl clothes on the counter, then glanced at George.
“Do you have a daughter?” she asked.
“Uh, yes. I’m not buying these for my son here,” I laugh.
“Do you think boys or girls are harder to raise?” she tossed out.
Hmmm. This felt dicey.
I mean, first, my almost-6-year-old son is bouncing around next to me. And while he can sometimes appear to be pondering Legos or Pokemon, he actually takes in more than I expect. So, I needed to be cautious in answering.
“I mean, I think it depends on the kid. My son isn’t really the sprint-into-the-pool-head-first type of boy, so I think I’ve gotten off pretty easy.”
Ms. Cashier considers this as she scans tags. “I’m one of eight kids, and my mom always says boys are harder.”
Again, what am I supposed to do with this?
“Actually, it’s funny you say that. We’re adopting a boy from China right now, and there’s a longer waiting list for little girls. We were warned it would take longer to bring a little girl home.”
We then discussed how surprised she was that there are little boys available to adopt from China, as she was vaguely familiar with China’s (now-antiquated) one-child policy.
“Yes, there are little boys to adopt now, though many of them have special needs. And, for some reason, people have this idea that boys are harder to raise. Honestly, I was hoping for a boy.”
And with that, we paid and walked away. Then I accidentally closed the front door on George’s arm, which I still feel bad about. Oops.
For some reason, this exchange has stuck with me. Obviously, the boy/girl comparison is completely dependent upon your child and his/her personality and how you/your spouse handle his/her personality. It’s such an odd question. I mean, what’s the right answer?
“It depends on the day—no, on the moment. Or maybe the phase of the moon? Or maybe how my hormones decide on acting that day? Or if he managed to lose his favorite toy? Or if some kid sat on her on the playground?”
Yes, boys and girls generally have their different quirks. Is my son a little more rough? Sometimes, but my daughter can be pretty scrappy. Is my daughter a bit more dramatic? Sometimes, but my son can shed a few tears as well.
Plus, I think it’s such a negative question. It’s asking me to share my children’s harder moments … in front of my child … with a stranger. And I always feel a little offended on behalf of boys everywhere.
How would you answer this question?
I’m kind of torn in a lot of literary directions at the moment. I just started listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s a hefty beast at 800 pages, so I doubt I would’ve read the paper version. We’ll see if I can chug through the audio one. Thankfully, I tend to appreciate a good British accent, which this narrator possesses. I’m also reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck for book club. My to-be-read library pile is also massive, though I most recently loved Well Played by Jen DeLuca.