Monday, September 13, 2010

Auto Response

Something that you may not know about me: People tell me things. I don't know why, perhaps I am just a good listener, but people confide in me. Generally, it's strangers who have no business assuming that I am a trustworthy person worthy of confiding in.

Yesterday, while sitting down to a nice lunch at CostCo, my listening ear failed me. It could be that I am still getting over an ear infection that I contracted two weeks ago. In fact, we'll place the blame for my predicament there. Aside from that, I must confess that when a stranger is pouring out their secrets to me, I don't always give them my best attention. Especially when I am wrangling three boys and my husband is in the three-hour food court line. In these instances, my mind goes into what I like to call "Auto Response", and I use one of four blanket answers for each thing that they say. We all do it, right? Right?

The situation happened like this: As I was pulling the third of my boys from the cart I heard a woman behind me say, "Wow. Three boys, huh?" (I get this a lot. At least once every time I go to the grocery store. Apparently, we are quite the circus sideshow...)

Me: "Yup. Three boys."
Stranger: "Ever gonna try for a girl?"
(This question is the one that bothers me. Oh, blast. I can try for a girl? Shoot. If I had known, maybe I would have applied myself more...)
Me: "Ah, well, the "trying" hasn't worked so well thus far, so I think I'm just happy with my boys."
Stranger: "Wow. I'm glad that since I could only have one, it's a girl." (Points across the table to her daughter.)
Me: "Well, I'm happy for you."
Stranger: "You see, I am a school teacher and I always thought that I wanted both a boy and a girl, but after teaching boys, I am so glad that I got a girl."
Me: "Yeah, boys are certainly a different breed."
Stranger: "Yeah. I have problems with infertility so I could only do one round of IVF."
(I have nothing else to blame for what next popped out of my mouth but that my irritation with the conversation had activated "Auto Response".)
Me: "Oh, fun!"

The instant it came out, I realized what I had just said and I wanted to reach out into the thin air and grab it back. It was like watching a terrible cartoon. I quickly rambled something about how beautiful her daughter was and hoped that she hadn't noticed the insensitive, yet unintentional, comment. Our conversation didn't last long beyond that point. I tried to snuff it out and turn away with the pretense of digging through my purse and focusing all my attention on putting lipgloss on Mason, lest my mouth get me further into trouble.

Ironically, the subject of a daughter came up later during lunch with Ethan. While eating his pizza, he declared that, "Mom, if you ever do get your own girl, you're gonna have to give it it's own room, 'cause we don't want it to bother us."

Maybe I'm better off...


  1. I love this! Can I tell you I feel the same way. I have decided I must look like a circus as well... .I always get the "Are they all yours?" "Wow you are REALLY young?" Like I am 16 with 3 babies? Grocery store people are a different breed! Funny stuff...

  2. I do beleive we have all done that. Aren't you glad you aren't neighbors or anything. And I would bet she was kicking herself with the "trying for a girl bit" and the "I am a teacher and after teaching boys..." and the "wow 3 boys" parts. Be glad in this area I am getting hit with "isn't it time to start working on #3?"

    *costco hotdogs rock!

  3. Costco hotdogs do ROCK!!!

    Brooks you are great! I get it with only two... "wow, you have your hands full." "oh, you want more?"... is it really any business of a stranger whether we want to have more kids? NO
    Love you!

  4. I have the same problem believe it or not. Practical strangers seem to pour out their hearts and souls to me and only very rarely do I ever have something to say in return. So I can't hardly fathom why they would come back nut they do until we're not strangers any more. I could never relate my experiences in such a comical way though and love to hear about yours.

  5. I can't believe she said that after teaching boys she is glad she had a girl. I'm a teacher and I have boys. What's wrong with boys?

  6. OH MY GOSH! When I was reading this I felt my claws come out! As a mother of 3 boys as well, sometimes I just don't get why people think they even need to _think_ girls are better than boys, let alone say it out loud! Especially to someone with only boys! Ugh, seriously!?

    Then I died laughing about Ethan's part in the true Ethan, so true! :)

  7. Well I don't usually get the.." wow 3 boys" bit...I have 2 girls, But I usually get "oh what a cute baby boy you have! A boy! Seriously? She's in a skirt! and it's pink! I just hope I am never the "wierd stranger" starting up conversations with people. ha ha...I probably am. :0)

  8. My mom is the same way. It must be some kind of weird vibe you guys send out--"Tell me all your deep, dirty secrets!" Also, I love going to the grocery store with my kids trailing behind me like ducklings. I've been told I'm crazy too many times to count. And I have a boy and girls, and I think they both have their pros and cons.
    But I think it was awesome how you answered on auto-response. She was kind of asking for it, you know?

  9. I just want you to know, that from now on I will wonder any time you say "oh fun" to me, if you are actually just not paying attention. I think I may start spewing random crap just to see if you catch on. Sounds like a plan to me!

  10. Ba ha ha ha ha, Yessss! I love it! I have auto response also. I hate it when people come to me in the grocery store and say, "wait till they're older, you're gonna be hating life". Really? I'm going to "hate" my life? You must really know me in the 5 seconds it took to make that judgement. Maybe if I act like a good loving mother I might actually be able to handle it and still love my children. I think the VERY worst is when random strangers pull out pictures of their children and show you... and you're stuck in line at the Target pharmacy with no where to run!

  11. Yeah you can try for a girl, you just have to have Josh pour boiling water on his privates and dress like a fairy while the making is happening! Surprised you didn't know that?