With such a large family, we tend to attract a lot of undesired attention in public. Granted, our flock of children crossing the road will stop traffic like a line of yellow ducklings. But unlike the ducklings, we do not usually get the “oh sooo cute” reaction. I would say the majority of opinions range from flabbergasted, to disapproving.
And yet, there are always a few whose kind hearts that can get past the shock.
A few days ago Wife waddled into a salon for a hair trim. She maneuvered her swollen belly to a seat, and the hairdresser began small talk. Naturally, the hairdresser addressed her pregnancy, “So, is it your first?”
Wife’s shoulders rose slightly and she chuckled, “No.”
Wife prepared herself for an uncomfortable half hour game of question and answer. “Uh No,” she said still smiling.
The hairdresser seemed to think for a second. “Your fifth?” she said with an air as if Wife could not possibly have more.
For a moment, Wife struggled to find a way to politely not answer the question. When she was unable to quickly think of something, she prepared for the inevitable. “You’re going to fall down.”
“Okay,” the hairdresser said, visibly bracing herself.
“It’s my tenth.”
The hairdresser stopped combing out Wife’s hair. “Wow.” Luckily she had not started the trim, because at that moment she would have surely notched Wife’s hair terribly.
Wife sat in her chair like a palm tree, waiting for the oncoming tsunami of opinions. Remarks like, “You know what causes that, don’t you?” and “Why don’t you buy a TV for your bedroom?” Or “You know, there are ways to prevent it.”
The hairdresser again continued her work with the comb. “Well, um,” she stammered. “Wow. Do you know what this one is?”
“This one is a girl,” Wife said, still preparing for a snide comment. “She’ll even us out.”
“Oh,” the hairdresser said excitedly. “Five boys and five girls?”
“I want two boys when I have children,” the hairdresser said swiftly, as if regaining her footing on a sandy beach. “But, if I had twins after the first baby, I would have to have another. I can’t have an odd number of children.”
And suddenly, the tsunami of snide remarks Wife waited for, broke apart on the reefs and never reached the shore.
While the hairdresser gave Wife a trim, she spoke a mile a minute about her own ideas of family life. How she wanted boys because they were easier to raise than girls. How her husband wanted girls. And again, how she would not have an odd number of children.
Wife sat back listening, commented when appropriate, and let go of her built up tension. She had become so used to unwanted advice from strangers, that she had forgotten how nice it was to just be taken at face value, and drawn into small talk that had no bearing on her.