Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Big Boy in the Stroller

Artist: Mary Cassatt


Last year just a month or two after adopting and coming home from Chile with our second son, I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store.  I found our encounter a little bit funny and a little bit bizarre.

Sometimes it's not really what people say but the way they say it that's odd.  Then again, a lot of the time, it is what they say.  She saw me pushing C in a stroller and stopped to talk with me.  But social graces were rather lacking I'm afraid.  She greeted me abruptly and asked me who this child was which is a valid question in a way.  I proudly introduced my new son to her and said we had just brought him home from Chile a couple of months ago.  I thought congratulations were in order personally. ;)  However, she stared at him and asked dubiously "Your son?  This is your son?  You aren't just taking care of him for someone?"  Excellent question.  It's always best to make sure that someone isn't just trying to pass off a random child as their newly adopted one.  I assured her that yes, he really was my son!  I was sure of it!  She stared at me for a moment and then charmingly said "It always seems strange to me to see such a large child being pushed in a stroller."  Ah yes.  Exactly what we'd been speaking about right?  I can see how this could greatly concern someone.  I didn't feel the need to explain my reasons for pushing this large child in a stroller to her though so I settled for smiling at her and ending the conversation by wishing her a slightly amused lovely day and walking away.

I notice that this stroller issue is indeed a pressing one though.  Occasionally people have wondered aloud as we pass why "a big boy like that" isn't walking on his own!  Like we're celebrities!  I especially like that generally this isn't actually asked to me directly, just in my hearing.  That'll show me. ;)  Forget the current crisis in Europe, forget the current scandal with Planned Parenthood, this large-child-in-stroller thing is really everyone's business.

I keep thinking I will address these people who never address me directly.  That I should thank them for their concern.  I never do though.  Of course my reasons for this are nobody's business.  I do wonder sometimes though if just to give them a little pause, I should tell them that this large boy in the stroller was so ill he was hospitalized for the first year of his life, didn't walk until he was after two, and in the first information we received about him, they said there was a chance he may need to spend his life in a wheelchair.  It just goes to show you never know so why in the world bother judging such an insignificant thing like a kid in a stroller?

Little C can walk almost perfectly now though.

The thing is though that even if there is no reason whatsoever for a bigger child to be in a stroller, or not to be speaking perfectly by a certain age, etc., etc., really who cares?  There are many things in a child's life and about a child's development that outsiders know nothing about.  This is an important thing to remember.  One I may write about again. :)

Allow children to be children.  Allow them to be who they are.  They'll grow up soon enough. 




28 comments:

  1. Hats off to you Colleen,very few people would have done what you did.
    That lady did not consider that her reaction could hurt your son.
    Some people are insensitive in that respect-poking their nose in others' affairs.

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    1. That's very true Indu! One thing that I take very seriously is this idea that we never know another persons circumstances, and this is true in every situation. We shouldn't imagine we comprehend a persons motives or reasons for their choices, although of course i am guilty of this at times myself!!:) I find in the case of children though, people are very quick to judge things they know nothing about. I try not to worry about what other parents do and generally assume they must have their reasons. No ones journey is the same and yet some are very to jump to bizarre conclusions. :)
      I know all parents experience this and yet I think with adoption it is sometimes more obvious at times. I can tell you we have had some crazy experiences with people!!:)

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  2. Hi Colleen,

    I thought we had reached a point where people were not surprised at blended families, but it still seems that the ignorant are still willing to voice their unwanted opinions. Congrats on the new addition to your family, and I wish your son the best with this health. It's always great to read your posts.

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  3. Oh Colleen, unfortunately, there will always be people who feel like it's their business to comment on other people's lives. Not that all of them have bad intentions, they just don't realize how their words may hurt. Good for you for being strong and ignoring the rude comments, but don't be afraid to speak up either. Sometimes, it's only when you point something out, when people will take pause and reconsider "prejudging" others. By the way, I'm so happy your son is walking!

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    1. You're right Monica and so important to remember too that not everyone's intentions are bad. I am beginning to feel it's better to speak up in a thoughtful way in order to cause people to think differently...or at least to try. :)

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  4. You have nothing to defend or explain, Colleen. What a "bizarre" encounter, as you labeled it :)
    I'm not a part of google-plus but will try to keep up with you and your precious family. And you know how much I enjoy the stimulation of your thoughts and perspectives... ♥

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    1. Yay Rebecca!! I miss you! I have been trying to add you on FB but have had so many name changes!!:) Thank you for your kind words my friend.

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  5. It amazes me what people will say sometimes. Our son was always very tall for his age, so I would get the, why is he in a stroller, comments. They judged before knowing that he was still little and gets tired walking around for a day of shopping or at Disneyland. It is nobody's business but your own when it comes to the decisions you make for your child. Good for you for not engaging that woman and just ending the conversation.

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    1. Thank you Samantha! And yes, you make a valid point. Kids get tired out easily! I don't drive so sometimes the only hope I have of getting somewhere is using the stroller.:) I hear you!!

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  6. People sometimes say things from a place of insecurity in themselves. I do not know about the woman you were speaking to but I know from my own experience that some people that said what seem to be the most insensitive things were speaking from a void or pain in their own soul. For example I live in a small resort town. A woman I knew well all my life was in our local grocery store. I came around the corner and there she was. We started talking and I told her I was pregnant with my third child. She looked right at me and said, "I hope you stop there and take time for yourself." No congratulations, nothing. She made me feel that having a baby was just something I was doing because I could not do anything else with my life. or it was something to be embarrassed about. I was married, we were financially secure. My husband a prominent business owner. She made me feel so low. To this day when I think about how callous she was it still hurts. I also feel a pang when women who were my age then are announcing their 3rd or 4th baby and are met with nothing by praise and blessings. I ran into her many years later at a friend home party this time I was pregnant with my fourth child. I was ready for her to say something but this time the more mature, secure me would handle her but she did not. This time we were in a crowd and I am sure she did not feel the freedom to speak her mind the way she first did. I went on to have 3 more pregnancies after that. But what I found out is that her daughter and her husband could not have children. Her son and his wife had a hard struggle too and had to have IVF with lots of disappointment before having twins and a little girl. Her daughter never had children by birth or adoption. That pain is what caused her to speak the way she did.

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    1. I understand your point completely and agree with you. This goes to show as well, that again, sometimes people have their reasons for acting a certain way or saying certain things and again, we often know nothing about those reasons. Thank you for sharing this.

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    2. Carolyn, I have been in a very similar place. I have 8 children (plus a bonus son in Heaven) and only the first two were embraced by society at large with only congratulations. The subsequent children, though totally wanted and welcomed by us, were not seen to be such a blessing by multiple strangers in the grocery store. I was told to get my tubes tied and get a TV to watch. Children are blessings, not burdens! I'm with Mother Teresa on this one. She said, "How can you say there are too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers."

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    3. Carolyn, I have been in a very similar place. I have 8 children (plus a bonus son in Heaven) and only the first two were embraced by society at large with only congratulations. The subsequent children, though totally wanted and welcomed by us, were not seen to be such a blessing by multiple strangers in the grocery store. I was told to get my tubes tied and get a TV to watch. Children are blessings, not burdens! I'm with Mother Teresa on this one. She said, "How can you say there are too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers."

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  7. I'm really shocked at your friend's response. It came off as pretty rude, even if that may not have been her intent! And, you're right that people pick strange topics to pass judgment on instead of focusing on more important things!

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    1. Very true!:) Thank you for coming by.:)

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  8. Sometimes people act in a certain way and we don't have to change our focus on what we are doing as a result of such encounters . We cant control their thoughts but we can always control the way we react.

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    1. I really like that first line there. What an excellent way of putting it! Thank you!

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  9. I could not agree with you more, my parenting is my business as is yours. Each to their own is one of my favorite sayings!
    I plan on confining my youngest for as long as possible as he is a threat to national security (ok joking but he is a runaway terror!). A mum i know has 5 year old twins and still puts them in a pram to save her sanity some days! I know her quite well so i am allowed to laugh at her because it is a running joke!
    I am off to read more of your stories.

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    1. Haha!!:) Thank you Ann! You have a way with words!:)

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  10. I was trembling with anger on reading this. I feel people are just so insensitive when they say things. I have had relatives say things about my kids in front of them as if they are deaf and dumb. It just gets my goat. Sometimes, I feel so angry that I hit back. At other times, I let it go. It really is wrong to behave in this way. There are no two ways about it.

    I think once I became a parent, I became less judgmental about others' choices. I may wonder in my head if I found something out of the ordinary. I would never say something like this to someone's face, that is for sure.

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    1. Rachna thank you. I feel the same as you do.

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  11. I don't understand why some people think it's necessary to judge other parents. We're all doing the best we can! Agree with the above comment, becoming a parent made me less judgemental. After all, it's the hardest thing to do and the easiest thing to have an opinion about!

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    1. That is true! I think the best thing would be for everyone just to focus on their own parenting and really not worry about anyone elses!:)

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  12. I'm with you, sister! I too have been the subject of rude and prying questions from strangers regarding my family as well. I guess a lot of people just have no idea how insensitive they come across. Why can't we just acknowledge the beauty of all children no matter what their particular family circumstances are?

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    1. That would be ideal, wouldn't it? All those other things they ask the prying questions about are just not important in comparison to the actual small person standing there listening to someone ask odd things about them. Thank you for your comment. :)

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  13. Seriously, unless you are harming your child, all other parenting decisions, including strollers shouldn't be anyone else's business. I remember when we had 3 under 3 and the comments I would get about purchasing a TV for starters. From strangers. They all seem to have an opinion and it needs to be voiced.

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    1. You are so very right! It seems anything even slightly out of the ordinary provokes these comments. We need to learn to keep our opinions to ourselves regarding other people's parenting...:)

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