Saturday, April 19, 2008

Etiquette 101

Have we all completely forgot about the basic manners we learned as children?
  • "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
  • "It's not polite to stare"
  • "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
In the electronic world we all live in, it seems that we have forgotten how to communicate verbally. Or when we do attempt to communicate, the results at times are well.....not spectacular.

Or are we all just plain nosy and should STFU? I mean, I'll be the first to admit that depending on the juiciness of the news, I can be a bit of a gossip. I like to think these times are few and far between. For the most part, I don't care to talk about everything and everyone as I am much more concerned about things that impact me and my family. What it comes down to is it just plain isn't any of my business and I have plenty of other things to keep me busy.

What has brought me to this discussion today is I was reading a mommy blog recently and ran across a story over at Triple Play. Kelli is a triplet mom and a friend of a friend. She shares her experience on a recent family outing and how everyone, everywhere was so "intrigued" (and I use that term very loosely) that she has triplets. I admit, I would be intrigued also - intrigued from AFAR. But keep in mind, NEVER in a million years would I ever go up to such a person and inquire as to how they conceived, can I take a picture, how do they afford "all those kids" and so on. WTF business is it of mine??? Do we go up to parents of a single child and ask how this child came to be - of course not! I have been out to the mall with Jess on occasion and she gets a few looks with her brood (triplet boys & twin girls for those who aren't in the know), and while the stares are a little rude, you can appreciate that this is a sight that most people haven't seen before. I find it somewhat amusing, but then again, I'm not the mom getting the stares.

Get over it people. There are triplets and quads and quints and so much more in the world. How is what you're seeing - 3 infants or toddlers - so different from someone with 3 kids? Because they all came at the same time? What if there were 3 kids each a year apart - any thoughts on that? Do you plan on asking about details regarding her pregnancy, bedrest, how delivery went, at what point did she deliver? Seriously - you would ask a total stranger these questions??? I'm sure these moms of multiples would welcome your adoring gaze or kind smile. These are some pretty busy women. But kindly, don't go asking questions that you know are inappropriate just to satisfy a selfish need. If you wonder to yourself if you should ask the question or you preface the question with "I hope you don't mind me asking...." I'm betting the answer is No, you shouldn't ask that question. We know how much we have to prepare for an outing with one kid, let alone three or more. I'm betting this Mom came to the mall to run an errand and pick up a few things and chances are, she might not have the time to respond to your innocent, yet intrusive inquiries. Now please don't take this the wrong way, this doesn't mean don't talk to these women. All moms welcome adult conversation. Just be thoughtful and don't follow them to their car to "see how on earth you can get all of those kids into the car".

That being said, I know I have stuck my foot in my mouth on MANY occasions, more than I care to admit. I know that I have probably said some things at times that have offended Jessica and I know I have done it in the past just because I haven't always been the best at thinking before I speak. Heck, I still have these moments. Once, about 11 years ago, I asked my a friend - who had a 1 yo girl at the time - "When are you going to stop nursing?" Her tactful response was "When I think we're ready." Wow, she put me in my place. I was 23 and had NO clue. I had no idea how important breastfeeding was to Mom as well as the baby, no clue about bonding or basically children in general (regardless of how sassy I was about my experience with children). I always knew that my words could hurt someone, but that day I learned how my innocent inquisitive nature could unintentionally hurt someone. I have tried to be better about the foot in mouth thing since.

After having my own child, I have also experienced this first hand, although not to the extent of Kelli and Jess. People often offer unsolicited advice and they have the best intentions so I simply try to say thank you with a smile. Sometimes of course this is harder than other times, then I get snarky. Their advice might go against everything you believe in as a parent, but their words aren't meant to hurt and chances are, they only made the gesture because they care about you. Now for someone to completely disregard everything you say or wish as a parent.....well that is strength that I am developing as we speak. I was out with the baby recently and we all know that people love to touch new babies. I was carrying my trusty travel size bottle of Purell and asked this person to dab some on their hands. They abruptly pulled away saying they are not a believer of that and seemed offended that I wouldn't let them touch the baby. Um...last time I checked, they wanted to touch and rub on MY child. I'm the mommy and these are my rules. You think your innocent words just roll off our backs and for the most part they do, but at the same time, can't we respect the parents wishes? I am a responsible, grown woman. I don't believe that I am being unreasonable, however your behavior indicates that you think I am. Get over it.

As for you folks at the mall that can't help but walk up to a total stranger, inquire about their conception procedures and have the nerve to ask for a picture with their kids or whatever else....know when to draw the line. Is the world going to end if you just stay in your seat and don't satisfy that curiosity of yours? Yeah.....I didn't think so.

I know this doesn't impact me as much as some others but at the same time, I just couldn't NOT say something.


Girl said...

People don't get it. I don't even have 5 and I get wow that's a lot of kids. I can't imagine what other gals like Jess must go through. I have to admit though I do look at the fancy strollers and cute kids but I try and keep my comments to myself.

Jessica said...

I don't recall any times that you've specifically offended me. :) In fact I think you're pretty tactful in your speaking...
Since you've been out with me before in these types of situations, you know that I'm not necessarily the friendlist person around when it comes to my kids. I do wish that I could be more like my outgoing self when people approach me. Instead I definitely have a very large wall up, and am always prepared for the most outlandish statements possible. It never fails, I always get one that amazes me. :)

Kelli said...

Hi Nita!

Very well said! Thank you! :-)

But...more importantly....the pics of your sweet baby boy are SO adorable in your last post! That smile! Those cheeks! So beautiful!

- Kelli

Nita said...

Thank you so much - we think so!

Your boys are cutie pies too. Man, the world is gonna have some handsome men in the next 20 years!