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Real Life, Real Moms: 'What are They?'

Is this a question I am obligated to answer about my kids?

While grocery shopping with my three kids, we were stopped by a lady. She began to gush over my children, and how she thought my kids were, “Some of those kids, you know? The ones where they have eight, the twins and and then six more?”

In my confusion, I thought for a moment she was referring to the OctoBabies. But then she said, “Your kids look just like them. Kate Plus 8!”

(For the record, I look nothing like Kate.)

I was taken aback as I quietly considered my children’s resemblance to the Gosselin kids. As it turns out, I didn’t need to respond because the lady continued chattering on how my daughter Cupcake especially looked liked one of the Gosselins.

The lady paused, and I knew it was coming. I waited, and she did not disappoint. She abruptly blurted out, “What are they, exactly? Your kids, I mean?”

At this point, I murmured that my children are half-Korean and half-Caucasian. Then the kids and I moved on to continue our shopping.

“What are they?”

This is a question I get asked often, more so when my kids were small babies. I have always answered honestly, as I did that day. However, I also always wonder: why do you want to know? I do not go around asking others, “What are you?” Most of the time, I remain unaware of a person’s heritage. As a matter of fact, I have to ask The Husband what he is since I generally refer to him as Midwestern white-bread American!

I understand there might be some fascination because my kids look exotic, but really? Is it acceptable to just ask people what they are? I prefer not to be cagey and give flip responses such as, “They are American,” or “They are people,” although I would like to sometimes!

I wish I could find an answer to that question which politely lets the questioner know that I am uncomfortable with being asked.

Summer August 16, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Why do you need to answer such a rude question?? "Why do you ask?" would be an appropriate answer. Or simply walk away. Only a profoundly ignorant person would be so rude and such people deserve nothing in return. Gosh, I can think of a myriad of answers to put such a person in his/her place.
Patrick Batu August 17, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Summer, I think that's a bit harsh to take the stance of "putting her in her place." I mean, from the article it sounded like the woman was truly and genuinely enamored by the children. Granted, I agree that it was a somewhat ignorant thing to say to a total stranger but you have no idea of that woman's background. She honestly could be from an area where they just don't see other ethnicities. Best way to combat ignorance is educate the ignorant. Now if the woman was being rude and make faces or talking under her breath and staring at the kids and then asked the question, that's a whole different story. Then that's grounds for some confrontation.
Valerie Wellstead August 19, 2011 at 05:33 AM
People frequently don't stop to think before they talk. They certainly don't dwell on it. So why should you.

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