I will preface this
rant blog post by saying, I am the most open person I know. I am more or less happy to tell anybody anything, if I know the person asking, and the question is appropriate…y’know, sometimes even when it’s not, I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt if it seems to be coming from a genuine place.
You want to know about my bizzaro autoimmune thing and the treatment for it? Just ask! No problem. You’re thinking of getting house rabbits and not sure how that will work with kids/a dog/a house full of electrical equipment…I’d be delighted to share what (little) wisdom I have to offer. Birth? Breastfeeding? My opinions on local schools (since we looked round pretty much all of them- some twice). How to go about applying to become a foster carer? A little about the reality of life as a foster carer?
I will generally chat to anyone about whatever they want to know about. Maybe, that in fact is my where I’ve gone wrong. Maybe in being so open, and not drawing any boundaries, I’ve left myself open to people taking THE COMPLETE AND UTTER PISS.
Guess how many times since we were approved as foster carers in January I have been asked if I will adopt a baby…go on- GUESS. I bet you won’t get anywhere near the actual figure. In fact, go ahead and take whatever number you came up with and MULTIPLY IT BY INFINITY. Now you’re getting warm.
Guess how many times I’ve been asked if I’ll be having any more children “of my own” and/or “why not?!” Don’t be shy! Take a WILD STAB IN THE DARK. Is your number in the hundreds? IT SHOULD BE.
Now for bonus points, can you tell me, WHY IN GOD’S HOLY NAME WOULD YOU ASK ANYBODY THAT?
Do y’all hear yourselves when you speak? Do you realise what you’re actually asking?
Because when you ask someone about their plans (or not, as the case may be) to expand their family, this is what they’re likely to hear:
- Questions about their fertility
- Questions about their general health and ability to carry a pregnancy to term
- Reminders of previous pregnancies, births and losses
- Questions about their relationship
- Questions about their sex life
- Questions about their contraception
- Questions about their parenting skills and current family life
- Memories of their own childhoods and siblings (if they have them)
- Questions about their age
And that’s just for starters. If you’re a parent yourself, then think about the colossal multitude of shit you went through in your head the moment you decided to try for a baby, the things you agonised over, the things you wrangled about, the hoops you jumped through to get to that point. Or if your pregnancy was unplanned consider all the things that whirled through your mind in the days after you found out. Now imagine verbalising that to a stranger in the school playground as you’re kissing your five year old goodbye and wishing him a good day.
Last week I had another parent at school who I’ve never spoken to before approach me and strike up a conversation. Now I like to think I’m pretty friendly (contrary to the vibe this post, and in fact my blog in general may give off!) so I answered her questions, asked my own in reply, and had a bit of a chat. The parent in question put me on the spot twice, asking me why I wasn’t having anymore children of my own and why I “didn’t want” (her words, absolutely not mine!) to adopt our current foster baby and despite feeling uncomfortable, having not prepared myself emotionally or mentally for that line of questioning at 9am on a Monday morning, I answered as honestly as I could. She offered some information in exchange and then went on her way. It was slightly odd but I thought perhaps it could be the beginning of a school playground friendship and maybe now we’d broken the barrier and spoken to each other we’d end up chatting more often.
Well…she hasn’t spoken one word to me since. Which wouldn’t mean anything I guess if it weren’t for the fact that WE SEE EACH OTHER TWICE A DAY EVERY DAY.
So basically, she saw me suddenly have a baby with me one day, her curiosity got the better of her and she mined me for information, at the expense of my time and emotional wellbeing.
This may shock you all to your very core, since I write some pretty personal stuff on this blog, but just because I don’t burst into tears every time I mention my three miscarriages and molar pregnancy and the fact I have a lifelong debilitating neurological condition doesn’t mean that talking about it doesn’t affect me at all.
When I sit down to write, I get to choose what I want to share (or not) and how I want to phrase it, and if it gets too hard then I can press delete or save it for another day when I’m more ready to delve into that topic. When someone is bombarding me with question after question after question, like a motherfucking interview, at the school gates, one hour after I’ve woken up and with three small children in my care, it’s not the same thing AT ALL.
So today, at 3.15, as I attempted the epic challenge that is EXITING THE SCHOOL GROUNDS WITHOUT RESORTING TO MURDER OR BEING FATALLY INJURED, yet another parent I have never spoken to before in my life called out to me from behind “Excuse me- but is that your baby?!”
She looked sceptical
“Really? When was it born?”
“March” I shrugged and then walked off because I will be damned if I am going to be privy to anybody else’s fucking nosiness disguised as friendliness.
And yes I felt pretty guilty for about 30 full minutes afterwards, because I’m the kind of person who will apologise when someone else steps on my toe, and who tries to see the best in everyone.
But- you want to know me? Then GET TO KNOW ME. If all you really want to know is the ins and outs of foster care and what kind of situation Squishlet’s birth parents are in and why I’m suddenly parading around with a baby despite not having been pregnant recently then I may as well be filling in a bloody questionnaire. Because that aint friendly, there’s no give or take, there’s nothing behind that other than sheer nosiness.
Look I’m as nosy as the next person but I would never EVER, in all my merry fucking days ask anybody other than perhaps a handful of my absolute closest friends whose situations I was intimately acquainted with, if they were thinking of having a baby, or if they could see themselves adopting a child at some point in their life. For the most part I don’t ask people anything, I find that if people have something they want to share then for the most part they will WITHOUT INTERROGATION. I know, who would have thought it?!
So please, and I’m asking nicely, before you ask somebody a BIG QUESTION like that, stop and think for a second, what is it that you’re really asking?
Do you know how that question might make that person feel, both in that instant and for the rest of the day? Are you yourself prepared for the answer?
If you jokingly ask someone if they’re pregnant with twins because they’re so ‘big’ are you prepared for the fact that maybe they were and they lost one? Or maybe they’re not but there are problems with their pregnancy, like excess fluid that maybe they don’t want to discuss with a total stranger in tesco but might now feel like they have to.
If you’re curious why as a foster carer someone wouldn’t put themselves forward to adopt a child living with them, before you verbalise that maybe have a think if there’s anything you don’t know, that they might not be able to share with you about their situation or the child’s situation that might make it not an option.
Or if you can’t put the brakes on your mouth then at least brace yourself for what might be an emotional reaction, or for receiving information that you then can’t process yourself.
I’m not saying DON’T TALK TO PEOPLE. I’m not saying don’t attempt pleasant chit-chat or attempt to make new friends, I’m just saying that interrogating people you don’t know very well (or at all) is NOT the way forward.
Ok. I’m done.
**prepares self for no one ever speaking to me ever again after reading this**