Large Family FAQ: Grocery Store Interrogation

Posted: November 15th, 2012 under Homemaking, Housework, Large family.
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My brood. Perhaps the hardest thing about raising a large family is getting everyone to look at the camera.

Imagine if you will a typical grocery store visit for me.  I am one of those “perimeter” shoppers.  Because  I don’t buy many processed foods, and fresh ingredients have a bigger volume than boxed snacks, my cart is ALWAYS heaped up on top and fully loaded on the bottom rack. When I head to the check out, I typically have to pull my cart, because I am usually carrying a couple bunches of bananas in my arms, and maybe a few bags of ripe peaches, too.  I rarely take my younger children to the grocery store with me, primarily because I don’t have enough room in the cart, but also because they assault the groceries and thwart the other shoppers.  Last week I had to take both of my youngest.  Big mistake.  My four-year-old kept jumping in front of other carts, spread eagle, and demanding, “What’s the pass word?”  Later, back at home, I discovered teeth marks in the tube of goat cheese.  Beautiful, lovely teeth marks.  Like a dentist’s impression.

Tag-team troublemakers

Once I get to the check out, the interrogation begins.  Sometimes questions come from the cashier, but usually they are from another customer, like the unhappy soul in line behind me.  Now mind you, I go through a form of these same questions every time I go to the grocery store.  Everytime.  EV-ER-Y TIME.

“Are you having a party?”

No.  (Sometimes I say, “No, we are our own party.” But I digress.)

“How many children do you have?”

Nine.  Seven boys, two girls.  Ages 21-2, no twins.   (Right there I just pre-empted the next three questions.)

Then it comes:

“Are you Catholic?

Are you Mormon?

Are you Orthodox Jew?”

No, I’m Presbyterian.  (That last question might throw you, but it might help you to know that we are one of the only Gentile families in the entire neighborhood.  We live within walking distance of a synagogue.  Or maybe it’s because they saw the Kosher chicken; yeah, right there in the cart next to the pork tenderloin…)

I BRACE MYSELF BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT:

“Do you know the Duggars?”

No. I don’t even own a TV.

THEN THEY ALWAYS SAY:

“I hope you figure out what causes it!” and of course, they laugh at their own joke because, after all, it is so clever, so witty, so original.  I just smile.

Now there are variations of the Frequently Asked Questions that my older children have to endure, especially if they are on outings with the youngest siblings.  My nineteen-year-old daughter has to deal with a whole different realm of questions and assumptions.  Like this summer when the lifeguard helped her coaxed the little ones out of the pool by telling them to “Listen to your mother!”

Then there is a question that REALLY shocked me.  That is, really shocked me  when I heard it the first time.  It occurs when I am on an errand with my oldest son and one of the youngest children.  Complete strangers will look at us and ask me if I am on my second marriage!  Excuse me?  I don’t have a clever response.  I just reply, “No, there are seven in between” and smile. Frankly, I am not sure whether they are baffled by the age difference of my children or think my son is my second husband.

Oldest and youngest – Easter 2011

Oldest son, youngest son

 Then there is a final realm of questions that is related to those people, like the health department nurse or the census bureau, who are reluctant to believe that all of my children have the same last name. Sigh.

I suppose if I were enterprising, I would market a line of products to cater to the questions endured by extra-large families.  Perhaps I could sell t-shirts with the following slogans:

“Not a daycare.”

“Yes, they’re mine.”

“Same father.”

“My hands are full.  Full of blessings from Christ.”

But let’s face it.  Who would buy these products?  As my little guy one day realized – being a seventh child is a very rare thing.

Indeed, people notice my large family and my overflowing shopping cart, whom I do not myself notice.  One day while shopping unaccompanied, I headed in to the grocery store with an empty cart. The door opened and out came an elderly woman pushing her groceries.  She looked at me and said bluntly, “Going to buy out the store again, huh?”  What?! I had never seen this woman before in my  life, but she had seen me.  So while part of me would love to be armed with witty and cutting responses to the weekly FAQ, I realize that I can instead have a positive effect.  I have said it before and I will say it again:  One of the strongest pro-life statements I can make is to go to the grocery store with my hair combed and a smile on my face.

Now do you want to know about questions endured by a “grand multiparous woman” when pregnant? That would be another post altogether.

 

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