The oddest question

As a mother, you have to be prepared to answer questions. Everybody seems to want to know one thing or another. Strangers and family members alike want to know everything. Some questions are ok, even predictable, and are things you actually want to talk about. How big was your baby when he was born? C-section or vaginal birth? When did he first start sleeping through the night? Is he on solid foods yet? Some questions are inappropriate, like, do you have milk-let down when you have orgasm these days? (Yes, somebody asked me that.) Some seem ridiculously obvious: Is it a boy or a girl? (She's dressed in all pink, is wearing pantaloons, and has a bow in her hair--does she look like a boy? I have to admit, though, one time I was stumped when the baby's name was Sage and she was dressed in all black. Yes, the parents were from New York!) As the child gets older, the questions change. Is he walking? Is he talking? Does he still nap? Is he in preschool? Some questions are specific to my child. Jacob is very tall for his age, has really gorgeous freakishly long eye-lashes, and white-blonde hair. People thus ask, all the time, "Is your husband tall?" or, "Where did he get those eyelashes", and "Does your husband have blonde hair, too?" I think every kid has something that stands out about them that people ask about, and Jacob's height, hair, and eyelash length just seem to be his. His really, really fair skin gets comments too. Dh was in a video store when a black man said, "That is the whitest baby I've ever seen!" But the other day, I was asked a truly odd question. I was at the museum with Jacob and his playdate for the day (Yes, we go to the museums around here A LOT ok? You gotta problem with that?), and people asked questions like, "Are they brothers, twins?" That's a normal question--they are, after all, two boys that are basically the same age and both have blonde hair and blue eyes. But when I answered one woman with, "No, they're just friends. This one is mine," pointing to Jacob, she said, "And do you color his hair to lighten it up so much?" Um, no, I do not chemically alter the state of my 3 year old son's hair, thank you very much. It seems she could have deduced that from the fact that I myself have light blonde hair, and I had already identified myself as this child's mother, but I guess that was too difficult a leap for her to make. I dunno. Of all the questions I've been asked over the years as a mother, this one was the weirdest. Anyone else have weird stranger question stories?


Blogger Kaimi said...

Awesome, Heather. I want to know what you said when they asked about milk and orgasm. I hope that it was appropriately smart-ass and MYOB in nature. Such as:

"Orgasm? What's that?"

or perhaps

"Yes and no. It usually happens for the first, second, and third orgasm of the night, but not for the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh. For some reason, we're having trouble getting past seven lately. How about you?"


"It's hard to tell, what with the handcuffs and blindfolds."

Anyway, back to your point -- we usually get nasty parenting advice. "That boy needs a jacket." Or the neo-Malthusian wackos -- "You're overpopulating the planet!"

I discussed these with Mardell. When people say "that boy needs a jacket" she responds "he's being punished." It works well, generating a shocked look.

We haven't run into any neo-Malthusians since moving away from Columbia. But Mardell has decided that if she runs into them again and they give her hell about the number of kids, she's going to say "I'm just raising them to be a food source."

6/17/2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Liesl said...

thanks for the laugh Kaimi

6/17/2005 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

I have one intersting stranger story. I was out shopping with a friend for some things for her son's nursery. I was pregnant at the time, and her son (2 mos. old) was not with us. We got talking with a man at the store, who I thought was confused due to his poor English, because he kept asking me things about my (still in-utero) baby as we were talking about the room we were decorating. It wasn't until after we left the store that I realized he thought we were a lesbian couple decorating the room for our soon-to-be-born baby. Oops!

6/17/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

My husband is very hispanic and I am um...very white. When our first son was born, he definitely had my husband's features - although he looks more like me now. I was strolling him around our New York neighborhood one day when a stranger comes up to me and asks me if I am the baby's nanny. It really caught me off guard....

6/17/2005 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous AudreyStone said...

A little background: My two year old son (in all humility, really) is a very beautiful boy. He has blond naturally curly hair, big blue eyes, dimples, and loves to laugh. In looks, he is 90% my husband, 10% me, and the only proof I have of being his mother is that he has my nose--I think. Another piece of information, my father-in-law is from Argentina, though he is of European descent, so my husband is a full caucasian and so am I.

The story: I was visiting teaching a less-active sister in the ward who is hispanic, and I had to bring along my son. She was asking about our background and in the course of conversation I mentioned my husband's father being from Argentina. She said, "Oh, that makes sense, your son is so handsome, you can tell that he has must have some foreign blood in him, he doesn't look like a typical American boy."

6/17/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

I have a redhead and he generates a lot of comments. He hates his hair, too. I can't remember anything specific right now, though. His cousin is also a bright redhead, and once someone said to him, "Where'd you get that red hair?" and he said, "From GOD!"

Long eyelashes run in my family--so much so that if anyone had a child without them, we'd question it's parentage--so my kids get the long eyelashes comments all the time. Even I, who as a child had a teenager pull on my eyelashes to verify that they were real, will marvel at my kids' eyelashes. They really stand out on my boys, because they buzz their hair so short. I swear it seems like my oldest could knock you down with his if he blinked.

6/17/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

Oh, I didn't mention how hysterical it is that the woman thought you dyed Jacob's hair. I can't even imagine someone doing that?!?! Okay, maybe if you were going for a purple mohawk or something like that....

6/17/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

My oldest is a redhead, too, and gets lots of comments, and she also hates her hair. Actually, it's not the hair she hates but the attention it generates. She'd like nothing else than to be a nondescript blonde or brunette.

The weirdest thing for us was when we were in Ann Arbor over Christmas when our oldest was an infant. We were carrying her around the mall in a Snugli, and were approached by a group of Japanese tourists wanting to take a picture of our baby. That was a bit odd. It got really weird when it happened two more times that same afternoon.

Other oddity about my oldest. She started talking around 10 1/2 months old. One night we were in Borders and she said "Hi" to a complete stranger, who stopped, shocked and asked how old my oldest was. When I told her, she said, "Have you had her tested? She's got to be a genius!"

6/17/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


I had some Japanese tourists take a picture of Jacob, too. I thought it was bizarre, but since they didn't speak English, at least they didn't ask me any weird questions!


Usually I don't really get into how many orgasms I have every night. It makes other women jealous :)

6/17/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Well, if it makes you guys feel any better, I've seen Japanese tourists stop on the side of the road to take pictures of a cow in a field.

6/17/2005 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous DH said...

Heather: Stop. Stop now. You know what I am talking about.

6/17/2005 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mardell said...

I live by the rule that stupid questions deserve stupid answers.

6/17/2005 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Regularly dying my child's hair.... said...

Heather -

"Milk -let down when you have orgasm these days"

Blatant phrase used to generate traffic to your blog. For shame. :)

Unless, of course,if you want weird porno searchers to hit the blog......

6/17/2005 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Susan M

6/17/2005 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

What is DH talking about?

6/17/2005 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

I've been accused of having my middle daughter's hair highlighted several times, beginning when she was two years old. It's because the front part of her hair has gold streaks in it, just like my husband used to have back when he used to see the sun once in awhile (he now lives in an interior office with no window).

I've been chewed out by a random woman in Walmart for not putting a sweater on my baby in 75-degree weather ("That JUST AIN'T RIGHT," she kept saying), by a random African woman in Target for going on a late-night diaper run with a five-day-old baby and a two-year-old("Where is your mother? How old is that baby? Where is your husband? Why is no one taking care of you?") and by an officious grandmother visiting her granddaughter's dance class on on observation day for putting my baby boys knit cap over his ears (she kept folding it up for me to "let his ears breathe.").

I admit that on the first two of those occasions I cried instead of politely telling them to mind their own business. I blame postpartum blues for my lack of a spine.

6/17/2005 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heather, DH, a wise woman once told me "You gotta ride that horse till it's dead." Best advice ever.

6/17/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous wbpraw said...

My adult brother-in-law, after watching my 2 year old carry out some instruction I gave him, actually asked, "Does he actually understand English?"

I did not even know how to respond to that.

6/17/2005 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

I would have said, "No."

6/17/2005 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


Wow. What a lame question.

6/17/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Susan M-

DH is talking about encouraging Kaimi by responding to the orgasm comment, for fear that it lead to revealing something specific. DH doesn't like revealing specifics. He thinks that goes WAY over the "Ewww" line.

6/17/2005 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous claire said...

I'm currently about 5.5 months pregnant and am constantly asked what is apparently the most common question ..... "Do you know what it is???" I have to admit I'm getting REALLY SICK OF IT, so I've taken to saying things like, "The ultrasound tech was 99.9 percent sure it's human." Sometimes I follow that up with, "but we're still hoping for platypus" or other such nonsense. It seems to shut people up.

6/18/2005 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

If you want to digress into just plain weird stories, when I was very pregnant with my second child, and at a party in West Virginia, I had a honest-to-goodness Appalachian medicine man bless my baby. Acutally, it was quite disturbing having a complete stranger put his hands on my belly and start muttering. Part of me wishes I could remember what he said. But all I remember thinking is "I have to pee NOW."

I've had someone mistake me for my children's nanny before, too, but I took that as a compliment.

6/18/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger the special one said...

I've never really been asked a stupid quiestion, though after my son was born I was at church and a sister walked up to me and said really loud, "well there's no doubting who his father is" my son at that time looked like a little replica of his dad. I wish I had had a smart response but I was a little shocked at the comment.

6/18/2005 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous ESO said...

My husband is African and I am not, so I am sure many people don't realize that I am related to my daughter--I have been asked the nanny question MANY times.

We live in upstate NY and last March (still winter for us), when daughter was 6 months old, the checkout girl at the grocery store first exclaimed that my daughter had "crazy" hair--not such a safe remark when made accross races--and then, maybe to make me feel better, said "She is so tan!"

Right, we have a regular tanning appointment every Thursday. Until 3 months, we just mystic tanned, but she loves the warmth of the beds now, so....

6/18/2005 10:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Haha. I wonder if that cashier realized later that your baby must be half-black and felt really stupid. I probably just would've told her and watched her feel stupid in front of me.

6/19/2005 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

When my daughter was two and we were at the library waiting to check out books, she got impatient and hit me on the leg. The lady standing in line behind said, "Do you spank your daughter? That's where kids learn how to hit. You shouldn't spank kids."

I didn't know what to say, it was so inane. Aparently she's never been the mother of a two-year-old.

6/19/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa M. said...

Okay, so this isn't the oddest question ...but the ...dumbest things people say?! *Chuckle*

While waiting for church to start one Sunday morning, I was discussing with a friend, potty training. Since we both have handicapped children it is a somewhat greater challenge (not diminishing the effort for a healthy child) Her daughter is 8 now, and congnitivly about 16 months. She said to me "I don't know, Lis it is just getting harder and harder, I just don't think she will ever get the hang of it" Before I could reasurringly respond, a gal who was very familiar with the child in question leaned forward over the back of our pew and said, "OH surely you can potty train her, why even my dogs are potty trained"

I have often wondered if people think before they speak.

Since having a handicapped child is a new experience for me, I have wondered... how many STUPID things I have said to people.


I have also decided, I am a LOT more emotional than I used to be.

When my daughter was 6 months old, (years and years ago) she had terrible reflux though at the time, they didn't call it that. She literally didn't keep anything down. So while shopping (or any other time) I usually kept her slung over my arm. I was at a craft store once, and a lady grabbed her head and said "OHHHHHH where did you get this glass doll, I want one just like it"

6/20/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Oh, you guys. When you have kids a different color than you, it just multiplies.

My older son wore off a band of hair around the sides and backof hsi head when he was a baby, leaving him looking like a physical and color negative of Krusty the Clown. People asked me all the time if I shaved it on purpose. How mean do I look??? I was only leaving it that way because my black neighbors insisted that I really should not cut his hair before his first birthday and I was not yet really confident in my own decision-making ability as a parent.

One time a black man asked me if I was "makin' babies with Karl Malone." That was one to remember. Kind of flattering, actually, seeing as how most sports stars seem to hang around only with extremely beautiful and glamorous women.

6/23/2005 06:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I are both dark brunnettes, and our 2 year old daughter is quite blonde. People frequently ask "Where does that blonde hair come from?", and it always seems like they are insinuating that I was unfaithful to my husband. I haven't come up with any good answers--no other blondes in the family. I hate that I automatically feel guilty when I shouldn't.

6/24/2005 10:10:00 PM  

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