Tag Archives: rude things people say

Taking a Stand For What You Believe In

Time magazine - Use the media for your cause

I keep getting asked this question:

“Do you think using the media is good way to spread an important message?”

I absolutely do! There are some things worth mentioning before jumping into something as crazy as a potential media firestorm, though.

 

MAKE SURE THE DECISION IS UNANIMOUS.

Your entire family needs to be on-board. You are a unit, make important decisions as one. A media firestorm will effect every member of your family, so you’ll all need to be prepared.

 

DO NOT TAKE MONEY.

If your passion happens to be your job, that is one thing. If you, independent of employment, choose to make a big statement through the media about a cause you believe in, it should be done for free. That includes follow-up interviews.

 

BE READY FOR ATTACK.

Even if your message is portrayed beautifully, some people will still hate it. It would be naive to think otherwise. (Remember: you aren’t doing this to make friends.)

 

YOU HAVE NO CONTROL.

You will be taking a (hopefully, educated) risk. If the publicity is coming from well-known popular sources, you will not be given creative control. You will reach more people, but even the most discerning person cannot predict what the final editors will produce.  With that being said, even if it is not portrayed well, keep in mind your reasons for participating; good inevitably will come from your work. The Time cover shot was by no means offensive, but the cover as a whole was not the message we wanted to convey. However, many other magazines came out with their own versions of the cover. Those covers would have never been created and released if it weren’t for the less-than-desirable cover that hit such a nerve with the public.

 

YOU WILL HAVE SUPPORTERS.

we can do it - use the media for your cause

No matter how the media swings it, there will be discerning people that understand the message and cause.  They will rally to help spread the message. Bask in this small victory to help fuel your resolve.

 

YOU WILL HAVE “FRIENDS” COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK.

If it gets big enough, this will inevitably happen. For me, I knew exactly who my friends were before going into the media battlefield. They (not surprisingly) ended up being exactly who I thought they were (loyal, loving, supporting, encouraging… etc.)

However, some people will try to connect themselves with you through association. There were people I’ve never had any communication with before who claimed to have a personal connection with me to help publicize their own agenda (business, blog, website). A lot of untruths were written, but the people were giving more clout because they claimed to be a friend or colleague.

Bottom line: people will try to make money off of you from every angle imaginable.

 

OUR SOCIETY HAS THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A GOLDFISH.

No matter how crazy it gets, just know that people will forget about you, but they won’t forget about the issues you’ve brought up.

 

YOU ARE TOUGHER THAN YOU THINK.

I keep hearing, “you are so brave” or “you are really tough.” Well, most people are. This is not unique to a small percentage of the population. Our culture uses fear as the the opiate for the masses, to keep us all in our little undisturbed boxes. The first day or two, I was scared for fear of the unknown. When it got to the height of the coverage and negativity (and if you didn’t notice, it was exceptionally covered in negative way) I remember thinking, “This is it?” Negative media attention is not scary, it is silly.

Do not be afraid of people saying negative things about you. Society wants us to believe it is the worst thing that can happen, but 1. It is easily manageable 2. Our world needs change, and it won’t happen if we don’t rock the boat.

 

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.

It is impossible for someone to personally attack you if they don’t know you. They may think they know you, but really they are responding with their own filters to an image/thought they have confused for a human being.

Below are some examples of why getting judged from strangers is no big deal, and why fear of it should not stop you from continuing on with your message.I haven’t googled or looked anything up about myself since the cover came out. However, my friends definitely keep me informed about the most amusing and bogus of claims…

Or as I’d like to call it…

 

Stupid S*** Strangers Have Said About Me:

(I won’t even go into the weird stuff they said about Brian or the boys….)

  • I’m Native American. Great!…Well, except I’m not. I do love the movie Dances With Wolves, does that count for something?  My sister has American Indian Princess Syndrome (being Scandinavian, Sudanese, Armenian, and Romanian isn’t interesting enough, I guess). She was pretty excited to  hear she was Native American by rumor and relation.
  • I’m a model. At 5’3.75” (those three-quarters are important to me) and my husband will back me up on this, not a bit photogenic. I should be delighted by the confusion, but this misinformation was used for strange malicious rants.
    Jamie using the media for her cause

    Yes, I understand why it is so easy to mistake this hot little number for a professional model. Not their fault.

  • I’m really in my early 30s.  As if being mistaken for that prime age was supposed to be an insult?
  • My blog was named “I am Not the Babysitter” because it is proud statement against babysitters and any sort of childcare.Sure…it has nothing to do with the fact that I am the size and shape of a prepubescent 12 year old girl and my children, physically, do not match me. Oh, and that it clearly states on my blog that I am chronically confused for the babysitter. No, that makes too much sense.

    This must be what people see when they meet us for the first time. This band of weirdos is surprisingly a family.

Katherine Dettwyler pointed out a great scientific fact to me after the release of the cover and I will share her insightful and articulate words with you: “People are idiots…Don’t listen to them.”

Don’t stop fighting for something you believe in because of others. Some people are just morons and really don’t have anything better to do than make up stories about people they don’t know.

What Not To Say To Adoptive Parents

Conversation about adoption can be tricky.  A seemingly benign comment can cause an adoptive parent to lash out in protection of their family.

I’ve received many emails from people quite upset. They are experiencing negativity from friends or acquaintances when asking about adoption.

The questions themselves are harmless. However, the terms used are offensive.

I find this whole situation frustrating, and I get a bit disappointed in my fellow adoptive parents. We have all had a friend or stranger ask a question about adoption that makes us cringe. Be that as it may, most of us know the intended meaning, understand the person is not being malicious, and clearly not educated in adoption (that is why they are asking the question to begin with.)

That is why I think it never okay to be angry with someone wanting to understand our lives a bit better. Educating people in a compassionate manner is the best way to get people to listen to what you are saying, and also draws our community closer through understanding.

I’ve had adoptive parents tell me that it isn’t their job to educate strangers – people should mind their own business. I have to agree there is some truth to this. However, all someone is doing when giving a short aggravated response is allowing the recipient to remain ignorant, while also implanting a seed of negativity on the topic of adoption.

If you have been the one attacked by an adoptive parent – I’m sorry.

I would like to address three politically incorrect questions adoptive parents are asked, and explain why some terminology is offensive

What Not To Say To Adoptive Parents:

 1. “Do you have/want any of your own children?”
This is generally a question asked when people want to know if the family is also made up of biological children, in addition to the adoptive child(ren).
Why it is offensive-
Biological and adoptive children are both equally the parents’ “own.” Also, a lot of parents find the question irrelevant. What difference does it make if the mother gestated some of her children and not others?
What you should say-
Obviously, replace “own” with “biological,”  but take caution with this question, in general.
I would only ask this if you are close with the adoptive parents, and are both equally as comfortable and open sharing personal information. The benefit of this information should be to learn about each other’s histories, as all friends do- not for the sake of curiosity.
2. “Where is his real mother/father?”
A question asked about the biological family to find out why the child was placed for adoption.
Why it is offensive -
To begin with, the use of “real mother/father” is implying that the adoptive parents are lesser than the biological family (if they are real, does that make us the fake parents?)
Additionally, that is a very personal question. I am sure there is concern in some circumstances, but for the most part this question comes across as self-gratifying curiosity bordering on gossip.
What to ask-
Don’t ask this question.
Only if you are close (and I mean close) friends or family would it ever be appropriate. If you are close with the family and want to ask this question, make sure “real” is replaced with “biological.”  However, you may still not get an answer. The family may have decided that information will not be given out, unless the child wants to share the story himself.  And that should be respected.
3.  “She is so lucky”
This is less of a question, and more of an attempted positive statement to the adoptive family. Some people do not know how to bring up their interest or positive feelings about adoption, and this is their way of bringing it up in conversation- Ironically, in an attempt to not offend people.
Why it is offensive-
 It gives the impression that the country or the family the child was born into is inferior in contrast to the country or family they are now a part of. Many adoptive parents feel they are the lucky ones, not their children- who have endured loss and trauma at a very young age.
Another thing, adoptive parents in some cases are treated like saints for adopting. Adoptive parents want to add a new family member to their existing family, period. No saving is involved in their thought process. They do not want to be considered better than biological parents, they want to be looked at as a normal family.
What to say instead-
  Stick with comments that would work with both biological and adoptive families (and only if you really mean it):
“You are a wonderful parent,” “Your children are blessed to have you.” “You are blessed.” “Your family is beautiful.”  Or, if you are trying to segue a conversation into adoption, you could just be frank and say something like, “I am interested in learning more about adoption. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions sometime?” Most people in the adoptive community are very open to explaining their trials and triumphs in the adoption process.

 

Guest Post-I, Too, Am Not the Babysitter.

I, too, am not the babysitter.

Most teenagers aspire to look older.  After all, there are advantages to looking older at that point in life.  Then, sometime in their 20s or 30s, many young adults begin to purposely reverse the signs of aging.  I have yet to reach that point.


Ageism is a form of discrimination I have encountered throughout most of my adult life.  From being asked what grade I was in by another teacher at a conference (she “apologized” by admitting to me that she thought I was one of the student volunteers), to being asked by a real estate agent if I was looking for a home for my mom and dad, I have lost track of the amount of times I have been treated with condescendence at what others perceive to be youth and inexperience.  Pregnancy and motherhood have not been the exception.

One of the most annoying things about looking 16 and pregnant (and being twice that age) is that strangers will say and do the rudest things.  I started noticing that along with the “Is this your first?” comment which many enceinte women get, I would also receive a not-so-discreet glance toward the ring finger on my left hand.  They wanted to make sure that I had not gotten myself into a situation of sorts, often adding, “Was this a surprise?”  I did not feel like going into detail about my personal life with an absolute stranger* (*more on this major topic later), so often I would reply “No, we waited until we were financially stable and had established careers until we tried”.  That bit of information would do one of a few things:  shut the person up, leave them dumbfounded, or prompt them to continue their interrogation.

I was a classroom teacher until my first son was born.  When I entered what I’ve termed my “permanent sabbatical”, I relished in wearing very relaxed attire.  My mommy wardrobe consists of graphic tees, jeans or cargo khakis, and a perpetual ponytail.  I remember when I took him to an event for a nonprofit organization for which I have volunteered for nearly a decade, that I engaged in conversation with a man who must have been around my age.  We spoke about how we each were involved or knew about said organization, and about 2 minutes into the conversation he asks me, “So, whose baby is this?”  When I told him that he was my son, his eyes became quite large, and he stammered, “Wow, you’re a mom! You’re so…I mean…you don’t look like you just had a baby…” Followed by the obligatory glance towards my left hand.

My oldest son looks nothing like me.  Although his skin has hints of my olive complexion, he was very light hair.  I speak to him exclusively in Spanish.  These factors, along with others’ assumptions of my perceived age, have presented quite a problem for me.

As a newly-stay-at-home mom, I ventured out to places where other moms (I thought) hung out.  As I sat on the edge of the sandbox at the park, narrating for my son, I’d have other moms ask me, in a tone much too elevated, enunciated, and slow, “How ooold isss heee?”  Once when I responded, a mom actually stated, “Oh, you speak English very well”.  What a strange thing to say to somebody who was born in this country, has a Master’s degree, and is a former English teacher.  As a result, I found myself going out of my way to make it clear to others that I was Alastair’s mum.  I began buying outfits for him in colors that matched pieces in my wardrobe, and we would go places dressed like twins.  Unfortunately, that didn’t do the trick.  At an outing, as a gentleman watched my mini-me play with his son, the first thing he says to me is “He’s really attached to you.  So, what’s the going rate for a babysitter these days?”  What an odd icebreaker.  My curt reply:  “I wouldn’t know, we’ve never had to hire one.”

When I was pregnant the second time around, one of the common follow-up questions to the obligatory, when, what kind of baby, etc. was, “So, was this planned?”  People can be so intrusive.

Now that I have the twins, outings with all three present strangers with opportunities to blurt out some of the strangest comments.  The ones that fish for whether they belong to me usually blatantly ask,  “Are they all yours?” Other folk try to be slick about their information-gathering, and will ask very random questions such as “So, are you in school?” or  “Do you do this full-time?”  Since my patience with the curiosity of others has waned with the increasing number of crying babies in my possession, I have now made it a point to make the other person feel very, very stupid in their assumption that I am my children’s nanny.  Though I have to say, I am getting more comments pertaining to twin parenting, such as questions regarding how many the doctor implanted (for the record, we did not do IVF), and less about my authenticity as their parent.  I guess maybe they think nobody in their right mind would take a job looking after 3 kids under the age of 3, unless they had a personal vested interest in their lives.

Back to when I only had one:  I remember a trip to a store, where the sales clerk asked me, in Spanish, how old the baby was.  I responded, and she followed with “Is he yours?”  I’m not sure how many other moms get asked that question, but I replied that he was indeed mine.  Only this time, I added, “Why do you ask?” and she stated that it was because she thought I was so young.  I told her I was 32.  She said he was so cute.  She then paired this with “He must look just like his father”.  So, basically she said my son was adorable and in the same breath that he looked nothing like me.  I replied that he actually looks just like my dad (which he does), which leads me to my next point…

Not every child has a father.  Mine don’t.  In fact, they have two moms.  Yep.  Three boys, 2 moms, a bird, and a dog.  That’s our family.  Carmen and I met while we were both educators.  She is 3 years older than me, and I often joke about our “significant” age difference.  Not too long after we started dating, strangers began to make an assumption about our relationship.  A girl at a makeup counter stated that I had a very young mom.  I told her that actually, my mom is in her 70s.  She seemed confused, as did I.  The man we hired to paint our brand-new home made the same assumption.  So did the acupuncturist Carmen went to go see a few weeks ago when she threw out her back from holding the twins.  What’s funny about that, though, is while I was filling out Carmen’s paperwork in the office, I thought I heard the acupuncturist ask me if I was her doctor (English is not her native language).  I told her that no, I’m not an M.D., but I do know quite a bit about medicine.  She looked confused.  I clarified that I was her spouse, and Carmen added that we’re the same age.  I then understood what she had originally said.

Perhaps the most infuriating case of this assumption for us was when we were expecting our first.  We enrolled in every possible pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childcare class available at our hospital.  Carmen and I, as I previously mentioned, are both educators and lifelong learners, and so we tend to sit at the very front and ask pertinent questions.  The instructor of our childcare class was talking about baby powder, and how it’s something that most parents no longer use.  She then said that it was “Something”, (and she asked Carmen to cover her ears), “That grandmothers tell you you should use”.  Our jaws dropped, we looked at each other, and Carmen whispered, “Oh, my God, does she think I’m your mother?”  For the first time ever, the anger really struck.  Did she think this because I look so young?  How young can I possibly look for people repeatedly to believe that my wife, who is older by only 3 years, could possibly be my mom?  Or was it because we’re both Hispanic, and this woman assumed that here I was, an unmarried teenager who had to have my mom accompany me because who knows where my baby’s daddy might be?  We were the only-same sex couple in the room.  Interestingly, also the only Hispanic pair.

When each of us has been alone with our oldest, we have encountered the nanny assumption.  Carmen has been asked, point-blank, how long she has looked after him.  Her response:  “Since birth.  I am his mother”.  When we’re together will all three boys, the assumptions run rampant.  Either I’m the babysitter or the auntie, or Carmen’s the grandmother or the “help” (when a woman exclaimed recently in reaction to our family that she could hardly manage having one child of her own, and I responded that it actually wasn’t too bad having three, she remarked ‘That’s because you have help’—and motioned to Carmen, who thankfully did not hear this comment!).  The alternate possibilities to our actual reality are seemingly endless in the minds of others!  Here’s how it usually happens: A stranger will ask if the youngest are twins, which leads to a question about their sex, which inevitably leads one of us to say that indeed all three are boys.  Then, the golden question:  Which one of you is the mother?  When we have responded that we both are, here are the reactions to this statement:

What do you mean?
Oh, that’s…nice (said in a confused manner)
<SILENCE> <stunned expression>
Well, I mean, which of you is the real mother?

This last question deeply irks us both.  Do they mean to ask who is the biological mother?  Or who carried them?  And most importantly, WHY DOES IT MATTER TO THEM?!?!  We are legally married.  We are both on their birth certificates.  End of story.

As a same-sex couple, the assumption that our children have a mom and a dad does not bother us too much, as that is the norm for most families.  It is the resulting questions once a person finds out that our kids have two moms that we find are not only personal and intrusive, but also downright impolite.  These questions range from who we used as our donor (that is the term we use exclusively, and we establish the term, especially when people ask if all three have the same dad), to how the child was conceived, etc.  We don’t make it a point to ask intrusive questions of other couples (Think: What position were you doing it in when you got knocked up?), so I’m not sure why people think it is acceptable to ask intimate questions about our family.

While we live in what’s considered a cosmopolitan metropolis, I am taken aback by the sheer ignorance and blatant disrespect I have received from others.  Anyone who has taken an intro to biology class certainly understands the essentials of genetics, and how a child is not always a mirror image of the parent.  So why do people assume?  Why do they think that because I have a young appearance that automatically I am a caretaker?  Is it because I speak a language in addition to English?  Or because my son is fairer than I am?  I’ll never know what goes through someone’s head and eventually makes it out of their mouths like a runaway train, but I know I have reached a point where I am now armed with an arsenal of responses, and can finally walk away without feeling humiliated and belittled as I once did.

To All the People That Write Me Hate Mail

Dear People Who Write Me Hate Mail,

 

Thanks for entertaining me. I will never respond privately, but I appreciate you guys.

So, here is a special post dedicated to you:

To the breastfeeding haters-

I have no idea why you’re writing me telling me you’re happy with your bottle feeding choice. That is great. I’m happy for you. I don’t want people to judge me for breastfeeding and I don’t want people to judge you. We’re on the same team.

To the people that claim to be anti-adoption-

Thank you for spending your time writing to someone who already adopted, giving them absolutely no useful advice, but just to vent and tell them how much you hate adoption. I hope it is therapeutic for you. (P.S. my online psychiatry fee is per word)

To the people who have their children in public school-

I would really like to know what I’ve said that gave you the impression that conventional school is wrong. No, I do not think you are an “evil neglectful mother” as you’ve mentioned. Most of my friends’ kids are in a conventional schooling system, and that is exactly what is right for their family.  We are doing what is right for ours.  So please, just stop.

Stop at least until my kids are 45, unmarried, and living as Klingons. Then you can say, “I told you so.” Until then, zip it.

To all the racist people that write to me-

I have a particular finger I’d like to show you….

 

Sincerely,

Me

Homeschooling

So, I have a rant…..

Lately, when I meet other mothers at the park the conversation about schooling will come up. I explain my kids will be home schooled, which immediately sparks some strange conversation.

If someone wants to ask me questions about homeschooling, I don’t mind at all. Questions seem to range from socialization to college preparation. Lately, the main conversation I’ve been having with strangers tends to lead with them pushing me towards conventional schooling (it seems to happen most often if their kids go to the same school mine would be attending). It would be one thing if they are just trying to be friendly, but they seem generally annoyed that I wouldn’t put my children in “their” school.  I’ve have a few mothers say things like, “Well, that is a lot of work- I’m sure you’ll change your mind.” …Seriously?

I have to say, I’m a bit annoyed. They will go on and on until I finally have to say to them: 1. we travel A LOT and it wouldn’t be fair to the school or my children to allow them to attend a conventional school only to get behind in their schoolwork. 2. I was part of an independent study program and it helped me go at my own pace. I was also able to finish my first two years of college in high school.

My main complaint is I shouldn’t have to defend my family’s choices to strangers. I am all for education and whatever works for the family and the children. Trying to convince me of what is best for my children when I’ve spoken to them for maybe five minutes is extremely rude. I personally couldn’t imagine trying to coerce a conventional schooling family to home school.

To the Annoying Lady at the Park

Dear Annoying Lady at the Park,

I do not normally have opinions of other mothers at the park. However, you are the exception.

I overheard you referring to me as the nanny, and while that was not annoying, I did see how you treated me much different than the other mothers at the park.

I also did not appreciate you letting your screaming daughter walk right in front of my children while they were swinging at the park. I did not like that you did not apologize as I threw my entire body weight into pulling the swing back so it would avoid hitting her. Even though you were standing next to her- you let me do all the work.

I did not realize at the time, but you were letting her do that on purpose so you could try to get on our swings.

I did not appreciate you speaking to your daughter about how we were almost done so loud it was clearly for my/your benefit.

Nor, did I appreciate you letting your daughter scream down my neck as you stood uncomfortably close to me to try and make me remove my children from the swings.

I wanted to let you know I let the boys stay on the swings about ten times longer than I normally would have, because of you. I waited until you finally got angry and moved and I noticed another normal mother at an appropriate distance waiting for a swing with her daughter.

-The Nanny

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