An acquaintance came to my house to drop something off that he had borrowed. It was just the kids and myself at home.
Man: "Whats this?" pointing to my pregnant stomach
Me: "Number Seven" desperately hoping that my kids would start yelling blue murder like they usually do whenever I am talking to someone"
Man: Oh yeah. I thought that this wee lad was going to be your lucky last?
Me: No, we never said that. Our children are lots of fun and we love having them.
Man: Was this one an accident?
Me: Not really, they are never an accident.
Man: Are you going to have enough room in the house?
Me: Yup we all fit in perfectly fine.
Man: Are you ever going to stop?
Me: Don't know - at some stage. We love having kids!
While reading the above conversation, it may not seem so bad but what I can't relay to you is his body language, facial expression and tone of voice. This man clearly wasn't convinced that anyone having seven kids was a great idea and that is fine, I don't have a problem with that. But he was openly disapproving and that made me feel very uncomfortable. If the ground would of opened up then and there I would of quite happily fallen in. I also think he was highly inappropriate even having this conversation with me but I am a little old-fashioned like that.
Standing in the check-out line at the local supermarket. The checkout lady knows my kids and knows that they are home schooled. They were all waiting for me on the other side of the check out. There is a lady in front of me as I am loading up the conveyor belt with my shopping.
Lady: (to the check out operator) hmph is there no school today or something?
Operator: Yeah, but these kids are home schooled.
Lady: shaking her head Now that is something that should be made illegal. No one should be allowed to do that. Home schooling is the most stupid idea. Putting those kids at a disadvantage, they are going to end up being a drain on society because they will be so dumb they won't be employable. Child abuse that's what it is!
Operator: Oh I don't know about that.
Lady: Of course it is. I knew a family once. Those kids had no clue about anything, couldn't even talk to anyone unless it was their own family. They couldn't even interact with anyone else AND they couldn't read. Its just absolutely ridiculous! Those poor children. shaking her head again.
Now I know I could of said something, perhaps I should of said something but I was dumbfounded. I had never encountered anything like this before. Plus she wasn't actually talking to me - I was eavesdropping. I came away very very upset. Upset at her and upset at myself for not speaking up and defending our decision. On reflection on this I shouldn't have to defend myself to anyone, at least not to some nasty outspoken lady in the supermarket.
These two encounters left me pondering on how we as a society treat others that maybe different or do things differently to us. You are always, always going to have an opinion whether or not you agree with it. That is our freedom and our right. And we are lucky enough that we live in a our country that allows us to make these kinds of decision regarding ourselves and our children. That is also our freedom and our right. But do we have a 'right' to pass judgement so openly, let alone so rudely on others? I don't think we have. Especially when we don't know their story or anything about the facts on which they based their decision on.
(Now I know that you are all intelligent people and already know that I am not talking about peoples decisions that out other people in serious danger. Decisions like letting their 6 year old drive the car down the road or things like that :) )
There are some highly flammable topics out there. Topics that can break friendships and ostracize people out of families, groups and clubs. Topics that include things like home schooling, having or not having children, vaccinating, being an out-to-work Mama or not. Oh the list can be quite long.
I think what saddens me the most is not so much that people aren't accommodating of what others may choose for themselves but is that people can be nasty about it and I mean really nasty. Check out any blog site or Facebook page that dares to put up something different or challenges mainstream thinking! I recently read a article about a lady who decided to stop using shampoo and hadn't done for 5 years! (I don't know how she did it but go her!) And a lot of the comments posted below the article were darn right abusive! Really, its HER hair! She wasn't saying you have to do that too! I suppose the saying "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen" rings quite true. As a rule I don't engage in any online or real life "warfare", not on purpose anyway. Generally if I am asked outright about what I think or what I do I'll say but otherwise I am keeping my mouth shut! But the unfortunate side effect of that is how else are other people going to learn about and be exposed to other options if we are all busy keeping quiet about alternative options out there.
Here is what I think the "Rules" should be when encountering someone that has made different decisions than you.
1) Don't be attacking them - really no one is going to open up and share honestly if you are already attacking them with guns blazing and all!
2) Check your facials and body language - most people can tell what you are thinking about what they are saying by the look on your face and your body language.
3) Ask questions (nicely) - hey you never know might learn something.
4) Know that they aren't attacking you and your decisions. - they are just simply responding to your questions.
5) They aren't the enemy! - Remember that they probably are perfectly nice and normal people and yes you CAN still be friends with them.
6) Don't comment or tell them they are wrong, ESPECIALLY if you...
1. Don't have a relationship with them of any kind - sorry you just don't have that right.
2.You have done no research or know nothing about what they have based their decisions on.
3.You don't know their story or anything about their lives.
Often people react badly or nastily to others decisions and choices if they feel like the decision and choices that they have personally made is being threatened. It scares people when a sliver of doubt creeps in when they are presented with a different option to the one they have made. That's when people get defensive. If you are totally confident and have made an informed decision about the choice you have made then really you have no need to feel threaten or pass judgement on other people. They are just exercising the same right as a person and/or parent in this country as you are. Another thing worth noting here is that 'safety in numbers' is quite applicable here. If you happen to put your baby in a cot to sleep, you would more than likely think twice about getting into an argument about what you believe the so-called perils of bed-sharing/co-sleeping are with a room full of bed-sharing parents....and vice versa.
A friend said to me after talking to her about the lady in the check out line, that even if I did say something to her she more than likely wouldn't of 'heard' what I had to say, felt threatened herself and she probably wouldn't of changed her rigid opinion anyway. So there wasn't really any point. Also I need to extend the same courteous to her as she should of extended to me - I didn't know her story, she could of had a really bad experience being home schooled herself or maybe she had a migraine or...whatever. So I will choose to let her and her vocal opinions go and move on. I am confident in my choice to home school my children and will do my very best to ensure that they do not become a drain on society in anyway! Just like the man in scenario one, he might of come from a dysfunctional and stressed out family, perhaps he didn't have children or wasn't very close to the ones he had...or perhaps he too was grumpy with a migraine. I will too let his lack of manners go and bring up my children the best that I can and again ensure that they will not become a drain on society in anyway!
On a much lighter note....
I thought that I would share these series of photos because I love them so much!
This is Kaitlyn (7) and 'Thor'- our resident rabbit.
Thor has a pretty sweet life as he is a 'free-range' rabbit who spends his days hopping around our yard and in the neighbouring paddock and we put him back into his cage at night away from hawks and wild cats.
We have never lost him and is quite partial to the odd carrot!
Our wee Jesse (1) is tractor mad and I found this beauty online for just $5!
He loves his 'tractor tractor'!
(not that you can tell from the look on his face in this pic)