“Make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business.”
– 1 Thess. 4: 11
Some questions and comments I get about my children while out-and-about are obviously an attempt to make conversation.
“Are they all yours?“, “Are they homeschooled?“, for example. Those don’t bother me at all. Often they lead to a nice chit chat. Sometimes older people will remark that large families were once common, or they’ll tell me they came from a large sibling group. Or they’ll say that they think homeschooling is wonderful, or whatever.
Other times, the tone and body language of the speaker let me know that their comment is a thinly veiled criticism.
The other day while on vacation, we ran to a store to get the baby a new pair of shoes. A woman in line behind us, visibly irritated at the horrible injustice of having to wait while we completed our transaction, said: “Why aren’t those kids in school?”
Cue hot, tired, nauseated pregnant lady. You really don’t want to mess with me.
“Oh, they’re in school“, I replied coolly, quickly turning my back to her. I felt no need to make any explanations. After all, it was none of her business what my children were doing.
In situations like this, I ask myself whether it would be socially appropriate to ask a similar question to the adult. If it’s clearly rude to ask the same question of an adult, then that clues me in to the fact that this person views children as second class citizens, as property that is collectively owned. Which really, really ticks me off.
“Why aren’t you at work?”
“Why aren’t you at the gym?”
“Why aren’t you at finishing school?” (Where, ostensibly, you would learn some manners and class that your mother obviously didn’t teach you.)
The question implies fault. Those children SHOULD be in school, therefore I, as a perfect stranger with absolutely no investment in their well-being, have the right to question you.
Lady, don’t should on my children.
As we got back in the car, I realized what I should have said. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll keep this one in my pocket for the next nosy busybody.
“School? Hahaha. Oh nononononono. School is a very recent experiment that is failing horribly, invented by communists who wanted to create a barely-educated populace of obedient factory workers who would never question the status quo. It also supports a socially unnatural environment with conditions ripe for sexual assault and violence. School. Perish the thought!”
What do you say when someone asks inappropriate questions about your kids?