Yesterday, as I was writing this post in my head, I was thinking there were only two me’s. The cute, off-beat, wacky, funny, cheerful me that you all see. And the fly-off-the-handle screaming lunatic mommy me I share only with my dear family. My friend Quint nailed it. He said to me once (and only once), "The flip side of this funny, energetic, perky person is a sight to behold, I’m sure." Oh so true. I’m trying to level my playing field, but I’m just not ready to give up all my me’s.
Like romantic wifey me. Back-seat driver me. Daughter me. Sober me. Wise me (it could happen). All-business me: REALTOR® me. Waitress me. Receptionist me.
Then there are the combinations: sometimes two me’s combined, acting in tandem. And sometimes – and these are the ones I hate – one showing outside while one is reacting inside. The inside/outside ones are confusing and unpleasant, two-faced and disruptive. I’d like to merge these into the real me of my choosing, put them to rest.
One of the inside/outside me’s took over my body recently during a dinner party when I was asked one of the questions I am all too often asked.
We are adoptive parents. We adopted bi-racial children. I guess since these are obvious facts, everyone – perfect strangers, close friends, acquaintances – assume they have the right to ask any and all questions that come to mind before considering how NOYB a question like this might be. Like I had the nerve to adopt children of color, I should expect personal questions. Questions like (and this list is far from exhaustive):
"How much did they cost?"
"What are they?"
"Are they brothers?"
"Where did they come from?"
And let’s not forget the ever popular politically correct: "What nationality are they?" Classier than "What are they?" but along the same lines. What the questioner really wants to know, of course, is what RACE they are. Why are they the color they are. But asking about a person’s color is not politically correct. If you ask about a person’s color, that implies color is important to you.
When I am asked nationality, I have a good answer, spoken in good ol’ boy: "They’re ‘meruhcan." That IS their nationality… the answer leaves the questioner baffled and embarrassed. Because they know I know what they really wanted to know and they are left with accepting my answer or saying the R word.
For all the questions, here’s a clue and what I’d LIKE to answer: "You FUCKING DON’T have the right to ask. It’s none of your business. Just your idle flippin’ curiosity so you can put my kid in a box with a label. Make him palatable to you. What difference does it make to you? And WHY DO YOU ASK????"
Tragically, I’ve been brought up to be polite. At times like the above, Polite Me appears on the outside. So while the maniac inside is screaming, "You fucking don’t," Polite Me is smiling and answering your questions quickly and briefly. My insides do one thing, my outsides another. I HATE THAT AS MUCH AS I HATE THE QUESTIONS. My answering the questions when I think it is wrong to ask is not fair to my kids and not fair to our family.
Here’s the thing: I know people are curious. I’ve asked inappropriate questions without thinking them through myself. I know those questions are not meant to be malicious or harmful. Often, they actually come from love and wanting to know us, admiring adoption. But those questions are harmful, particularly in a group (oh yes) and sometimes in front of the kids (although less and less). We are not objects in a box to be poked. Not a science or sociology project. These boys are my babies. Huge, hungry, sarcastic babies (wonder where they get that?) But as much my babies as if I gave birth to them. Remember that next time you want to ask a parent something about their slightly different kid. I mean, nobody asks me what my nationality is.
So that’s my story. Being offended by the questions, yet not wanting to embarrass the asker when the question is innocently asked. But I’m dumping this particular two-faced persona. From now on, be afraid. I’m going to answer like I want.
Of course, if you are interested in adopting, bi-whatever or not, I will chat on the topic all day. All the gain, none of the pain. Many unbelievable blessings and surprises, like parenting the world over.
If you are just idly curious, MYOFB. More to the point, queries the Militant me, why do you ask?
NOTE: My friends are probably asking themselves, "Did I ask?" Don’t worry. Thanks to the Menopausal me, I don’t remember either.