I suspect if we lived in the suburbs we wouldn’t get stopped and asked this question nearly every single day of our lives.
Maybe we would just be another family with a bunch of kids that lived in that house on the street… but somehow when you live smack dab in the downtown core of a big city it’s weird to have four kids walking beside you everywhere you go.
I realize that we do take up a lot of sidewalk space with a stroller as well as three somewhat free range children. But we do our best to be considerate.
I like to think that we look like that classic scene from a lot of movies. Where all of the good guys courageously walk in unison with inspirational theme song music, just before they’re about to do something really brave, or dangerous, or exciting…
In my brain we’re exactly like that; but like the sticky, sandy, somewhat loud and rambunctious version.
“Are they all yours?” the lady asks crossing the street as I’m huffing and puffing, all big bad wolf style, just desperately trying to get back up that huge hill from the beach.
“Yup, they sure are!”
“That’s awesome, way to go mom!”
That’s exhibit A.
We like that lady, I then tell my kids that she’s a nice lady who speaks kind encouraging words, the very type of person we want to be, and surround ourselves with. Essentially, she can definitely stay because she’s awesome, and we congratulate her on being a great citizen.
Then there’s exhibit B.
I’ve gotten, “Are they all yours? Whyyyyyy would you do that?” from another lady.
I COULD have turned around and torn a strip off of her, but that would have been a terrible example for my children… and a mean defensive mama I am not.
I COULD have just ignored her and felt super small and insignificant, and then questioned my life choices to have four baby boys the entire journey home.
But I didn’t. Because I’m a strong confident woman… (I wrote an entire post about that here.)
I simply stopped strolling and my boys paused their walking while I looked at her and said, “Whyyyyyy would say that to me?”
Nice. That’s a good investigative question, because it’s easy to say things out loud without thinking, and I bet you a dollar if she had thought through her statement before saying it she would have rephrased it, or maybe remembered, “If you can’t saying anything nice, don’t say nothing at all…”
Thanks Thumper and Bambi for teaching us good quality human interaction wisdom so many years ago.
She mumbled something about that being a lot of work, and I must be a little bit crazy, and maybe she shouldn’t have said what she did… and then she ignored us and walked away with her little dog trailing behind on its leash.
That was the end of that…
Except for the part where I debriefed what the proper response was in that situation with my boys. I told them I was happy that I got to PRACTICE once again exactly how I want to and should respond in those moments.
I don’t need to let rude people ruin my day, and I don’t need to answer with anger and resentment. I also don’t need to let them walk all over me either. I reminded my boys that words need to be carefully chosen, and that we are people who encourage others when we speak, even when other people don’t always do it to us.
In our home, we consistently repeat “Speak life!” whenever a rude comment slips out here and there…
SPEAK LIFE! We sometimes yell louder when little boys are filled with temporary rage and can’t turn the rage knob down fast enough…
SPEAK LIFE! When we sometimes want to speak anything but. Because that’s who we are at our house… we encourage, we watch our words, and when we make a mistake and something rude slips out, we’re quick to apologize and quick to forgive.
So yes. Speak life. Even when the lady on the street is rude.