Earlier on this week we decided to go to the local shopping centre to pick up some craft supplies and maybe a gift or two. Mike and I loaded up the minibus with the two double buggies and the nine youngest children and set off.
As is quite usual now, we were stopped several times during our trip, with people wanting to know if all the children are ours, how old the twins are and how many children we actually have and any other of the regular questions we get asked. It makes the trips last a little longer but people are so pleasant when they see us and ask them that we don’t mind at all.
A lot of older people mention how many siblings they may have had, or others say how they wish they had a large family or how great Christmas must be. We, thankfully, have always received a position reaction.
As we were wandering around another store, we were stopped once again, for what was perhaps the fifth or sixth time during our not even two hour trip. We were asked how many children we had, talked a little with the couple who had stopped us and then continued our shop. Mike took the children outside the shop while I queued up to pay at the counter.
As I was being served a second shop assistant came off the shop floor and began talking to her colleague who was serving me.
“There’s a lady over there with eleven kids! Eleven!” she told her friend.
We smiled at each other, with me thinking she’d obviously seen Mike and I talking to the couple we’d just left.
“Eleven?!” the lady serving me repeated.
“Yes! Can you imagine having eleven children?!” the first lady replied. And as they spoke and laughed together, occasionally glancing over and throwing a smile my way as they did so, it dawned that they didn’t realise they were talking about me!
As I stood there, listening to the conversation unfold as I was being served I wondered whether I ought to jump in and tell them that I was the person they were talking about. They weren’t being rude or insulting. They were both laughing as they imagined having so many children themselves, and were dealing with all the usual questions between each other that people generally tend to ask when they find out the size of your family.
As I was debating with myself, the assistant serving me asked her colleague a question.
“Was the mum slim?”
Here is my cue to jump right on in here and do it fast! If the lady who had overheard our conversation answered her friend and said, “Oh no! The mum is really hefty!” I would have been devastated!
“No, she’s not,” I interrupted, and they looked up thinking I was probably being incredibly rude after firstly butting into their conversation and, secondly, insulting somebody I didn’t even know.
“I’m the mum!” I explained.
And now we had two apologetic, embarrassed ladies trying desperately to reassure me that no, I am not fat and making the “Wow! Eleven children!” comments.
I don’t know who found the situation funnier; me, the assistants or Mike who wondered why I was laughing when I walked out of the shop.
I’ll bet the ladies are just thankful they didn’t say anything bad!