Monday, July 20, 2009

Uncharacteristically Silent

Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably already heard about this one, but it's been bothering me for a few days, so I thought I'd open it to the group.

At Grasshopper's swim lesson last week, I was chatting with the grandmother of another 3 year old boy in the class, who happens to be a fifth grade teacher. During the course of the conversation, I mentioned that we were working towards another adoption. Our conversation then went something like this:

Her: "Oh! Grasshopper is adopted?"

Me: "Yes."

Her: "How old was he when you got him?"

Me: "20 days old."

Her:"Wow! That's almost like you're his mother!"

Me: "??????????"

I said NOTHING. I just sat there gulping air like a fish while she prattled on about how lucky Grasshopper is to have a terrific and loving family. I was horrified, but had NO IDEA how to respond to such blatant ignorance. She was obviously happy for us, but my GAWD, how can anyone say such a thing?

I have felt guilty for my silence ever since.

This woman teaches children at a really formative point in their lives. I get sick to my stomach thinking about her saying something like that to an adopted child under her tutelage. Someone who, at 11 years old, would take her seriously, and be unable to recognize her ignorance for what it is.

That session of swim lessons is over, and I don't know if I'll ever see this woman again, but it's been weighing on my mind. What should I have said, Dear Internets? What is the correct response to someone who obviously means well, but is so blindsidingly (yes, I think I just invented that word) STUPID?


Manic Mommy said...

"Wow! It's almost like you're not a ignorant dinosaur!"

I have adopted cousins, friends, and children of friends. I can't imagine *not* thinking of them as 100% ours.

StephLove said...

First, I'm sorry this happened to you. I haven't been in this situation but I find whenever someone surprises me with a hugely inappropriate comment I'm too shocked to respond, too. So don't feel too guilty.

But in the event that it happens again, I think a simple, dignified "I AM his mother" would suffice.

If you like I can ask my friends, a Jewish lesbian couple with two African-American boys, what ignorant questions/comments you might expect if you adopt an African-American baby. That way you can prepare your answers ahead of time and not get shell-shocked into silence. I think the responses the kids hear are the most important ones.

Funnyrunner said...

hmmmm. I might have gone with: "Bite me, grandma..." ?

too harsh?

Mama Goose said...


I'm so sorry she was such an ignorant cow. I don't think I would have reacted so graciously. I'm completely stunned.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I can't believe how stupid people can be. I could have given her a freebie point for being OLD and from another generation but please. How can someone say something like that?

You ARE his mother. Genetics has nothing to do with it.

That said. I would have sat there thinking "lady how dumb are you?" but I would have said nothing.

lonek8 said...

I might have replied "as opposed to what?" Or perhaps, "in fact, I AM his mother. And I can assure you that you wil NEVER be his fifth grade teacher."
It nevers fails to shock me how stupid and rude people can be.

mzbehavin said...

I understand totally the shock, anger, and disbelief that throws you into silent mode around such an..... ignaramous... all of our children are "OURS" A uterus does not a mother make....... and that woman needs a lesson in.... I don't know what..... ( I Don't have an adopted child.... this just made me FURIOUS...) Oh... I do love your writng though, Following......

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Oh, I would have been too shocked to say anything but after my blood started flowing again I would love to have said, "what do you mean by that? I AM his mother." And then let her fill the awkward silence.

I'm impressed you didn't throw her in the pool.

Kim said...

Wow. Isn't it strange that in this day and time I am continually shocked at people's ignorance.

Again, wow.

Sandi said...

I correct instantly. Just start doing it. You will have a thousand more opportunities.

I get asked daily.
How many do have?
answer -14
How many are yours?
answer -14
no, I mean how many did you have?
"I gave birth to four and adopted ten
but they are all MINE!"

I make them fell like idiots, but I am so tired of the ignorance.