We “only” have five kids. That’s how I feel most of the time because this is our normal. I’m used to the noise and energy level. I’m accustomed to the exorbitant grocery bills. I multitask in my sleep.
But then sometimes I see a picture of us and I think, “Shit, that’s a lot of kids. No wonder people do double takes when they see us.” Yes, I notice the double takes; you’re not as stealthy as you think you are, Public.
There are a lot of other things I notice when I’m out with my large, transracial family, too, like:
The ease with strangers feel free to ask us personal questions. “Are they all yours?” “Do they have the same mother?” “Is she a drug addict?” “Why doesn’t someone tie her tubes already?” Would you ask me these questions if all of our skin tones matched?
The fact that the old man that smiled at my little Black girl was wearing a shiny new TRUMP cap. Hard not to notice a bit of irony there.
When people are looking around at the playground trying to figure out whose kids these are because they don’t see an adult of the same race . . . or when they assume the adult of the same race is the person in charge of my kids.
How infrequently restaurants actually mean it when they advertise KIDS EAT FREE. (So far, never.)
When someone in your town gets a sweet 10-passenger van and you finally understand your husband’s bouts of vehicle envy. (To be fair I also stare longingly at tiny little Fiats and Vespas but on a totally unpractical level.)
How rarely transracial families and/or families with more than three kids are depicted in any sort of media or advertising . . . and how when we do see families like ours in public how we gravitate towards one another.
We notice when you attempt to say our daughter’s “ethnic” name the right way and when you just don’t even bother to try. We understand when you can’t keep track of which kid is which—we’ve been trying to come up with a jingle to make it easier for you.
How eager some people are to compare us to people they know (my neighbor’s cousin adopted two sisters from China!) or celebrities. Sometimes it’s borderline racist (She looks just like Lupita! No she doesn’t, they’re just both Black) and sometimes it’s just silly (not that I mind this one as much but, no, we are really not like Brad and Angelina.)
When people inquire about your kids’ birth parents with empathy . . . because the opposite is the norm, the times that people show compassion really stand out.
When strangers refer to our son that doesn’t look like us as our son—without any pause, no hesitation—we notice. And we thank you.