the kindness of strangers

“How old is your son?”  she asked me.  It was a few weeks ago and my mom and I were walking past the line of people waiting to speak to the pharmacist.  Most of them stared at us.  Just a normal trip to the grocery store for Thane and I.  But she asked that question and my heart jumped a little.  “Your son”, not “the baby”, not “he”, but “your son.”  Just an ordinary question I suppose, between two moms.  I answered her question, she mentioned the age of her son and we moved on.

But I can’t stop thinking about it.

When we became a trans-racial family we became a conspicuous family.  I knew this going into the adoption.  Part of what this means is anywhere, everywhere we go we get stared at.  I call it the double glance.  People glance over, look away, then SNAP – back goes their head to stare at you and stare at Thane and back at you.  And I get it.  I really do.  Besides the trans-racial factor there is the cute-little-baby-who-is-too-adorable factor.  And let’s be honest, this mummy thinks her child is the most-adorable-boy-ever and so I quite concur with the comments about how gorgeous he is, because he is.

I offer photographic proof:

birth announcement march

But back to the double glance.  Some people take it a bit further, like the lady at the Contai*er Store who followed me for several aisles, stopping when I stopped, staring at us until I glanced back then she would pretend to look at whatever was in front of her.  Subtle.  Then there were the cashier at Koh*s who after we walked by called several of the other cashiers over to gawk.  And again, I get it.   He’s cute.  And brown.  I’m not so cute.  And peach.  And there we are. Sometimes it amuses me, sometimes I feel a little panicked, mostly though I try to take it in stride and just smile at people.  And honestly most of them smile back in return.  Others just pretend there were never staring to start with which is both humorous and pathetic.

I use lots of phrases like “thank you for helping Mommy” “this is the cereal Daddy likes”  and “Mommy loves you”.  I’m sure I would have done that anyway, because I like narrating life for Thane and he likes the interaction.  But when people are repeatedly staring I raise my voice a little and use the Mommy word.  And that usually eases some of their curiosity.  And they regain a few basic manners like the knowledge it’s impolite to openly gawk at people.

But that lady at the grocery store didn’t stare, she just acknowledged our relationship and moved on.  And that’s a kindness I’ll remember.

birth announcement march1

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