Tuesday, July 24, 2007

She Shouldn't Have to Say "Hello"

Ok, so this post has been along time coming but I finally have to get this off my chest. We normally gather a fair amount of attention as a family, and although we would prefer not to, we understand why it happens. And, most of the time, people are very gracious in trying to figure out our family, although, we would much prefer that they would just ask sometimes. But, some people find the need to be obtrussive and downright weird about how they approach our family, and particulary our daughter.

Example: We went to dinner this past weekend at a local place that we go to pretty often. The owner and the host know us, and are always very kind to us, bring Makenna colors, treats, etc. That is fine, because it comes from a genuine place. They have gotten to know our family and we comfortable with them. So, we make sure Makenna is polite and thanks them, etc. However, there are a lot of tourist that also frequent this place (it's a really nice restaurant, near a lot of lakes) and there in lies the problem. The other night a lady walked past our table and said "Oh she's so cute!". Well, we hear that a lot, so we just mumbled thanks and tried to keep eating and just hoped she would keep on her way. But, she stood there and just kept staring and saying "she's so cute" "hi sweetie, can you say hi?" to the point of making us uncomfortable pretty quickly. We said "thanks again, and said we were just trying to eat our dinner, and that she isn't really comfortable with strangers." The lady looked at me shocked, like it was horrible that we weren't going to make her say hi to this lady. She eventually left, but still kept gushing about "how cute" Makenna was.

Why should she have to say hi to every person who finds our family a novelty? Why should I have to encourage her to talk to strangers, when this world is full of dangerous people? Why should we not be able to eat our dinner the same as everyone else? She certainly does talk to people that she knows, or that she knows are safe by the way we react, people we work with, family, friends, etc.

The reason this situation particularly got me was because it felt like an overcompensation from this person. Almost like she wasn't comfortable with our situation, and was compensating for that by going the other way. I have heard this before, and have only begun to realize that there are occasion that this happens to us--subtle racism. Overt racism is hard and it stings as a parent, and I can't imagine how it feels when it happens to you. But there are subtle forms of racism that can still make you as uncomfortable as well, that don't seem like it at first glance. It seems like such a hard thing to figure out, and I am sure we will continue to learn as we go. I just want to make sure my sweet girl is armed with all she will need to face this world, and sometimes that seems like an impossible task.


Susy Q said...

I understand what you're saying. Since being home with Sasha, there has been no stop to the attention. People EVERYWHERE stop us to say how beautiful she is, which is usually genuine, we think, because she IS gorgeous. But they always expect some type of response from her, and don't leave till they get it, which puts a LOT of pressure on my mom to make sure she's always well-behaved for them. Not easy with an 18 month old! However, she does have the most adorable- and convenient- habit of waving and blowing kisses at anything and everything (including inanimate objects.) But you're right- they should be expected to act like the other toddlers that they wouldn't have paid attention to.

Having said that, though, I've never felt more popular in my life! :-)

ReneƩ said...

WELCOME TO MY WORLD! I TOTALLY get what you are saying. This is at the very least a monthly occurance for us. You are so right not to make your child speak to strangers. I have had to be almost rude to people to get them to leave us alone during a meal out! Thanks for you post, you mirror my feelings exactly! By the way, congrats on your new daughter, can't wait to see her pix!!!! I love your website! Renee in WA. www.ourmeimei.blogspot.com

The Krumwiede Six said...

I myself do not have any adopted children, but as a parent of multiples I can kind of relate... like when I take my girls to the grocery store... I am asked at LEAST 5 times "are they twins"..."are they identical"--which they are not, one has brown hair and brown eyes the other, blonde hair blue eyes... People just don't get it!!!

i am sorry that you have to 'deal' with these sort of people and I wish the world would realize that a family is a family no matter what color, creed, gender, or size.

Kristin Krumwiede :)