"Are they twins?"
changed over a few months to:
"They must be twins"
to yet again:
My response is always the same. "No, they're 19 months apart"
Which used to elicit a smile and:
"Well, they're so cute!"
and then changed to:
"Oh wow, they sure do look a lot a like."
to yet again:
"Are you sure?"
Today for the first time, I gave in to my weaker side.
"Oh twins are so hard, aren't they?" A sympathetic mom asked me at Costco today
I turned quickly, not sure how to answer.
"I have twin ten years olds, and I promise. It does get better" She continued.
I had a split second to respond and went with
"Yes, yes it is really hard."
Which satisfied her because she then walked quickly away. It was simple, saved me the "ARE YOU SURE?" question (which is better than the "Do you know how that happened?" question that I used to get when it was just obvious that they were close in age...but still...)
Then four more people asked me as we wandered through the store, and it was easy yes, but I felt guilty.
So when we arrived at Hannaford and an older lady approached me with
My conscience made me say "Well, actually they're 19 months apart"
Which caused her to lean down REALLY close to the race car cart and take a closer look.
"Is that your first?"
"She is my first and he is my second."
She then whispered.
"Does she- does she have Down syndrome?" like she was saying a dirty word.
"Yes, yes she does." I proudly answered.
"But- she's so cute!" The lady said in amazement.
"Yes, she is perfect. We love her very much."
I thought the conversation was over, and I made a grab for the Ranch dressing and an escape, but I had no such luck.
She scooted her cart over by mine and settled in for a long conversation. uh-oh
"When I was raising my kids, I knew a 5 year old with Down syndrome, and she was surprisingly smart."
"I believe it. Down syndrome is a very misunderstood label." I replied.
She leaned in my face with a look of judgement.
"Did you know that all Down syndrome people look exactly the same?"
"Well, actually each person with Down syndrome is unique-just like all the other people. And while there might be similar features, individuals with Down syndrome are definitely not all the same." I said as gently as possible.
"And furthermore" she continued, ignoring me "If you wait until you're THIRTY to have a baby (she spat it out like another dirty word) that baby will mostly likely have Down syndrome. Better to have babies young."
She glared at me.
I was speechless but finally sputtered out a response.
"Well, I'm not thirty. Women of all ages can have a child with Down syndrome." I weakly replied. (Seriously, what do you say to that?)
"And I heard" (there's more?) "They actually have a test now that you can take WHILE YOU'RE PREGNANT to predict that sort of thing. Did you know that?" She asked me pointedly.
"Yes, yes I did." I held my head high. I wasn't ashamed of Addison at all. I continued "Down syndrome has brought wonderful things into our life, and we love our little girl very much. Down syndrome is not a bad thing. We wouldn't trade Addison for any other little girl."
"Well, your little boy is very handsome." She talked again, ignoring me. "He'll be good for her. They need all the help they can get, but apparently they can be cute."
"Yes, THEY are both very cute and THEY both need a lot of help." (I ignored that she was talking about individuals with Down syndrome and referred to BOTH of my children)
"I hear that often times their parents just abandon them on the side of the road because they just can't take the hard work anymore." She said.
"Well, I hear that of babies in general. Some people just aren't ready to be parents because parenting in and of itself is hard." I replied holding back in a big way- keeping it polite.
She nodded in surprise and then launched into a monologue about the 5 kids that she raised and her divorce 20 years ago.
Trapped in the salad dressing aisle with two wiggly babies launching themselves out of the cart and the recipient of this lady's life story, I decided that sometimes lying might not be the worst thing in the world....
She finally let me go with the admonition to "BE STRONG" for the hard life I have in front of me.
It's those types of stereotypes that make me angry...because she didn't listen to a word I said...or REALLY looked at Addison. And no matter how badly I wanted to, I wasn't going to respond unkindly because whats the point? So in my mind, the entire conversation I rewound back to that moment before the conversation began where I changed my answer to:
"Yup, twins." and then seamlessly moved on to the rest of my shopping in peace. (well, as much peace as you can have while shopping with twins anyway...)