Does anyone have any advice about navigating questions from strangers?  It seems like everywhere I go, someone has to ask me something about my daughter.

“Oh!  She’s so cute!  She’s so tiny!  How old is she?” – well-meaning stranger

“Four months old.” – me

“Oh.” (insert awkward pause)  “Is she a preemie?” – semi-well-meaning but increasingly nosy stranger

“No.” – me

(insert longer awkward silence here)

Emily Rose pink

Sound familiar?  What are we supposed to do, here?  Am I under some kind of obligation to answer the seemingly endless barrage of never-ending questions from strangers?  What do I say?  How much do I say?  How polite am I expected to be?  Can I just smile?  Can I walk away?  What is the protocol? Help!!!

 

10 Responses to Navigating questions from strangers….

  1. Elizabeth Rooney says:

    I suppose it depends on what you comfortable with. Oliver is a twin and to be honest no one has ever asked about why he is so small in comparison to his twin. I personally would just say my son is smaller due to his genes.

  2. heather18 says:

    Yep! Sounds familiar! I’ve written several blog posts, I think, about this phenomenon. Here’s one:

    http://starinhereye.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/the-difference/

    You can do whatever you want. I still hate the “how old??” question and Fiona is 2 years. You can lie. Some people lie. You can tell the truth about her age and then leave them guessing as to why she’s small. You can give them all the details if you want, though it’s of course none of their business. Frankly, I now NEVER ask someone how old their kid is. It feels really violating to me.

    What I did, I think, was experiment with a lot of different answers. Sometimes I was just tired and ignored them. Sometimes I was feeling good and explained things. But you are under NO obligation to explain things to anyone.

    Just know that somewhere out there is a community in which Caroline is very much the usual size! We’d see her and say, “HOw old? 4 months?” And you’d say yes, and we’d say, “She looks great! So chunky!” and You’d beam. If you go to the national conference, this will happen. And it will be great. 🙂

  3. Janet says:

    I remember those days…mine is now 7 years old and she still stops strangers with her sweetness. And maybe because she is the first one to greet anyone that is within ANY distance….(she will say, “Hi” repeatedly until you say “Hi” back!) She invites strangers to ask questions, like… “how old are you” and “what’s your name?” because of her friendly and persistent, “HI”. I figure she was born to tell her story and sometimes she needs me to share it for her. I take the time to let them know how awesome she is,(depending on the stranger asking, of course!;) I’ve made it fun for my daughter as well as the stranger to guide their understanding of who she is! I’ve also gotten better at when to share and when to just smile and not feel bad about it. Trust your Mama’s heart.

  4. Laurie says:

    Oh my goodness– she is absolutely beautiful!!

    I am guilty of being the mom who felt inclined to either overshare or shame individuals who asked Kaylee’s age. It always began the same way: “Oh, she’s so tiny! Was she a preemie?” Me: “No.” Them:”Oh…” Sometimes I launched into telling that she has a rare syndrome that affects her growth; other times, I bluntly responded, “No, she has a syndrome” and walked away– leaving them to feel shame (or so I hoped). Now that she is older/bigger, I actually feel more compelled to tell about her syndrome; I’d rather people know and become informed than stare at her in wonder and curiosity. One thing is certain– anyone who sees your little girl is going to be taken with her beauty more than they will her size!

  5. Kristen Faccioli Licari says:

    Thank you all for your input. Navigating this new life that I have has proven rather difficult for me overall, and it seems that wherever I go, someone always has something to say and I never know how to respond. I don’t recall people having this much to say about my son, but maybe I’m just not remembering properly.

    And a special thanks to Laurie….that is, by far, the nicest compliment that anyone has ever paid to our little Emily Rose. —-<@ 🙂

  6. jjenkins says:

    I had my first experience with someone asking about Caroline’s size today and then responding in a not so appropriate manner. We were sitting in the lobby waiting to see the eye doctor and a lady, probably in her early 70’s, made the comment on how small Caroline was and then asked how old she was. I told her 11 weeks and then she gets this really confused and almost degrading look on her face, as if she was thinking that something must be wrong with her, and said “really” and turned her head away from us. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but I was livid. I knew someone would eventually ask, but I guess I just didn’t expect it so soon, and it made me even more upset because I was thinking, if you have a question about why she is so small, then ask so I can explain it to you, but if your going to be so up tight about it and act the way she did, then you shouldn’t even ask at all. It just really caught me off guard because I didn’t think a woman of her age would have acted that way towards me. However, the next lady that sat down asked the same thing, and when I told her Caroline was 11 weeks, she just said how adorable she was then went on to carry on a normal conversation with me about it, so it made me feel a lot better to know that not everyone out there is so ignorant, and that not everyone is going to pass judgement when they don’t even know what is going on with your child.

  7. Kristen Faccioli Licari says:

    Trust me, I understand. It’s going to happen more and more often, too. Well, at least it has for us. Virtually every time I take Emily out, someone has to say something to me about her. No exaggeration. Now that she’s almost 5 months old, I’m getting a bit more used to it, but I certainly don’t like it any more. I don’t particularly like having to explain myself to strangers….I hardly tell much to my family and friends these days, let alone strangers. I might need to rejoin Facebook to join the WHS pages. I’d really like to get the contact info for you ladies that I’ve been talking to on the regular (you, Heather & Laurie…and anyone else we happen to connect with).

  8. letty says:

    First of all, she is adorable!!! Secondly, you’re not obligated to answer any questions. For me, it depends on the mood I’m in. If I’m not in the mood, I usually just say “Yes, he was a preemie.” If I do feel like answering questions, then I’ll tell them, “he was preemie, but he also has a syndrome and that is the reason he is so small.” That usually keeps them from asking more questions. Sometimes they’ll say their brother/sister/family member has/had a syndrome also and that’s the end of it. I think it’s all up to you. She’s still a baby and with time, you’ll figure out how to answer and what makes you feel comfortable.

  9. Betsy says:

    I agree with Laurie. She is absolutely darling! What a beautiful girl you have.

  10. Shirley Bidnick says:

    Most of the time I am honest in response to, ‘what’s wrong?’. I say ‘nothing’, because for many years I believed there was nothing wrong with my sweet Rochelle. I thought I had the most beautiful, perfect child in the world. It took me a long time to accept that she wasn’t ‘normal’, or that others don’t see her the way I do.

    I want to do what I can to create a better world for Rochelle to live in, so I try to respond to curious stares and questions respectfully. Usually, I find that when others show an interest in Rochelle, they have their own story to tell.

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