A NotMom friend recently shared an insight that’s been troubling her for some time. New acquaintances almost always ask “Do you have kids?”. The question obviously acknowledges that children are not always a given.
But, my friend complained, when she answers “No,” quite often the questioner can’t keep a look of surprise or even dismay off their face. My friend and I believe that because they expected a positive answer, they were prepared to launch into a story about their own parenthood. When they receive a negative response instead, their brains come to a screeching halt, and all that’s left to quickly say is, “Oh.”
My friend — let’s call her Louise — wanted me to know that she doesn’t give a curt “No” anymore to her questioners. For the past few months, when asked “Do you have kids?”. she answers with an enthusiastic “YES!”
“Yes,” Louise exclaims. “I have a 5-year-old Golden Retriever and a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier.” Sometimes, for wickedness’ sake, she’ll add, “Do YOU have any kids?”
Louise swears that people always “get it” and rarely present the rude follow-up inquiries she’s heard in the past, like, “Didn’t you want kids?” or the incredibly presumptive, “Well, you’ve still got time.”
As fo me, I simply say “No,” but I usually follow up with “I have a cat, and I don’t have to buy him clothes or send him to college.” Louise’s strategy flips that around and I think I’ll try it the next time I’m asked.
How do you answer The Question?