As soon as you have children, the rude and presumptuous questions begin. People you never even met ask you if you plan to breastfeed, what kind of labor you plan to have, and if you and your husband are ready (code for: are you married?). But never was I as annoyed as when people would ask me if I was my child's nanny.
It happened all the time. I was in my 20s when my daughter was born, which was a fair amount younger than many other new moms in my city, and boy, did I pay for that. I hated it and felt like it negated me as a person, implied that the person speaking knew more about parenthood than me, and generally made me feel like the speaker was being condescending. And it happened again and again -- at the park, at the pool, at my child's school!
It turns out, I am not alone. Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN and she wrote an essay on what it's like to constantly be asked if she is her child's nanny. She says:
You can't take down that solid identity with a few words of brazen stereotyping. I have heard it all before. People have called me 'senorita' and 'spic' and grabbed my arm on the way to a restaurant restroom to demand: 'Can I get some service here?' So when a lady cab driver asked me how much I get for baby sitting her, it really shouldn't have rocked my sense of self.
Ah, but it does. And mine isn't even racially motivated. Arce says one father at the park told her his daughter had never met a Latina woman who wasn't a nanny. Nice move, dad!
In this day and age, families come in so many different shapes and sizes, it almost seems presumptuous and quite ill-informed to ask such a question. Maybe I am the stepmom or maybe I adopted my daughter with my wife. You just have no idea when you see a person what their family make-up is. We aren't all married with a white picket fence, Donna Reed hair, and cookies baking in the oven. Thank goodness for that!
So, hey, if you see a person at the park hanging with a bunch of kids, don't assume anything except they're there to have fun the same as anyone else. If she volunteers more information, by all means, listen. But don't ask that which is none of your business.
Do you get annoyed with rude park questions?