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NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS
2 August 2006
"Is that Bev Sykes standing there?" the familiar voice rang out across the crowded veterinary office waiting room.
I turned around and saw a couple sitting there, people we have known since our kids were in school together. They were there with their son's dog, whose leg had been injured. I would classify them as "casual acquaintances," since even when we saw them more frequently, we were never more than PTA friends, people whose kids were in the same classes, people who worked on some of the same school projects together.
Once the kids left grammar school, we saw them even less. They started their own business and that kept them busy, but, in truth, it never occured to me ever to say "Gee...I wonder what X and Y are doing these days. We haven't seen them in such a long time."
I'm sure everyone has friends like that.
I smiled and said hello to them and turned to let the people at the counter know that Sheila was there for her heart worm test.
"I see Walt at the farmers' market all the time, but I never see you," the woman said, with an accusatory tone.
I explained that I go to the farmers' market occasionally, but that Walt usually rides his bike and that since my bike accident, I wasn't able to ride my bike.
"So what are you doing for exercise instead," she demanded, her eyes trailing pointedly down to my panniculus (you can look that one up yourself).
"I walk sometimes," I said, wondering why I had to discuss my physical condition in front of not only these casual acquaintences, but also the other strangers in the waiting room and the staff of the vet office.
I turned back to give more information to the medical assistant, who told me to take a seat and they would be out to get Sheila in a minute.
"What's the news on the grandchildren front for you?" the woman asked, as I sat down.
"No granchildren," I said to her, smiling.
"What??? Three kids and no grandchildren?" she exclaimed. Then she added that they are expecting a grandbaby later this year and how excited they were about it.
I congratulated them.
"What about Jeri. Doesn't Jeri want children?" she asked.
I hardly knew how to answer that question, but fortunately, since she seemed to have decided that my inconsiderate children had deliberately made the decision to deprive me of the chance to have a grandchild, it gave her the opportunity to extole the virtues of her about-to-be-Daddy son and his lovely fiancee, whom he will marry when the kid is 6 months old.
This is one of those families where the children are so perfect that you feel it is expected that you bow down and express your gratitude at having had the opportunity of knowing them when they were still having snot wiped off their noses.
I know that there are a lot of people out there who have raised crown princes and princesses, kids who have invented cures for cancer and written the great American novel, but there seem to be an inordinate number of them living in this town. People who take "hello...how are you" for an invitation to give a recitation of the litany of the achievements of their children.
I enjoy knowing what kids I've known for years are doing, but sometimes it just becomes too much when the parent is obviously trying to impress you with the accomplishments and has no interest whatsoever in whatever paltry little thing your own kids might be doing, except as how it pales in comparison to the accomplishments of their own.
(We never got to a discussion of what their brilliant daughter is doing--I think last time I got the report, she had written a best selling book or won the Nobel Peace Prize or something like that. I sheepishly admit to not paying close attention.)
I also don't know what business it is of anybody to ask probing, personal questions, let alone a casual acquaintance. It's not sort of thing I would ask my own children, much less casual acquaintances... and if I were so bold as to ask a casual acquaintance, I certainly wouldn't start a personal discussion across a room crowded with strangers.
I have never asked my kids when or if they were going to marry. I have never asked my kids when or if they were going to have children. To have a baby just so Mom can become a grandmother is the absolute worst reason to bring a child into this world and I am proud of them for making their decisions without factoring that into the equation. There may be grandchildren. Maybe there won't be grandchildren. But it is no business of ANYONE's (including my own) when and why my children make that very personal decision.
[For all she knew, Jeri or one of my daughters-in-law might have had to have a hysterectomy and perhaps this was a very painful topic to discuss (they haven't, and it isn't, but still....).]
Talk about the weather, talk about local politics, talk about our dogs, but let's leave the sensitive questions to be discussed among real friends and at a time where one member of the conversation is not likely to be made uncomfortable by the public grilling.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
I love this photo of Chippa treeing a cat