Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The "Papparazzi"

I studiously avoid eye contact when our family is in a crowded public place.

Catching a friendly watching eye is practically an invitation to curious questions, and sometimes we'd just rather not answer those. However, there are still occasions when despite our best efforts the "papparazzi" (as we jokingly call them) refuse to be discouraged - and so deal with them we must!

Last Friday was one of those days.

The girls had been invited to a friend's house, so Pedro and I decided it might be fun to run some errands with just the three boys. Our second stop was at the Zofri, Iquique's free trade shopping mall and included plans for lunch. We headed first to the bathrooms and took turns getting washed up before eating. When it was my turn to watch Ian and Alec who were in their double stroller, I decided to wait on a nearby bench. As I sat there, people passed by and I heard the usual murmurs of delight and appreciation over how cute the boys are. Soon our first outspoken admirer decided to stop and chat.

She wasn't over the top, just very emotional about how wonderful it was that I had these two children and how wonderful I was to have taken two at once. As is my custom, I assured her that it is they who are a blessing to me but nonetheless with tears in her ears she commended me over and over for this great thing I had done and told me she understood the heart of a mother and how color doesn't matter, it's all about love. And then she was gone.

Breathing a sigh of relief when Pedro reappeared, I helped get the little boys out of the stroller and we headed with our trio down the escalator to a pizza place below. As we descended, hands reached down from above to touch the boys' heads and compliments showered down on them. Hurriedly we found a table and hoped for a little anonymity as we ate.

It was not to be, however, as first one woman approached who had been admiring the boys from afar and simply "had to" come and say how beautiful they were. On her heels two teenage girls approached, camera in hand, and asked to take their picture with Owen. My standard answer is that it is up to him (though I added that I didn't think he was in the mood, since he was kind of grumpy at that point) and he refused. They sadly went away, only to be replaced by a probing woman who was determined to rouse the "mama bear" in me.

This woman took a long look around the table and asked me, "Are they all brothers?" Correct answer, "Yes." Next question, "And are they all yours?" Answer, "Yes." Then she looked at Pedro and asked, "And are they all yours?" To which of course he responded, "Yes." She turned again to me and stated bluntly, "I don't believe it." I was almost too flabbergasted to speak but found myself saying in a steely tone, "BELIEVE IT." She took one look at my face and another look at the boys and walked away!

All of these instances took place in about a half hour's time. There were more, but I think this provides a pretty good idea of why we don't go out in public much anymore. When we do, we have to mentally prepare for the "papparazzi" ... because they're prepared for us! :)


Life with Kaishon said...

Do you ever get to invite any of the curious onlookers to your church? I love that you let Owen decide if he wants a picture. Do the kids like being in the US more where they are not 'celebrities?' Owen probably is too young to remember. Do the girls? Were you and your sister treated the same way when you were younger?

Ellie said...

I and my husband have both gotten the "are they yours.... and his?" questions at times followed by disbelieving looks with our first few kids.

You see, my first was born blond - a little blond towhead to a dark man and a medium wife. You could have stamped me with the word "AFFAIR" across my forehead by the looks I got. (He has darkened with age thankfully!) The second was born dark - adorable and dark, but unlike his brother.

So out in public... interesting responses. Even if I claimed them both as mine, I usually got the next question, "Do they have different fathers?" Ok, now stamp me with "SLEEPING AROUND" on my forehead! Just squeeze it in underneath the "affair"!

Thankfully, the next two repeated the same pattern, but different eye colors.

Four kids:
#1 light hair, black eyes
#2 dark hair, light eyes
#3 light, light
#4 dark, dark

Finally people have shut up. I think, too, as the kids age, people don't ask so many stupid questions about my um, "private" life in front of them.

I hope in your case it also stops as the ids age and people realize that they DO understand.

John & Perla said...

I would welcome any opportunity for people to bless me or my children. I would welcome the ice-breaking conversation to share Christ. When we're in Haiti all the children always rub my belly like I'm a buddha or something - last time even adults were doing it. I think they never saw a large person before. It's become very annoying - but they like to be near me - if that even makes sense and it has opened a door for me that otherwise I may not have had. Instead of Paparazzi, call them the "Lost".

Jenn said...

How frustrating that can be when it happens over and over again. It's hard to extend grace and understanding over and over and over again! It always cracks me up when people ask if Jeremy is my son and if I adopted him. I like to mess with their minds sometimes and say with my best acting face, "yes, he's mine. Can't you tell? He has my smile and...his skin comes from my freckles which are MY Haitian genes." :) They usually give me a confused, "I guess it must be true" kind of look before I laugh and move on to the next subject. :)

Ottawa, Canada said...

It happens with bio kids too. My youngest was very small for his age. People loved to make comments to me. What always surprised me is when strangers would touch his hair-it happened so often! He had that cute look to him. The attention went away when he was around 11.
The attention is part your life- especially while the boys are little. They are 3 very cute boys!!