um, you must be thinking of someone else

So I run into the supermarket today on a mad rush to find a homeopathic teething remedy — who knew babies could start teething so early? — and have a typical infertile experience. Though this time with a baby.

First I am literally surrounded by pregnant women, but that goes without saying. I am at a supermarket in the middle of the day, after all. Then I am forced to listen to someone talk about another woman’s 36th week of pregnancy. Whatever.

I’ve got Baby J in her carseat, which is in the cart, and I am racing to get out of there before she wakes up and remembers that her gums hurt like hell. I grab dinner while I’m there, then realize they don’t have what I’m looking for and I’ll have to make another stop. Great.

So I’m in line at the express lane and finally make my way to the register (in front of a basketball belly about to drop, of course). And then this:

Checkout lady: Oh, look [squealing]! Last time I saw you, you were pregnant!

Me: Um, no…

Checkout lady: Yes, I remember you! You were about to give birth! Congratulations!

Me: Nope, er, that wasn’t me, but thanks.

Checkout lady: Are you sure? Didn’t you come to my lane before, when you were so pregnant?

Me: Um, no. You must be thinking of someone else [really wishing she’d just finish checking me out by now].

Checkout lady: I don’t know… I usually remember faces pretty well!

Me: Well, not this time I guess [finally entering my pin so I can stop talking to her].

Checkout lady: I could have sworn that was you. Are you sure?

Me: Yep, I’m sure [relieved to be done].

I did not use this as an opportunity to share Baby J’s adoption story. It wasn’t the time or the place. If I had, it would have been just to make the woman feel like an ass.

I did that once before and it felt a little odd afterwards. That time, I was out having lunch with my mom. A server I hadn’t seen in a while (but who M and I used to know from semi-regular visits) said, “she looks just like her father!” and I said, “that’s funny because we’ve never met him.” She looked at me quizzically, and I explained, “we adopted her at birth” and she said “oh, how neat.”

With that exchange I realized I needed to apply the fine art of discretion. I knew it, but it is much harder when I am in a situation requiring an immediate response. I’ve thought of other responses that would be less, well, crude. And I’ve thought about when a response is not necessary at all.

Today was one of those times, I think.

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~ by luna on September 8, 2009.

23 Responses to “um, you must be thinking of someone else”

  1. Dude, I would’ve done that, too.

    Someone did a study recently (my dad was telling me) about the whole kids looking like their parents thing, and a lot of it perception, not actual likeness. (I guess they lined up some kids and some parents and people couldn’t match them blind.) Anyway, my cousin’s son is adopted and I swear he resembles them more every day that passes. I wouldn’t be surprised if you get more of that.

    And I wouldn’t blame you remotely for having a snarky return in the can, if you wanted. Much love.

  2. Good for you. I think I may have been tempted to make the girl feel stupid. It’s like really, take a hint and drop the subject.
    Funny thing is I used to frequently hear you look just like … all the time and I’m adopted too. I don’t think my mom usually bothered to explain that one. Let them think what they want.

  3. I found I have become less liking of personal questions, from strangers/acquaintences, especially about my kids and how many there are, afer losing Caleb. I waver between wanting to unleash the whole story and biting my tongue. Neither ever feels right. With time, I have become more able to steer a conversation I feel is headed into ‘no man’s land’ but, I always feel a little icky after tho, because no matter what, honesty or dishonesty, someone leaves the conversation wishing it hadn’t happened. There has to be a better way….
    Tash may be right, snarky returns may rule the day.

  4. Uggh, that sounds like one of those moments where you wish you could just evaporate someone. I’d be tempted to say, “No, honey, that was fat, but she is adorable isn’t she?”

  5. When we first brought Elijah home, no one in our church knew we were adopting and so many strangers came to us after and said he looked just like his dad. Our response was a quick, ‘thank you’ and that was it. For us it has tapered down, but after a few people found out we had adopted him they started asking the personal questions, as if it was their business to know. A friend gave us a good response line, just ask them why they are asking and it usually stops the nosiness.

  6. I am at a total loss. I got nothin’.

    Ugh.

  7. I know how you feel about the pregnant people I swear there are so many of them. I worked at a pediatric office while goign through IVF 5 times, not good aned I became very hateful and jaded. still am. Finally got my daughter home after 17 months and 8 of them me living in Guatemala with her, so no one looks at her and thinks she mine, actually only 1 person so far. I do always explain that she is from Guatemala, alot of people are interested or know someone that has adopted domestically or internationally, I guess I am not a very private person so I don’t mind sharing, I don’t think most people are nosey just interested and I think thats fantastic.
    She may or may not be teething, some babies start teething around 6 months, my daughters foster mom kept trying to tell me she was teething everytime we visited from 3 months on, but she wasn’t, just drooling and chewing on everything, she didn’t get her first tooth until 10 months old. Be careful with the teething tablets, she’s pretty young and they have belladonna (not spelled right but thats how it sounds) its natural opium, they do work good, but even at 21/2 I only gave my daughter 3 max, give your husband 10 and see how he feels, I never took them but I friend of mine made her husband try them and he felt a bit woozey.

  8. What a crazy encounter! I guess I take for granted how, after everything I’ve learned about infertility/loss/alternative family-building, I would never make assumptions (or even speak out loud, in public, to someone I don’t know) about anyone’s “reproductive details.” Weird how the rest of the world doesn’t work that way. But yeah, not surprising!

    I pretty much always knew I was adopted, and growing up people used to ALWAYS remark that I looked like my parents when we were out and about (I think we all just have that “brunette generic white person” look). But I do recall, as a kid, it made me feel really happy to hear that, regardless of whether or not it made actual sense.

  9. Luna – if you think the once in a while unsolicited comments will stop just because you have a babe in arms you are sadly mistaken! 🙂
    I think it is wise to be discreet – although how sad about the people being nosy (above person’s comment!)

  10. A quick comment on the “she looks just like her father” thing that happened to you . . . it took me a good 6 months, as Lil Pumpkin has gotten older, to recognize that no matter how kind or well-meaning, NOBODY (even a kind but casual stranger) is entitled to know how our children joined the family, or other private details. This is probably more an issue for us, since LP being Chinese kinda gives it away immediately. In your case, I would without hesitation have smiled brightly and replied, “she certainly has a bright and beautiful smile just like her

    People often comment on how dramatic and stubborn Lil Pumpkin is, and I giggle and say “Gee, I wonder where she learned such behavior?!”

  11. That is the way I learned to be discreet . . . by blurting out too much information and then realizing it is ok to leave people with misconceptions.

    Sorry about the experience.

  12. The Wolvog likes to shout “nope-ies” as an obnoxious response and I have taken to using it from time to time. Just because it usually distracts the person from their bizarre line of questioning to respond to a woman talking like a preschooler.

    Woman: are you sure that wasn’t you?
    Luna: Nope-ies!

  13. Hehe. Hard to fight with someone who is so sure they are right!

    I had a friend do something even worse. She congratulated a woman at a party for being pregnant and she said “I’m not”, Friend then made it worse by gesturing quizically towards her tummy. Realised her appalling mistake and then spent the rest of the party trying to hide from her. OOOpps.

  14. I have a round belly, not pregnant at all, just happen to gain weight where my mother’s entire side of the family does, and I often get the when are you due? or other similar questions. Not a great thing to ask or assume of a person, especially when you have no idea that they’ve been going through infertility. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut however, and even to people I know will say, “Nope, not pregnant, just fat, but thanks!” Boy does that leave some people stumbling. I even had a coworker who I hadn’t seen in a few months, who knew about our infertility stuff, stop me in the hall the other day when I said hi to her, so have her say “Did you do that all on your own?” I responded, “I’m not pregnant, actually we’re beginning the process of adoption.” She felt awful, and this woman is a lactation consultant who helped us when we had our first son after IVF. Geez.

  15. You have far more restraint than I. I would be blurting it out every time someone said something like that until little Baby J is old enough to understand the conversation.

  16. Wow, what a rude women. I mean, I realize she wasn’t trying to be (or at least, she didn’t think she was) but it was still pretty nuts. I mean, you’d have thought she would have got it the first time… you know? It is a different place after you’ve adopted, it’s one of the things that worries me if we adopt. Trying to find the social limits, when and what to say… it seems more difficult than with a biological child, because people always take that as a given even when it’s not.

  17. Oh I am dreading moments like this. But I think you are right, there is a time to expend energy on it and a time to ignore. I am training my mind to ignore most of the time. If someone says my baby looks like me I will just try to laugh and nod knowingly. I was told by my friend that people say these things just to make the parent feel good even though it’s a totally unnecessary thing.

  18. Really, sometimes people just don’t know when to stop. I don’t understand how her saying the same thing over and over was going to make you “remember” anyway.

    Hope those gums are feeling better.

  19. incoming link:
    http://www.blogher.com/parenting-after-infertility

  20. incoming link:
    http://ourlittletongginator.blogspot.com/2009/09/sunday-linkage_13.html

  21. I just found your blog, actually I am really happy because hubby said to me ” why don’t you look and see if there are any adoption blogs”
    We miscarried a year ago, we started trying again but nothing I just want to go the adoption route. I hope to continue to read more of your blog soon.

    I liked this post, the other day someone asked me ” Since you work in child care do you want to have a big family” I said “maybe” she kept going . “well do you want kids, when do you think you will have them ….????” Sometimes I would love to put people in their place but I know that wont make me feel any better.

  22. I get this sometimes when people think I’m the mother of my stepson. It’s understandable because sometimes I call him my stepson and sometimes I call him my son. When a stranger says that they can see the resemblence, I just take it as a compliment and don’t bother to correct them. If it’s a stranger you meet, why bother trying to convince them otherwise? In a way, you were pregnant with your daughter, just not physically.

  23. You do also get crazy people who insist they’ve met you when you’ve never been to that town/store before (or who insist you are X’s sister when you are an only child, etc.) so sounds like she was one of those people who just KNOWS she’s right.

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