So I decided it would make a good post. I'll warn you up front - not all of the responses have been ladylike. Sometimes my lack of patience is plainly evident. Some are humorous, and I do have a very strong sarcastic streak in me, but some of them, especially with regard to our beliefs are fairly good (and not sarcastic) answers.
Keep in mind that all answers are dependent on who is asking the question and why. Some people are genuinely interested, some people are nosey, and some people are just plain rude. Others will get instantly offended when you answer a question with something along the lines of, "Because we feel this is what is best for our children.", and some professing Christians will get more than a little offended if you tell them you're trying to follow God's direction with regard to how you raise/educate your children. The minute someone else, particulary another women, gets the idea that you feel a mother should stay at home with her kids (whether or not you actually said that) the battle lines are drawn. It is my expierence that with some people it is a no-win situation. They will get offended at the most obscure comment, or try to keep questioning you until you do say something they object to. I like to be as honest as I can with my answers (well, sometimes - like when I'm fairly sure they aren't just trying to be crass), but I also try to word things as non-controversially as possible. There are times though, that you just have to chalk the whole thing up to not casting your pearls before swine. Some of the answers were reserved for family members - as far as I'm concerned it's pretty much no-holds-barred with them. They've known me my whole life. If they are going to ask me stupid questions, well... I will answer them properly when I feel the joke episode has come to an end.
1) Do (Don't) you know what causes that?
This is never asked seriously. It's rude. Period. No - it's never funny. Okay - maybe I'm just a bit touchy about this. Uhhh, on second thought, no I'm not. It's crass. This never warrents a real answer and to be honest, I usually tried to ignore it. Unless you were related.
Sometimes the sarcastic part of me took over and I'd say, "Well I'm not sure, but I think there's something in the water.", or "I don't know, but I think it's contagious."
2) You should get that fixed.
Yeah - everything I said about the first question applies to this comment as well.
Again, it was often ignored, but I have answered with, "Ummmm, it doesn't appear to be broken.", or "Everything seems to work just fine."
3) Are they all yours?
This one can be fun. Some answers:
"Ummm, I think so.", or "Only the girls." (This one usually has them looking around.)
4) Are you trying for a boy?
Well intentioned or not, this question never fails to grate on my nerves. It insinuates the girls aren't good enough and even if that wasn't the questioner's intent, I always felt as though the girls could potentially take it that way. Ask them now and they'll admit they did feel that way occasionally when we were asked the question. Some answers:
"Of course not.", "What for?", "No - in fact we're hoping for another girl.", "We're trying to set the world's record for the most girls one family can have in a row.", "No - we're just trying for babies.", and my all time favorite, "No, I'm trying for one with green eyes." To understand this one better it helps to know that I was expecting T.Lynn (our youngest) and my husband, and all four of the other girls have varying shades of blue, blue/grey eyes. I have hazel, but not the kind with brown in them. They are a funny, changeable green/greenish-blue, and although they only occasionally look true blue in person (or so I'm told), in pictures they often look very blue. Because of this, I wasn't expecting to have a child with green eyes anymore than I was expecting a boy. Maybe my weird hazel, but not green. Never fear though, poetic justice is always right around the corner. T.Lynn has green eyes. Not blueish green, or changeable, or anything else. Just green. You gotta love it!
5) You have FIVE kids???
Really - with the way some people say it you'd think I had forty or fifty. Of course a lot of people just start counting. Some stop and start over repeatedly, on occasion never getting past two. And most of the time the kids aren't even moving around, confusing the counter. Once they were all lined up on an elevator and then I only had four.
I ususally cut to the chase when I see/hear someone counting and just tell them five. That's when I get the above question.
*Ri here. Sometimes when people start counting us, some of us have a nearly overwhelming desire to start moving around and darting behind each other. We've never actually done that, but that desire is there nonetheless!
Or any variation of that theme - All girls? Only girls? No boys?
I would really love to start looking around, muttering something like, "They were just here....", but so far I've restrained myself. The girls will admit to wanting to say, "Do you see any boys?", or "Yeah. We have boys, but we don't like to let them out of the house.", so they've also restrained themselves admirably. We usually just sigh out a, "Yes, all girls.", or "No boys."
7) Oh, you must be so patient.
No I'm not. The girls are old enough now to either snicker, shake their heads, or come right out and say, "No she's not.", or "Her??" Sometimes I'll take the time to explain that I'm not particularly gifted with patience, but that my mother used to say she had made sure she raised us in such a manner that she would be able to enjoy spending time with us, and that I had done my best to do the same with my own children. At other times, particularly if the person saying it was asking advice because she assumed I was patient, I would explain that part of the reason my children were reasonably well behaved was not because I was patient, but because I was intolerant of annoying behavior. For example, I really dislike whinning and squealing, so I didn't let my kids whine or squeal. I wasn't patient with it, I just didn't allow it. I would often go on to explain, not how to be patient (except with the fact that it would take a bit longer to correct a bad habit than to set a good one to begin with), but how to correct whatever problem they were having.
8) How do you do it?
Often this is a rhetorical question. When it is I'll say something along the lines of, "I don't.", or "You just do it.", but occasionally it's legitimate and then I explain that I'm not supermom. I just keep doing what need's to be done; crossing things off my list or moving them on to the next day, or week. I'll often explain that there's no way I can do it all. I have to train the girls to help and then I spend a good deal of my time delegating and following up. I've also told people that with God all things are possible. (No - I wasn't joking.)
9) How do you manage them all?
"With a whip and a chair!!", or "Good 'ol fashioned military training." No joking here, I've really said that, but all kidding aside, when this question is sincere I usually use the same answer with regard to my mom and training them in such a manner that I'll be able to enjoy being around them. I've also said, "With a lot of prayer."
10) Why so many? (This has a few different variations as well.)
"Because we love children." "Because we feel children are a blessing from God."
11) Are you Mormon? (Or Amish, Mennonite, etc.)
No - We are Christians.
As I said before, that doesn't seem to help some people and they'll go on to ask, "Well, what are you?" Some people start off asking that. You wouldn't believe all the potential answers that bounce around in my head when people ask me what we are. (Ummmm - human? or That's classified.) Of course some of them just ask what denomination we are. It all usually boils down to me explaining that we would be considered fairly conservative Christians and that we attend a family integrated church. Then I usually have to explain what a family integrated church is.
11) Why do you wear dresses?
We do believe you should dress modestly. We don't believe you absolutely have to wear dresses (as in, we don't believe it's a sin for women to wear pants), but we do feel that dresses are the best answer to dressing modestly and femininely. Sometimes I answer by stating simply that we wear dresses to be modest and as a way of honoring the differences God has created between men and women.
12) Why do you practice courtship?
We won't go into all the, "That's crazy." comments we get on this one. There isn't enough time in the day, and I usually ignore them. Ri's biggest problem is with all the comments about her not being able to think on her own because they feel practicing courtship means I, or my husband will try to control her life/marriage. She has taken to telling people they'll have to come up with a more original question/comment if they expect her to answer it.
We feel it's important for a young couple to focus on their future lives together, to take time to really get to know one another without getting sidetracked with a lot of the stuff that normally goes on during casual dating, and we want to maintain purity.
You have to remember here; Ri and he are both adults. They are willingly submitting to this.
13) Do you have to (wear dresses, practice courtship, not wear makeup, have long hair, have lots of babies, homeschool, etc.), because of your religion?
No. These are personal convictions of ours. Well, most of them anyway. We don't all have long hair - not the type where it's never cut. All of us keep our hair cut to whatever length we currently want it, but we do prefer them to at least have it down to their shoulders. We do wear makeup - when we want to anyway. If you're asking if we believe in birth control, that depends. We do believe you should welcome children into your lives, but we also believe you should use common sense. Sometimes refraining from having children for awhile (possibly for health issues) could be a good idea, but we would use natural family planning. I wouldn't use the pill or any other device/medication.
1) Is it legal? (You can do that?)
2) Don't you have to be certified?
3) How do you do it? (Is there something you have to do to teach them at home?)
I explain our state's requirements.
4) Why do you homeschool?
Depending on the person asking this, it can be a long or short answer.
We feel God tells his people that they are responsible for teaching their children about the things of God continually (Deut. 6:6-7), and that the best way to achieve that is to homeschool them. Public school not only doesn't teach about God, but by teaching from an evolutionist's standpoint it goes directly against what God teaches us. Then there's all the garbage that goes on in school. I don't think it's a good environment for children at all. I am responsible for teaching my children about God. Trying to find someone who'll do that for me isn't really embracing my responsibilities.
5) What about socialization?
"They're girls - what makes you think they'd have any problem socializing? They talk to everyone!"
"Are you kidding? If they knew my social security number so would half the county."
"Well, we let them out of the house/off the compound every great once in awile."
Then there are the times the girls mention something about a popular singer, book, or movie and their peers will say something like, "You know about that/them?" To that, my girls have gotten to where they say, "Yeah. Every so often something drifts into the bubble we live in." Then again, sometimes they beg and plead for someone to come up with something original to say.
When we're being serious, which I have to admit isn't often with regard to this question, we'll explain that having them around all kinds of people, in every situation, from every socio-economic background, and of all ages, is a much more normal form of socialization than being stuck in a classroom with 25-35 other kids of the same age all day long. And it is.
Okay - I know that's long. There were some serious answers and some not so serious answers, but I hope you enjoyed it.