How It Happened

I hadn’t intended to share this. I realize it’s part of the journey and I’m the first to say I was ill-prepared. I’ve never been super quick on my feet but give me a couple of minutes and I can come back with some pretty fantastic (sarcastic, if I may add) replies. I can be quick whited…if I have a minute or two. Does that defy the “quick” part of that statement? Whatever.

I can’t let it go though and while I learned my lesson, I am mildly appalled at the fact that I had the past nearly four years to prepare and I still walked away flabbergasted. Or, perhaps it’s that I didn’t realize people actually had it in them to be so very nosey, crass, and ignorant. Today I stand before you both corrected still slightly flummoxed.

I will add that we have been incredibly blessed to have moved to a part of the country and  province in which multi-racial families are not rare. Where, while not as common as caucasians, it’s not uncommon to be in an environment with people of African decent. And we love it. We are so so very blessed. I feel that it’s how it should be.

It happened at the check-out of a local store. And I will never forget it for as long as I live.  And to say I am more prepared now is an understatement…and to say I’m not fearful of reciprocating some of the crass, curt, invasive questions with a parallel tone would be an understatement. My desire is to set an example both for and in front of my children. Equally as important is to protect them. Specifically protecting Makeda and her story.

I had all three children. We managed to make it to the till unscathed which is, in itself a pretty great accomplishment at the end of the day. I was about to pull out my credit card, relieved we were heading home to countdown the minutes until Daddy walked in the door begin getting supper ready.

Then it happened: the cashier looks (quite dramatically, may I add) at the boys then over to Makeda, then back to the boys, then at Makeda again. She looks over to me, “Well how did that happen?!” (Yeah, you know what I mean.)

Seriously, lady? I actually half chuckled at the insensitivity, tone, dramatic resonance of the question.

Quite proud, protective, honoured to have a daughter with such incredible origins and from such a beautiful country, I maintain complete composure and reply that she is in fact from Ethiopia.

The questions which ensued are enough to make you cry, cringe, crawl under a chair in shame and embarrassment for this poor woman. They included (but are not limited to) whether or not her parents were dead (ummmm, I’m standing right here – likely not dead), why she was adopted (you know, specifically why), how long it took (okay, that one’s pretty common and perhaps passably legit), and why in heaven’s name it could possibly take so ruddy long…oh, and cost so ruddy much. Yes, that’s right “the stupid government and the stupid money grab” I believe were her precise words. The icing on the cake was when a lightbulb went off (yes, that’s right I actually saw it go off as judged by her facial expression) and she said, “Oh yeah, that’s right. You were in here last week right and said you’re getting another one right?!” It was all I could do to ask if she was under the incorrect assumption that my child was an object…not the most incredible of human beings.

How fast do you think one Mama of three can sign her mastercard slip, shove the receipt in her wallet, throw the bag of groceries in the cart, and get the heck out of dodge?

Well, I did it faster.

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5 Responses to How It Happened

  1. Dolores Home says:

    All I can say is wow………
    Enjoy following your blog!

  2. Sarah says:

    Been there. Too many times to count. Sometimes you just have to laugh at people. It gets easier, I promise!

  3. Barb says:

    My favourite, and it just came out one day, was, “My 2nd husband was from Ethiopia.” And walk away…

  4. sharla says:

    It’s always so much easier to think of things to say when you’re not in the situation. The absolute worst is when your kids are right there like what happened to you. I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but even now, many years later, I still sometimes hear things that I have never heard before and am completely unprepared. I have come up with some answers for the common questions, but last week when someone looked at the kids at gymnastics class, looked at me and asked, “2 different husbands?” right in front of them, I was a bit speechless!!!

  5. Katie says:

    OH my gosh. Yuck. Yikes. I can only hope she felt positively embarrassed and ashamed later on when she thought back on the interaction.

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