Okay, so I am not sure how to write this post without seeming either ungrateful or like I am bragging. See, my kids, being both Asian and Caucasian, tend to attract attention. In Japan, people think they look American, and in the US, people think they look Japanese. Since I look at them all the time, I pretty much just think they look like Sky, Pink P, and Stow, but apparently, they are worth starting at. They also seem to elicit unnecessary comments from complete strangers. On a recent airplane trip with Stow, I was reminded of some of the things people say that leave me speechless.
1) He should be a model.
I seriously don't know how to take a comment like this. For some reason random strangers seem to think that both Sky and Stow should be modeling clothes in a catalog somewhere. I suppose I should take this as a compliment, but it actually just feels like a lot of unnecessary pressure. Suddenly I find myself worrying about whether I am wasting their hidden talents by not hiring an agent and ushering them into a bevy of commercials. Then I realize that I probably don't want to be mom to a child star wash out. Somewhere in the middle of these two thoughts, I remember that I will always be a poor academic and for a few brief moments my head is filled with stars and diamonds. In the end, it just reminds me that our culture is obsessed with how we look and not with who we are. And then I feel bad because my kids will never be as perfect as they seem to look. Am I overthinking things? Probably, but it's pretty weird to have someone tell you your kid could be a model. I never have figured out the appropriate response. Is it "Thanks," or should I say, "Will you be his agent?"
2) What a well-behaved baby!
Again, a compliment surrounded by all sorts of land mines. This one implies that I have some sort of control over how my baby is going to act. Since I don't, I can't even accept the compliment in good conscience. And since my mom always told me to be a gracious recipient of kind words, I am usually flummoxed when I try to think of a way to respond. Do I tell the complete stranger the baby's entire sleeping and eating history so that they realize he's well-behaved because he is currently content, or do I pretend I don't hear and walk away?
As parents, it doesn't take long to figure out that we really have very little control over the behavior of our children. Sure, we can discipline them and train them to behave appropriately in various situations, but they are still (and always will be) individuals with their own ideas about how things should go. This is of course much more obvious to those of us with kids on the spectrum. I'm pretty much thankful on a minute-by-minute basis when any of the kids are behaving appropriately, so I'd rather believe that others are not watching and judging me like that.
3) Where is he from?
More than once I have had complete strangers inquire about the origins of my children. The first time I got the question, I couldn't figure out what the woman meant. Apparently, a white woman with a less white, slightly Asian-looking child tricks people into thinking the child has been adopted from a foreign country. I'm not sure how or why this is the first, most logical conclusion, but then again, we've already established that people will ask dumb questions when they can't quite figure out what they are seeing. Each time I get a question about where my kids are from, I have to resist the urge to explain the birds and the bees. I also have to throw the emergency brake on my sarcasm because I can think of all sorts of awesome responses to that question that should not be uttered in public.