Just Treatment

Scenario 1: At a church women’s function there’s an activity where we have to find the oldest and youngest ladies at each table, and then from those ladies, we have to figure out the oldest and youngest in the room. When we identified the oldest lady, she stood up and announced, “Yes, I’m [somewhere in my 70s]. And I have 25 grandchildren to prove it.”

Scenario 2: In hundreds of conversations I’ve had with different people, this happens:
Me: So, do you have siblings?
Other person: Yeah, I have [at least four] brothers and sisters. What about you?
Me: Yeah, I have a younger brother.
Other person: So it’s just the two of you?

HOLY COW, PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION. Yes, families are uber-central to our (Mormon) society and culture, and I know that children become our world once we have them, like how my parents focused on mine and Frank’s happiness as they raised us; how even my brother and I looked out for each other when we were kids, and we are probably more protective now.

It’s not “just” the two of us. There are two of us, and we’re awesome.

Reilly and I have been talking about when we’d like to have kids. Are we going to have “just” three, or “just” two, or “just” one? What if we end up only having one? “Just” one sounds like a disgrace, a failure, an implied incompetence. If we have one child, he or she will be awesome. If we have more, they’ll be awesome, too.

What if I can’t biologically have children? Are we going to “just” adopt, as if it’s a lesser alternative? As if parents use an inferior stash of love for children they couldn’t physically give birth to? Do these parents tell their kids that they’re “just” adopted? Will other kids tell my kid(s) “So, there’s ‘just’ one of you” or “So you’re ‘just’ adopted?”

BLEEP NO. You don’t win all the contests, because THERE ARE NO CONTESTS.

Sometimes people don’t even realize what they’re saying. And maybe I could be less annoyed. But should I be less sensitive when it comes to my family and my potential family? Are you really going to sit back and take it when I say that you have “just” a boy or “just” a girl or “just” twins or they got “just” Bs on their report cards? First, you know I wouldn’t think those thoughts, let alone say them. Secondly, you would defend your children if someone made these statements, because you love your children, and they’re awesome. That’s all it takes.

Think about what you’re saying. Think about the implied devaluing and belittling in that one little word. Be mindful of the context in which you use it. Make an effort to stop using it in the situations I’ve mentioned here.

Just stop.

My New Best Friend

Today. Sunday School. I sat by some good friends. A man and his wife and their baby girl, maybe 15-16 months old. The wife and the husband took turns going out with the wee one to feed or quiet the baby. The baby kind of knows me. Which means she doesn’t squeal or try to hide when she sees me. We spent a good bit of time together Christmas Eve 2007 as well as this past Christmas Eve. I went to her home last weekend to watch the Superbowl. She danced that cute-bouncy-baby dance while people played Guitar Hero on the widescreen television. Whenever I see her, her mom tells her to say hi. But, she’s always just looked at me briefly then gone back to whatever she was doing, which was usually flipping through a peekaboo book or gnawing on a cracker. So, today in Sunday school, I was sitting next to the mom while the dad was out with the baby. The dad brought the baby back, and the baby said quite happily, “Hi, Mom!” I smiled. Then just a second later, the baby said in a similarly cheery tone, “Hi, May!” The mom looked at me and I looked at her, really shocked. Then the dad looked at me and I looked at him, and I stifled a very thrilled laugh. I put my hand to my chest to let the mom know how touched I was. Because we were still in Sunday School. And no one would care that a baby said hi to me. Then the mom said, “She’s never said that before.” And I said, “Really?” Then I couldn’t stop smiling. And I can’t stop smiling. She’s totally going to be my maid of honor. At the rate things are going with dating in my life, she’ll be old enough for those duties when it’s time for me to get married. I thank her in advance.