I had some packages to send, so I packed up the four younger kids and went to the post office. The older boys stayed home, both because they wanted to, and because I actually don't mind not taking them. Although they are well behaved and helpful with the littlest ones, traveling with only four kids makes me feel a bit less conspicuous.
But no matter about that. Today I met Lydia.
Lydia looked to be about four years old. And, unlike my four year old BOY, has no qualms about talking to strangers. And asking them lots and lots of questions.
My entourage arrived at the doors of the post office just ahead of Lydia and her mother. Apparently she had never seen such a sight and she asked her mother, "Why does she have three children and a baby?" Lydia's mortified mother attempted to shush her with a hand gesture, so Lydia turned to me and repeated the question.
I smiled, and said I had these children because God gave them to me.
And then we got in line, about 6th or 7th back, with Lydia and her mother right behind. I hurriedly filled out two customs forms for my overseas boxes and addressed a third envelope to my husband while Lydia's mom scribbled on her things. Lydia sat on the floor with my children and showed off her electronic alphabet toy. And we all inched forward every so often, the kids pushing the stack of boxes along.
Finally we were next in line, but Jenny continued to push the boxes past the "wait" area. I said, "Stop." Lydia thought I was calling her name, and she thought "Stop" a rather odd name, so she questioned me about it. I explained that Jenny was pushing the box too far, so Lydia turned her attention to the box.
"Where is the box going?"
"What's in the box?"
"Why are you sending cookies?"
I told her that my husband, their Daddy, was in Afghanistan, and that they had made these cookies for him. I'm sure she has no idea what or where Afghanistan is, but I see no point in answering four-year-olds with vague "you wouldn't understand" responses. They'll just keep asking anyway.
She asked if Bill was a cook. I guess cooks like cookies more than anybody. Makes sense to me.
She asked if Mary was a boy or a girl.
She continued to express her amazement at how many children I had. She wanted to know if they all had the same parents. I think Lydia's mother just about died with that question.
She wanted to know why I wouldn't let them sprawl all over the floor where people were trying to walk.
The questions continued even after the next available postmistress began weighing my mail. It was a small office, so there was no escaping her interrogation.
Finally, finally, the ordeal was over. I paid and we left. Lydia's poor mother had tried to hush her several times, and I had smiled and told her it was okay. She is four. I have been asked the same things, and worse, by people 5 and 10 and 15 times her age, ones old enough to know better.
And it wasn't Lydia I minded. It was the dozen or more other people in the room, who were thrilled that the little girl was asking the very questions that were in their own minds, who made me very grateful to see the door. Really, when I collected my receipt and the baby and turned around from the counter, I felt like I was center stage and under a hot spotlight.
So much for being inconspicuous.