(image credit at bottom of post)
I am not a bumper sticker person. I mean, occasionally I enjoy the rare well-worded, witty sticker humoring me on the back of a car at a red light; but for the most part, I avoid car decor that says more about us than "We vacationed in Maine" or "We know what Mako's Water Taxi is" (which means we have family in Homer, Alaska).
Even if it's a cause I firmly believe in or a group I whole-heartedly embrace, I shy away from accepting even a free sticker and conveniently lose it before it can be affixed to any bumpers.
Maybe it's because I'm too judgmental and I figure everyone else is, too. I immediately pigeonhole the driver of the bumper-stickered vehicle. For instance, in the above "guardian angel" example, the driver fits into the "irritating wishy-washy-watered-down-theology-if-any-at-all woman" category. (Because of course it's a woman. I mean, the sticker is pink, and who knows any guys that would publicize the word "angel" without referring to a Harley?) The more I look at the sticker, the more irritated I get. Why are Guardian and Angel capitalized? How are "guardian angels" different than regular angels? Angels have a flying speed limit? AARGGH! And if it's a long red light and then the light turns green and we happen to turn into the same shopping center and park right next to each other and I see her face, there is absolutely no way we will end up in the same checkout lane. The thought of having to watch her flip through inspirational women's magazines while she waits and then see her pull out her "What's Missing in Ch___ch? UR!" pen to sign her "God Answers Knee-Mail" check in her leather "Fireproof" checkbook . . . I don't think I could remain civil!!
See what I mean? Now, I don't personally know of anyone who owns this bumper sticker, so I'm not talking about anyone in particular, so this is not meant to offend YOU personally, but . . . if you happen to own this bumper sticker, you are probably offended. You are probably nothing like what I described (or you are exactly like what I described and are confused about why I would be annoyed).
And I don't want to be stereotyped like that. I don't want your presuppositions of what such-and-such a person is like to taint your notion of me. I don't want to enter into a conversation (or a checkout line) with you and have you distort whatever I'm doing or saying to fit your incorrectly constructed niche.
Which leads me to the point of this post (you wanna talk about rabbit-trails?).
A multitude of siblings has the same effect as a large-print bumper sticker. Large families, especially ones where the children are not conveniently spaced so as to be mistaken for aunts or uncles or parents or baby-sitters, etc., are easy prey for pigeonholing. If you add in to the mix that you homeschool and the father is a pastor, well. You might as well just forgo all makeup, women's haircuts, and non-denim clothing. People instantly fit your family in with every other "religious" large family they can imagine. They avoid eye contact, so as not to catch your rampant fertility or be proselytized into renouncing seminaries and embracing the home church community.
Or the opposite happens. A "quiverfull," split-ended, jumpers-only, clip-on ties even to Walmart, home-churching, seminary-bashing, cloth-diapering-because-it's-godly, homemade-lip-balm-only-if-it's-not-tinted-and-your-lips-are-bleeding family makes a bee-line over to you to ask if you, too, make your own yogurt and grind your own wheat. And you want to say NO but have to say yes but OF COURSE qualify that by saying that you have been doing this since before half of your children were born and it's really more of a hobby than a conviction and really you DON'T think your wearing of capri pants has any kind of negative impact on the spread of the gospel and the last four kids' names are "Oops," "Oops Again," "No Way" and "Are You Kidding Me" and, oh, yeah, MY HUSBAND'S A SEMINARY GRAD AND WE BELIEVE IN ORDINATION!!
That usually stops them cold.
All of this is to say, we've been pondering how to handle outings with our family, especially since another set of twins is on the way. It's not realistic nor healthy to expect that we will stay home all the time. We will not. None of us would survive that. So how do we plan to do family outings but avoid the inevitable spectacle?
It came to my husband and me in the van as waited for the crossing guard to drop her stop sign so we could continue. Like a ray of sunshine, it was.
We are going to have the children wear all of the same T-shirts. The same color, the same design. My husband and I will wear matching blue polo shirts with "Mr. Ethan" embroidered on his and "Ms. Rachel" on mine. I know, I know, so far you're thinking we are not deviating too far from the conventional stereotype.
Here is where we swerve. Ready?
The children are each wearing a bright yellow T-shirt with a large black-outlined sun on it. Inside the sun are the words, "Sunshine Day Care."
See? In an instant, all comments about "Your own reality show," "Are these all yours?" and "Are you mormon? catholic? on fertility drugs? insane?" are OUT THE WINDOW. Gone. In a flash! If we can just teach the kids to walk single-file. . . not talk incessantly about their latest Mystery of History lesson . . . occasionally pretend like they are happy to be together in public . . . and get the babies to use the codeword "bottle" when they want to nurse . . . I think it could work!
***But just as insurance, I am getting a salon haircut (SHOCK!) tomorrow and my EYEBROWS waxed!***