Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Rude Cashier–Not My Best Day….

As I mentioned earlier today, I had an experience yesterday to share. I’m not proud of the way I handled it, but I’m all for being open and honest here about our journey.  I’ve reacted to rude comments about our family size before but this was probably the very first time the comments struck a nerve related to having a child with medical issues.  Or at least the first time they really ticked me off enough to have a hissy fit over them.  You’ll see what I mean…

So here I was early on Saturday morning at WalMart.  My sweet husband was at home with the 7 children while I grocery shopped.  Sometimes we all go shopping together, but not this day.  I just wanted to get in, shop, and get home.  When you have a family of 9 a grocery trip is pretty big – a very full cart or two.  It’s just a fact of life.  I am nearly finished unloading my groceries onto the conveyor belt when the cashier asks: “Are you having a party or something?”

“No, I just have a lot of children,” was my vague, non-threatening, non-inviting-you-to-snoop-in-my-business reply. 

“How many children do you have?” she asks.

“I have 7,” I say with a cheerful smile.

Here is where things begin to go downhill.  Not that they couldn’t have been salvaged, but I think this lady simply had no filter between what her brain thought and what her mouth said.

“Oh.My.G--. I couldn’t imagine.  I would just kill myself if I had that many children.”  Oh, yes, she did say that.  I was still doing okay at this point.  I kindly pointed out that everyone is different and so is every family.  I figured it would be dropped, but no. It got worse when she opened her mouth again.

“What are you trying to do?  Have as many children as the Duggars?”

Now let me interject something here.  I have actually met the Duggar family and they are sweet, kind, friendly, loving people.  I admire their absolute conviction that children are a blessing from God and fully agree with them.  I also have heard this question before and it doesn’t bother me.  Every family is different.  I don’t think we’ll ever have close to 19 children, or that anyone should have a particular number of children.  1, 2, 7, or 19 – it’s between you, your spouse, and God.  It’s nobody else’s business.  But then this lady kept talking.

“Can you believe her?  She’s got too many children as it is and you know that any more children she has are going to be sick.  We don’t need any more sick children brought into this world.  That’s just irresponsible.”

And right there is where I lost it folks.  So many times during a pregnancy I've said "I don't care what the baby is, just so long as it's healthy." Admit it, you’ve said it too, haven’t you? Then we found out we were having Mason and our hearts and perspective changed.  Now that we have a baby who is not healthy, normal, or typical I see just how limited my view was. We're thrilled to have Mason and it doesn't matter that he brought health issues out of the womb. His life is precious: healthy, sick, or otherwise.  After this woman’s comments I could not remain silent.

“Excuse me, but every child is a blessing and every child deserves to live with a loving family even if they’re sick.  Obviously you wouldn’t be a fit mother, but….” and I went on from there.  For a while. Quite a while. Eventually I came around to these words:

“Do you remember, Ma’am, that I said I have seven children?  That 7th child is a month old today and we knew months before he was born that he was ‘sick’, as you put it.  He has lifelong medical issues.  That doesn’t mean he won’t have a fulfilling, wonderful life – he’s a precious boy and I couldn’t imagine my life without him.  And yes, I hope to have more children, because every child is a blessing from God.”

The cashier didn’t say anything as she finished ringing up my order.  She handed me my receipt with a subdued “Have a nice day ma’am.”  To which I answered:

“I will.  I’m going to go home and enjoy all my children.”

*   *   *   *   *   *

So, as you can see, I didn’t handle that as well as I should have, but I couldn’t just remain silent.  Her words struck a nerve in my heart.  How can someone say a child does not deserve to be born if it is not going to be perfectly normal and healthy?  And yet I know the words she said only reflect the culture at large.  Children are not valued today as it is - but a child who is sick, disabled, or anything other than normal is seen as a burden to be avoided at all costs. 

I am ever so grateful for the knowledge that God doesn’t make mistakes when He is knitting together these little bodies in the womb.  Mason is just one example of this beautiful truth.  Why can’t people see that?


  1. Tristan, it sounds to me like you basically bore your testimony! I think you did fine.....more of us need to be more like you and the Duggars. You have taught me a priceless truth, you said sometime before Mason was born that EVERY child born no matter when, how or where (or something to that meaning) WERE A BLESSING FROM GOD!!! I love children, babies etc and would have so many more if my body would have cooperated. However, I think I did hold out a slight reservation and kept my mouth quiet so as not to create a contentious situation. But I am stepping up to the plate and following your example! Thank you for speaking truth! Our world needs more like you!
    I am so glad that Mason is doing so well and is so loved. And thanks also for sharing the "daily bread" article from the January Ensign just before Mason's birth. I just saw your comment and suggestion for Rachel to read it. Like I said, thanks!!! I truly appreciate your faith, testimonly and example!

  2. I'm so sorry! I can imagine anyone having handled that better though. Sometimes people just need to have wiser women knock some sense into them. Hopefully next timeshe will think twice before she vomits forth such nonsense.

  3. I would have regretted saying something as well, but I think maybe it needed to be said. She obviously has a lot of growing up to do - in regards to realizing that not everyone has the same beliefs as her, that every family is different, etc. Perhaps you speaking up opened her eyes a little.

  4. Oooo...You go girl. You sound like a Mama Grizzly!!!

  5. I don't think you said anything wrong, Tristan! You and Jason are amazing parents and have such beautiful, sweet children. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to have you as friends. We always thought we'd end up with more kids - and we still hope we do! - but it just hasn't happened yet. But we are so grateful for the ones we have and believe that children (with or without perfect earthly bodies - are indeed a true blessing and gift from God - and you can't have too many blessings. ;)

  6. Good for you! I think I would have just went home super angry because I would have been too scared to speak up against her. She probably needed to hear your words! Although maybe if I was in your situation with a sweet baby who deserves to be born just as much as a healthy baby, maybe I would speak up. I get so many rude comments like that too, and I only have 4 kids! So so sad that the world looks down on children so much.

  7. You did the right thing and gave her a piece from your mind.

    In my opinion, people like her (and the cultural at large) are just jealous. They are jealous that you can have all the joy that comes from raising 7 children. Yep, JEALOUS. People don't admit it, but that's what they really are saying when they spew those nasty comments about how they would "kill" themselves if they had that many children. They know they would really love to have 7 other people in their lives to love and to be loved by, but they know they lack the self-discipline to set a good a example for children to turn out good and not a burden to them and to society, they know they lack the work ethic it requires to get up off their lazy you know what and do all that things that are required to raise 7 children. They know they lack the patience it requires to speak kindly to a tender toddler crying all night. They lack the faith in God that He will provide for everything if it so be that His will is done and not theirs. I could go on and on, but the bottom line it that they are plain jealous. Therefore, they attempt to steal some of your happiness by attempting to device this awful lie that children (healthy or with medical issues) are the problem, when all along its their lack of virtues that is the problem.

  8. Complain!!! Email Walmart and complain!!! I have done this about their cashiers before and Walmart will kiss your butt to make up for it! They don't get paid to give their point of views on your life they get paid to ring up your items. Keep your receipt so they can figure out which cashier it was also. But definitely complain! And I would have done the same thing! All mama grizzly's come out when it comes to our kids especially special needs!

  9. We get comments all the time about the size of our family. The part that appalls me is that cashiers think saying things like that in front of the kids is okay. I understand your feelings that you could have spoken more gently or phrased your lesson better, but I also really understand how you were pushed to the breaking point, and your reaction was quite reasonable. The Savior pushing over the moneychanger's tables in the temple comes to mind; he was mostly gentle, but when properly provoked he was angry! I think your reaction falls in that category. You are a good woman.

  10. People just don't stop and think when they open their mouths. They say horrible, hurtful things without even realizing it. It seems that Walmart is one of the worst places for it. so many times people have said hurtful things to me about the size of my family and with the children standing right there. I don't think you did anything wrong at all, and hopefully she will think before she speaks to somebody else or even change her own perspective.

  11. WOW...I cannot imagine the thoughts going through your mind at that checkout line, people do not ever really think about things they say, children have no value today like they used to as you mentioned and when people have more then children then what is "normal" people think we are some kind of loon I guess. I only have 4, 1 girl with 3 boys...I get some interesting comments also in the check-out lines at many stores, even odd looks when I take my children to the library. I also get asked if I am having any more children and I usually say nothing because its no ones business, and if I do I say its between me and my spouse. I would have most likely done the same thing you did, Mason is precious and until you have walked that walk in life people should not judge. Your a wonderful Mom Tristan, I wish your family the best(: Blessings Kris

  12. I would have loved to be the person standing in line behind you.

    Great job sharing your testimony and don't sweat how it came out.

  13. bravo!!! You are such a wonderful person. You handled that very nicely

  14. Hi! I don't know if you remember me from Moundbuilders Ward or not, but I've got 2 little boys now with special needs. I would have done what you did! I mean, if you don't say it, who is going to? Maybe you changed this woman's mind today...maybe she will change how she views people with disabilities now and treat them better. But we don't do our kids any service if we're quiet when people say uneducated things like that. Our children are gifts from God and they have special missions here. I guess this is an area where I'm particularly sensitive, as Mark & I know before we even conceived that any children we had would have a 50% chance of inheriting my rare disorder. People have definitely made comments, but we are confident in our decision and so grateful to have our boys! :-)

  15. Go Tristan! I am proud of you. I have 5 children, 1 with very severe special needs. I know how you feel. I also know that people would think I was crazy if they knew I am trying to have another baby. I agree with you 100%. EVERY child is a blessing. And the "sick" kids are usually the sweetest and most loving.

  16. Sorry to hear how people handle large families and ill children. It is the result of today's society. I am an only child and when people say they are only having one child, boy do I get on my soapbox. I give it to them straight how life alone isn't all it's cut out to be. I understand something hitting a nerve. You said your peace. Sometimes people need to hear what is really the truth. The truth has been muddled by our society that people don't know anymore. They need to be reminded. sigh
    BTW, I had four wonderful sons. Even just with four we get the looks when we are all together.

  17. Oh Tristan, I'm just sorry she said anything to you at all! I hate that for you! But, you know, I think sometimes the right thing to do IS to speak up! Sometimes people need to hear from another perspective...she was likely so caught up in her little world that it never crossed her mind that someone could be HAPPY with a big family!! You gave her something to think about and have opened her eyes to how each family is unique. I pray that your words touched a place in her heart and that she won't look at children so negatively anymore!!

  18. My first thought was, "Of course you'd feel that way, living on a walmart paycheck." I know that road way too well. Hopefully that cashier realized that children are blessings.

  19. Thanks for sharing! I wanted to have a houseful of kids. When my first one was born I decided I would NOT have any more. She has all sorts of "problems". I didn't want to go through that again. I did finally have another and wish I had at least one more. I have heard many horrible comments about what should be done with kids with special needs. I have grown very thick skin in the last ten years, but there are times when it is VERY hard to bite my tongue!

  20. I don't think that was a mean response at all!! If she's bold enough to say (in a matter of words) that you shouldn't have that many children, then she should be able to hear your reply!! I think it was a good reply!

  21. Wooo!!! She was totally asking for that one! LOL!

    I say, "Well done." You tried to politely drop the subject several times, so I don't blame you for giving it to her with both guns blaring. Good for you.


  22. God bless you and your wonderful 7 children. I wanted more than 3 and prayed, but God did not fill that dream back then, but today I have 8 wonderful Grandchildren, and I feel so blessed to be their Grandmother. I am thankful that God gave me three amazing children to love, and that all three of them love the Lord and are bringing their children up to live as Christians. God is a great God, and HIS mercy is far beyond anyone can imagine. Never be ashamed of the gospel, and always stand up for you and your family. It is your God given right.


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