things I don't need to hear from strangers at Target

"Wow, you have your hands full" (#1)

"Are those all yours?"

"Are they siblings?"

"Wow, you have your hands full" (#2)

"You are brave to even leave your house"

"Were did you get those two?"

Wow, you have your hands full" (#3)

"You know, my sister was a missionary in Africa. The Natives weren't very friendly to them"

"Wow , you have your hands full" (#4)

"Oh my GOSH you have your hands full" (#5)

Not helpful, people. Not helpful.

And while I'm ranting - mom of only children: how about NOT swiping the rare big carts that seat multiple kids while you shop with your ONE CHILD, so moms like me get to pile all her kids into a regular cart.

Thank you. That is all.


  1. all the well meaning people should say : "would you like to sit down while I shop for you??"

  2. If I saw you at Target, I would probably tell you how incredibly beautiful your family is. :)

  3. Anonymous3:57 PM

    While grocery shopping with my foster daughter (who does not look like me) an older man walking by gives me a pained look, and says "babysitting?" Unfortunately, I can never think of anything smart to say in the moment! ~Jennifer

  4. Chelsea4:19 PM

    I will never understand why people think it is any of there business! Why even comment? It is rude. I would NEVER, NEVER ask or say anything to a stranger in a store unless they said something to me first and even then I wouldn't say something totally out of line like "are they all yours?" because, DUH they probably are!!! Ugh...this bothers me a lot, obviously. I'm sure you were gracious and answered their questions but I know I would have a hard time not telling them off after the 4th or 5th time!

  5. Anonymous4:19 PM

    One of my four children is Asian (the others though also adopted tend to "blend in" more in the eyes of strangers)and I can see her hurt eyes at comments like these that single her out. How does the answer affect the questioner other than to satisfy their curiousity? I too wonder how to best educate while protecting my children from the often unintended hurt these curious questions inflict. It's difficult being a visibly "different" family in public.

  6. I'd so much rather hear the you have your hands full comment than any of the other wildly inappropriate comments people like to throw at my family.

    And I think I give vicious, don't-even-think-about-it looks to anyone who looks like they might take that two-kid cart for their one tiny child. I don't really mean to, it just happens.

  7. Anonymous4:23 PM


    I started following your blog during the earthquake. God bless you and your family!
    Trudy in MS 2+twins

  8. Oh Man, that strikes a cord with me! Let me tell you... I had three kids in three years, and the:

    "Wow, you have your hands full" comment would just floor me every time!!!!

    Really? You think? Seriously??? 'Wow, you have exceptional observational skills, thanks for sharing' would always pop into my head...

    It does get better. My kids are teens now; and while they were not adopted and do look like me - I now get the: "These aren't YOUR kids are they??" comments... or just the un-approving you look to young to have teens look... Ugh!

    Seriously, people - Didn't your Momma ever tell you - "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    Just keep your sense of humor, and ALL we be well, cause darn it those kids are so stinkin' cute that all those STUPID people just fade in comparison!

  9. Yes, I can totally relate. SO ANNOYING!!!

  10. I get the hands full comment frequently as well. I also get "you must be really busy" to which I reply "yes but it's a good kind of busy". I've also gotten the occassional "you know what causes this, don't you?" (There are three years between my youngest and oldest.) I always have a chuckle on that one because what "caused" this was a mountain of paperwork, many miles of foreign travel, immigration and embassy appointments and lots of waiting. Why are people so nosy?

  11. my favorite by far- "where did you get those two?"

    full hands, full heart. sheesh!

  12. Although I don't pray, I have been holding Ronel and your family close in my heart these past few days. As an adoptive Mom in a multiracial family, I have heard some outrageous comments myself, and have heard some crazy-good responses that other adoptive Moms have shared. A couple of my favorites (never spoken aloud to "the snoops" but held in my heart for strength): Snoop says: "Is their father black?" Mom replies: "I don't know. It was dark and I was drunk." Snoop says: "Where did you get them? How much did it [they] cost?" Mom replies: "How did you get pregnant? Did you give birth vaginally or by C-section? How much was the hospital bill?" Sorry if I offend anyone, but honestly, it helps me deal with the rude snoops if I have a couple of choice responses in my back pocket... And usually, I try to be generous enough to ask if the person has a personal interest in adoption so I can sort out the people who might have a real interest from those who are simply rude-ignorant-obnoxious-racist-snoops.

    Come home soon, Ronel. There are lots of good, kind, loving, non-snoops who will love you right up.

  13. I just love reading about your happy family.

    If they say you have your hands full, try saying, yes but my heart is full too. It catches them off guard.

    Sometimes strangers say dumb things without thinking and it just drives you nuts!

  14. You are too cute! Yep...I get that one all the time and I guess it's only about to get worse when we bring our next one home!!!

  15. interesting... because as a person without kids, i can totally see myself saying "you have your hands full" as a way of striking up conversation saying "i see you". i'm not sure i have ever really said it, but now i know not to!

  16. Ahhh, I think that is one of my biggest pet peeves! I totally get the "you have your hands full" and I only have two! Maybe because mine are just two years apart, who knows? I know people mean well, but sometimes I feel like they are saying "you look like you need help", but really, if I needed help, I'd ask! So when people give me the hands full line, I usually say, "yes and I love it!" with extra, extra enthusiasm :)

  17. Just read Troy's tweet saying he saw Ernest and Ronel on the tarmac. I'm crying (the good kind) - hoping they fly home on golden wings of love. You both fought the good fight - blessings on your growing family. (Wait til the snoops at Target see you coming now!)

  18. ever heard of a polite smile people? "where did you get those two"...for real? wow. and i've long thought "you sure have your hands full" was code for "i'm so glad i'm not you". i hear it alot and most of my kids don't need to be keeping my hands full anymore. but they do.

    well done you for braving target and overcoming the ignorance of strangers.

  19. Oh yes, everyone has something to say. People ask things without regard for how children feel about these questions and comments.

    I'm raising biracial sons and don't want to respond rudely to someone's questions because my sons are listening. I really like Donna Jackson Nakazawa's book Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?: A Parent's Guide To Raising Multiracial Children. The book gives advice to parents and children on how to deal with certain situations. The topics and advice are age-appropriate. Good comebacks that don't come across as rude. I tell my sons repeatedly that differences are great!

    My mom and mother-in-law say that people are often just making conversation and do not mean any harm. I don't disagree, but it doesn't make the questions or comments any less painful for a child to hear over and over.

  20. Jessica6:54 PM

    For anyone who might need a practical resource to help children answer questions (intrusive or otherwise) regarding their adoption, check out the W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook.

    Gives kids (and parents) responses and options to have in their back pocket for those moments.

    Language and just minor changes in the words we use are so important. An example, "Is she/he adopted"?..."Yes, WE're an adoptive family". Takes the focuse solely off the child.

    I gotta say I love the response asking the person whether or not they gave birth vaginally and how much their hospital bill was...hilarious.

  21. please tell me you are joking and someone really didn't ask you, "where did you get those two"? WOW, the nerve some people have! you should have told them in aisle 4 and went about your shopping. :) your family is beautiful!!

  22. Target is THE place for these questions. Just today I got the "Where did he come from?" question.

    Also at Target, a woman very helpfully pointed out that my oldest (who is my biological child) looks more like me than does my youngest (who joined our family through adoption and is African American). And then said -- and I am totally serious here -- "It's the eyes I think. Yes, the older one has your eyes."

  23. You had me laughing out loud. I have a 7 year old boy, 5 year old boy twins and a 3 year old girl and when they were 4,2,2,1 ALL I EVER heard was "WOW you have your hands full." My favorite is when they precede to try to carry on a conversation with you as if you have all the time in the world!!! I'm with you on the cart thing . . . . we lived in Utah for 3 years and because of all the large Mormon famiies the stores were LOADED with those. I was in heaven!! Thanks for the great laugh!! Cheers to you for heading out with them all . . . it's just what you do isn't it??!! I've just started following your blog since the earthquake (found it through Joys Hope) and have really been praying for your family, your transitions, and all the other adopted families!!

  24. Anonymous7:33 PM

    My best friend has 4 children, I only have two....But we talk, daily. People say this to her....We have talked at length about how we might encourage young moms when we are older, and our kids are older....What kind, nice thing could we say if we see someone with several children at the store?..... :-)

  25. I have seven children- the oldest five are all within about seven years of each other. HEre are some of the things I said to people who used the "MY, You sure have your hands full" line:

    Yes, but many hands make light work.

    Yes, so it sure is a good thing I have so many helpers!

    Yes! The more the merrier!!

    And sometimes, just for kicks and giggles, I wanted to answer "ARe they all yours?" by counting and then faking a panic attack and yelling, "Oh my gosh, no, Who stole the other four children?"

    Seriously, though, I started asking "all they all yours?" myself, because so often when I compliment a mother on her beautiful family I get rebuffed and told, "These aren't all mine! I'm babysitting! I wouldn't be crazy enough to have this many!" Now I ask first, and when I learn they ARE all in one family, I follow up with a compliment.

  26. Anonymous7:45 PM

    I would buy Trudy's t-shirt! Why do these people ask the same questions? Mine are 5, 3, and 1 year old twins. When I get the "are they identical" question I want to say "He would be highly offended if you asked that after you looked under his diaper!

  27. Hahahaha! I've totally been there (and with only two!) Thanks for making me smile!

  28. perfect! when we had our fifth baby and my huband would bring the others to the hospital he was hating all the nurses with the "you have your hands full comments" and as far as the grocery store carts...ugh..people don't realize you physically cannot shop without one when you have several small children!

  29. Once had a waitress at a Chinese restaurant asking ages (to know how much to charge on the buffet). Andrew (Caucasian) and Marah (Haitian) are both ten. With all seriousness the waitress asked, "Oh, are they TWINS?"

    There was NO way to say, "Um ... no" without rolling my eyes.

    People give me the "I don't know how you do it" non-stop. Makes my kids feel soooo great knowing they must appear to be obvious burdens.

    Good times.

  30. I always hated when someone came up to me and asked me "What aisle did you get those?" (referring to the kids). But that only happened when they were babies.

    I always wonder why people feel the need to say anything beyond "hello" in a store. I suppose they think they're original.

  31. Anonymous9:02 PM

    Those cracked me up. I've been following your blog since before you made it home from Haiti. I am the mother of 12 children, 11 of whom were adopted from the children waiting in foster care in various states. My kids are of various skin tones and I often get ridiculous statements. "Are those all yours?" - really like I would bring them all of they weren't. roflol Enjoy bc it is guaranteed that you will get many more stupid comments. I've even had people ask if I've figured out what causes it (when not realizing that we adopt) and I've told them that I have figured it out. Its airplane flights and my husband signing the paperwork! Love your blog! Thanks!

  32. I've only been reading our blog a short time, but I'd talk you up in Target in a good way, your kids are so cute! I only have 3 kids and any time someone says--'you have your hands full' I laugh and say--really? You should see my heart <3

  33. Oh my word. Hilarious. But not when it's happening to you....
    The "Natives"? HAHAHAHAHAHA. I would've paid to hear that one. People kill me.

  34. Well then, in that case, I will say it looks like you have a full heart. :) Its good to be a blessed woman. :) Also, thank you for your updates on Ronel. We have been praying here for this process.

  35. My children are mixed race (their father is from Ghana) and people used to always say to me "they are beautiful, where did you get them?". They checker at Costco would either send the cart with the Latina woman in front of me or the African American woman in back. That was odd but it was worse when I had my last and someone said "your grandson is adorable".

    WOW, right?

  36. i have 5 children and homeschool...i hear "you have your hands full" EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Drives me crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why not just say, "Wow, what a beautiful large family" or "Way to go, Mama!" or "you are incredibly blessed". There is unbelievable amounts of negativity surrounding having many children...NOT what I need!!

  37. Each time I get the "hands full" comment (with 5 kids, I get it pretty much ALL the time), I always smile and reply:

    "Full hands, Full House, Full Life, Full HEART. And I wouldn't have it any other way." And then I walk away.

    Love the post; I could so relate :)

  38. I have four kids and I can't go anywhere without hearing "you've got your hands full"...I decided it was the perfect name for my blog!

  39. Sister.
    My first time here, linked from a blog I follow, but I feel like I could sit down with you and talk for hours.
    I am so with you on the cart thing. We have managed to go quickly from needing one ridiculously huge cart to two, but still. Leave the big carts for the big families. They are not for joyriding, people.
    Beautiful family!!

  40. funny.
    But I must admit I have probably said something like this (you have your hands full) to other moms...but it's mostly said in awe. When I only had two I thought moms of 3+ kids were super heroes. I knew I couldn't do it and thought they were amazing for having the qualities to mother more children than I.
    Now that I have three.....I still think they are superheroes :D

  41. Yes. My hands are full. Now, how 'bout you grab that bag of pretzels and toss it in my cart for me. Thanks.

  42. Ooooh, can we relate. :) We have one by birth, 2 by adoption, and fostered two sweeties last year. The 5 kiddos were ages 1 - 6. In public, people used to recommend I get t-shirts with numbers on them. Not a bad idea since I was counting them constantly!
    Now we are down to 3, with one on the way (I'm pg). Our family will look just like yours. :)
    To the "You've got your hands full" comments, I simply say, "Yes, I'm very blessed!" To other rude questions, I reply with "Why do you ask?" Usually stops them, at least temporarily.
    Praying for you all as you settle in....

  43. I just found your blog today and this just made my day! Love it! I get that all the time "wow, you have your hands full." Last night I had some ladies exclaim over and over how crazy I was to have 3 kids. three!!! like I had 27! crazy people, just crazy. when I told them that we wanted to adopt they looked at me like i had 2 heads.

    thanks, i needed this. ;)

  44. i think you should tell them you have super parenting powers and leave it at that....crazy people. when i pregnant, i woman argued with me because she said i was huge i must be having was only one. she made a huge scene...i really don't like comments. i like to give crazy answers.:)

  45. Shelley2:02 PM

    My husband got me a shirt for Christmas that said, "Yes, I know I have my hands full."

    I resisted the chance to make a shirt that said "Thank You Captain Obvious." That just might be a bit too nasty...

  46. People say the "They keep you you busy" to me all the time. I just say, "I think all good moms are busy. Plus I'd rather be busy than board.

  47. Anonymous2:44 PM

    People must feel the need to comment on just about anything. I have 3 daughters and we hear all the time "just wait until they are teenagers". Really? I hadn't thought of that. You're the first person to say that! My husband is so tired of it that we're thinking of charging people $5 when we hear it (kind of a stupid tax). We could pay for college.

    Seems like same gender over 2 elicits comments as does any amount of kids over 3 or kids that look different from each other/you in any way. One friend of mine didn't tell anyone she was pregnant with #4 because she couldn't stomach the comments she knew she would get.

    I've been following your blog since you recently came home from Haiti. I've been praying for your family. If I see you in Target I'll let you cut in line :)

  48. Anonymous11:11 AM

    As a grandmother, I must admit that I'm one of those who would probably make the "hands full" comment -- surely with no malice intended and not as a code for "glad I'm not you!" I think it is said more in admiration. Why the need to say anything? I'm pondering that one...probably won't say anything in the future now that I know it it so annoying...

  49. So far we have 4 , one adopted from the Philippines, and I think most people aren't trying to be malicious, many of my good friends have multiple children in transracial families and we often laugh at comments we get and try to come up with kind yet impacting comments in return. As frustrating as it can get while we are just trying to grocery shop and live our lives, we try to see our families a little like ambassadors for adoption and if we can turn one possible negative interaction around, you never know how it might impact a person and give them some hope that "yes, maybe I can do that too!"

  50. Karon8:50 AM

    Mom of an only and apparently infuriating cart-swiper here. What can I say -- my son thinks it's a special treat. But if you show up at my Target in MD with your four kiddos, I will gladly give it to you. :)

  51. Anonymous9:40 PM

    The worst is when you are having a tough "mom day" and you are already fighting tears and someone makes a "you have your hands full comment". I wonder what they would do if I just burst out crying and sprinted away, with kids in tow of course. :)

  52. A friend of mine just recommended your blog to me and I found this post and all I have to say is AMEN, SISTER. "You sure have your hands full" is uttered about 487 times every single time we step out the door. And so often at Target! I wrote about the same thing awhile back ( Glad to have found your blog! You have an adorable family.


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