I was working on our Christmas cards yesterday and I had to call customer service with an issue. The agent pulled up my file so she could see the card online.
Agent: “Oh they are beautiful. Are they your children?”
Me: “Thank you. Yes, they are my children.”
Agent: “Oh, your daughter, she’s beautiful. Does she have mixed genes?”
The agent had an accent and it’s very possible it was a cultural or communication issue, but the question was weird. Granted, it’s not the WEIRDEST question I have been asked (that would probably be this interaction while we were still in Vietnam), but it caught me off guard. It was strange to be asked about my family by someone on the phone who was looking at my kids’ photo, and was very possibly (probably) in a different coutry.
We haven’t had lots of direct questions lately. It seems to kind of go in spurts. We’ll be asked several things by several people in a short period, and then nothing for a while. I constantly feel like people are trying to figure us out though. It’s not usually rude or intrusive. Most of the time it is subtle, like an extra long glance.
My latest theory is that people think we are a blended family – we are each bringing children from other relationships. Since my hair is almost as dark as Zoe’s and Colin’s, I think people assume they are “mine.” Since Noah looks a lot like Christian, I think people think he is “his.”
If Zoe and I are out by ourselves, I’m sure people assume that she was adopted. But when we are all together, I don’t think they are so sure. Noah and Zoe don’t look alike, but Colin kind of looks similar to both Noah and Zoe. He has black hair and dark eyes like Zoe, but his skin tone and facial shape are similar to Noah’s.
I’ve been asked a couple of times recently if Colin and Zoe are twins. Even though Colin is 19-months younger than Zoe, he weighs a pound more than her and is almost as tall. With their hair and eye color, they do look similar. It still makes me laugh a little though, since they are a year-and-a-half apart and she is Asian and he is Latino. (I realize it is not nearly as absurd that when people ask my friend Laura if her son from Vietnam and her daughter from Ethiopia are twins.)
Someone asked me the other day if my hair color is my natural color. Like many women my age, I’m not sure that I really remember what my natural color is. I’m a brunette, but I’m not sure what shade of brunette anymore. When we adopted Zoe, I had blonde highlights. I think I have either had blonde highlights or I’ve had my hair slightly darker than my natural color most of my adult life, with maybe a hint of red thrown in a time or two.
I don’t know that I did it consciously, but I realized recently that since we’ve talked about how we are different and how we are the same with our kids, I have kept my hair very dark brown (almost black). We say that Mommy, Zoe, and Colin all have black hair. Noah and Daddy have brown hair. Daddy, Noah, Zoe, and Colin all have brown eyes. Mommy is the only one with green eyes. A lot of people say that Colin looks like me (I get, “He has your hair!” a lot), so I guess it feels good to be able to tell Zoe that I am “like” her in some way, too.
She asked me the other day if she can have red highlights when she’s older. Maybe we’ll do it together someday. 🙂