It happens with frequency. I meet a new person and we get around to chatting about kids. They ask, “How old are your kids?” I pause and say, “Eighteen and eleven.” The reaction is always the same, but the words people say vary from “you don’t look old enough to have an eighteen-year-old,” to really crass obnoxious things that would have your jaw on the floor. I’ve heard it all. I’ve come up with a series of comebacks to these. Pick your favorite:
The Celebrity Reference: Yes, my husband and I were twelve when we flew to Malawi to adopt our son.
The Slam: That’s funny, you don’t look smart enough to have a job.
The Veiled Sexual Reference: Well, I assure you I’m old enough now and I was old enough then.
The Denial: I don’t? You’re kidding. Thanks! I just celebrated my 60th birthday.
The Shocker: I’m not. It’s another tragic story of pre-teen pregnancy.
The Lie: Actually, he’s my mother’s son, who we raised because mom was not interested in raising another child at 50. Keep quiet, though. We’re waiting to tell him until he has kids of his own.
The Turnaround: I was 19 when he was born. What were you doing at 19?
The Smackdown: Yes, we got married at 18, I had him at 19, finished college, owned a home and two cars at 25. We both have great jobs. Oh, and we’re still married.
Of course, depending on the person, I try to match my reaction to their response. More often than not, I think of a sweet comeback a day later. Most of the time I just say, “Thank you,” modestly, as if I am much older than I look. This is bound to catch up with me eventually, I imagine. What would you say?