Wanna play the question game? The what? Here, in the stage of endless questions from inquisitive young people, I stop and think about all of the interrogations we encounter throughout life and realize that while this stage is exhausting, it is also simpler than some of the other questionable times we have faced. Unlike in junior high when we could simply yell out M.Y.O.B. (mind your own business) to anyone and everyone at all times — because it was cool — I find that as we get older, the questions get harder and quick answers less satisfactory.
I would say the challenging questions start when you go to college. What are you going to major in? (Okay, a legit question, but stressful nonetheless to those who don’t know!) When you follow up with a degree in something like Human Development, History, Philosophy, etc., the questions resume. What are you going to do with that? Again, I DON’T KNOW, or the logical next step, “Go to Grad School.” For what? “Not sure yet.”
Then you enter the workforce. The questions tend to become more of a pissing contest of whose job is harder or who is more successful in the early stages. What do you do all day? How much do you make? Are you going to be promoted? How many vacation days do you get? What are your career goals? Why should you get summers off? How many hours do you work?
A few years later you enter the next phase of life. Are you dating anyone? How long have you been dating? When are you getting married? Seriously, WHEN are you getting married? Do you even want to get married?
Then, before the wedding even happens, how many kids are you going to have? If you break a bow at your shower, you are doomed to tons of them. What ever happened to first comes love, then comes marriage?
So you get married and think you have a little reprieve, perhaps a little time to enjoy being married. Nope! Immediately so, when are you going to have a baby? God forbid you take some time to travel, settle in, etc. If you don’t get pregnant within the first year of marriage, it automatically becomes are you having trouble getting pregnant? Some people don’t ask outright — they just give you the stare down every time they see you, checking for that elusive baby bump. Watch out if you don’t have a drink. Why aren’t you drinking? I noticed you aren’t having a glass of wine tonight.
Once you become pregnant, the interrogation continues. Why aren’t you finding out the gender? Are you going to breastfeed? Your belly looks too small/too big, are you sure the baby is okay?
Then when you do have your child, people still aren’t satisfied. When are you having another? How many more do you plan to have? THEN, if you have one boy and one girl it is assumed you are done. Because why would you want any more kids than that? Or if you have two of one gender you must be trying for the opposite.
And bless your heart if you have multiples. There’s a reason articles like this and this are so popular — because they are totally true. I get asked the majority of these on a daily basis. People lose all filters. The questions run the gamut from laughable (are your boy/girl twins identical?) to wildly inappropriate. Most people want to know how they were conceived. I kid you not, one person asked me what sexual position we used to make twins. I should have slapped him, or at the very least yelled M.Y.O.B., but I just walked away, beet red.
My personal experience stops here, but I anticipate the next stages to included questions of the competitive nature surrounding school choice, sports, college, etc. Later it will be about our kids’ social lives (repeat above) and eventually retirement plans.
The questions don’t stop.
And here’s the thing… I don’t want them to. Why? Because as I’ve gotten older and experienced the gamut, I realize most of these questions come from people who care. (Now that I live in the South that is even more pronounced. The grocery store clerk really DOES want to know how my day is going!) The same questions that annoyed me are the same questions that pop into my head to ask others. It is only natural.
What kind of world would we live in if people didn’t ask questions? If they M.Y.O.B.’d all the time. There would be no interaction, there would be no discussion, there would be no learning, there would be no compassion.
Mostly people ask questions because they are curious. And let’s face it, everyone has different degrees of what they consider personal information. Sometimes you get the jerks who are just trying to belittle you or get a rise out of you, but if you shut them down with “it’s personal” or “M.Y.O.B.,” it’s done and you can move on. For the most part, people mean well and we should answer what we feel comfortable answering graciously, and politely decline when we don’t want to share. There is no need to come up with quick jabs or flippant embarrassing questions right back.
As the questioners ourselves, what we can do is learn to ask better questions. Don’t ask questions that you really don’t care to know the answer to. Don’t ask questions that would make yourself uncomfortable if the tables were turned. Ask questions to help you know and understand someone better. Be comfortable saying “that’s personal” or “I don’t want to talk about it” and don’t be offended when someone says that to you.
We have to be able to show one another we care, that we are there for them, but we also have to respect their privacy when they want it.