If you have ever taken your small child out anywhere in public, you are aware that the standard question asked by all adults about your little cherub is "how old is he/she?" This is a general ice-breaker amongst parents at the playground, a topic of conversation in the Wal-Mart line, and a way for parents to generally compare their children's development and personality.
We were at the playground the other day, and a mom was playing with an adorable little boy, just starting to toddle around. I was enjoying watching him put so much effort into walking, and since I was sitting there with my almost-toddler myself, I thought I'd strike up a bit of generic conversation to help pass the time.
"Aww! He's adorable! How old is he?" The mother looked at me as if I must be entirely stupid. "One."
What kind of answer is that? Everyone knows that before a baby is two years old, his age should be measured in months. "One" is such a vague answer at that age. Obviously this woman was unaccustomed to being asked this Standard Question, which I can only assume means she has not made it out of the house with her child since he was born.
One the other end of the spectrum, there are definitely questions that are NOT standard, and should just not be asked. Some things are not any of anyone else's business.
Another day at the playground, two mothers were there with their four year old little girls, and my five year old was playing with them. We were sitting around just chatting, when one of the mothers says, "I know you!" That statement is generally enough to make my heart skip a beat. Please, please just don't say you know me from high school or StarTek. (A very rough time in my life. I was a teenager, and struggling with finding my identity. I don't like looking back on that now.) "Oh?" I say. "I'm afraid I don't remember you. Where do we know each other from?" "We worked at StarTek together. You were my trainer. But didn't you have your head shaved....?"
I smile, say yes, but that I've moved into a different part of my life now, thankfully.
Shortly after, she asked what my husband does for a living. I gave her the answer I'm sure she expected - the answer of 90 percent of all stay at home mothers in Grand Junction, CO: "Oil Field."
Her response? "My husband does too. How much does yours make in a year?"
I stared at her as though she'd suddenly grown a second nose. "I'm sorry, what?"
She looked at me like I was either stupid or deaf to have not understood such a clearly asked question. She certainly hadn't beat around the bush. "Mine makes 85 thousand." She had a very smug look on her face. At least no one can say she isn't proud of the man she married.
"Oh? That's really great...." I reply.
Who the heck cares how much money her husband makes? And who the heck thinks that's an acceptable topic of conversation on the playground? Good God, just ask me how old my kids are, and let's start there, lady.