But, that’s not the point of this story, even though I get ridiculously excited about the prospect of FPD grilling me up a steak or two before this summer is over.
**My apologies to all my veggie friends. While I respect you, and we are trying to eat a more plant based diet, I have eight kids. We need the beef.**
The man who sells us this cow and these chickens, all beautifully butchered, frozen and vacuum packed for freshness, is the son of a farmer, and likely a lovely man. He seemed to be anyway, as we were negotiating our final cost for what used to be Bessie. He was welcomed into our home and immediately commented on how many kids we have. Yes, we have a lot of kids, hence the need to purchase a butchered cow to get us through the year (wooo…feels kind of Little House on the Prairie in here all the sudden). The man asked if we are foster parents.
Nope. Our kids aren’t now, and never have been in foster care.
This man’s lovely wife was with him, and they were so excited to sell us this cow that they brought in their George Foreman Grill and let the kids sample a steak. As Middle-Middle spoke with them, the man commented on how “well-spoken” Middle-Middle is.
Oh dear. I try not to assume intent, but in general, it’s a bad idea to tell an African-American person that are “well-spoken” or “articulate” in a way that somehow implies you are surprised by this. Maybe he just meant Middle-Middle is well-spoken considering his age. Either way, we just smiled.
Then he asked if we would be using our Quest Card. FPD told him he didn’t know what that was. I smiled from the bathroom where I was quietly twisting hair and shouted “They’re Food Stamps. He’s asking if we are going to pay with Food Stamps.” After all, with all these kids, we must either be getting, or need, Food Stamps.
We told him we don’t qualify, but that it’s very nice of him to accept Quest, for those folks that do need it. They both looked puzzled, and wondered how with all our kids we didn’t somehow qualify. They looked at us like they truly didn’t “get” us. Hmmm, one of life’s great mysteries I guess, since I refuse to tell him how much we earn annually.
Then they asked what church we attend and if we’re “Evangels.” We said that, yes, we attend a church that was formed in the Evangelical tradition. He nodded as if he finally had us figured out. Because everyone knows you don’t adopt this many children without it being a religious calling. Sigh.
When they left, our living room now stacked high with boxes of various cuts of meat, I looked at FPD and said “what just happened here?” FPD reminded me that what just happened involved buying a frozen cow. I laughed. No, that’s not what I meant. I told him I meant what just happened with the guy who sold us the cow. He nodded. We both get it. It happens sometimes.
There was no way this man meant to be hurtful. His heart was in the right place. It’s just, well, that’s the thing about never having any exposure to someone who doesn’t look like you do. Sometimes, hurtful things come out when that’s your last intention. We talked about it with the kids, because this sure as heck wasn’t the first time they’ve been called “well-spoken” or we’ve been asked if we’re going to pay with Food Stamps. It just usually doesn’t happen all in one fifteen minute conversation. It was as if it was a skit that one might play at an HR meeting about racial and cultural sensitivity.
The kids get why it might be insulting to call them “well-spoken” or to assume we need to pay with Food Stamps. They also get why it’s important NOT to approach these conversations with anything but a kind heart and a want to educate. I have to admit, on my less patient days, I don’t always feel that way. But, I make mistakes too. We all do, we’re human. It’s a good lesson in acceptance for them too.
who went on to enjoy a nice, juicy, organic, grass fed, Kansas City strip.