I think I'll go out today and tell all the dog walkers I meet exactly why I think they're nuts.

What do you think of this lead in:

"I had three dogs myself so I KNOW what it's like. I don't miss it. I am NEVER having another one."

What? Why are you giving me that look? Oh, you have a dog? Well, I can be conciliatory.

"Once in a while, I think it would be nice to have another one. The kids want one. But then I see somebody walk by swinging that little bag of poo and I come to my senses. Sorry kids. Been there. Done that!"

Did you say something? You love your dog? Well, whatever. Don't we all?

"I'm just sayin' mine were a handful. The chewing alone. They wrecked so much furniture. The hair. Everywhere! And it took forever to potty train them. Then they had accidents anyway. What's the alternative? A yard of mushy land mines. And they need SO much attention."

Aha, you admit that it's work! But... it isn't really that bad? Your dog is... worth it?

"But they're so expensive!"

Betcha never thought of that!

"You name it - collar, chain, leash, crate, dish, bed - unless they sleep in yours. Are you one of those people? FOOD - That's a biggie. Vet visits. Flea and tick control. TOYS. Can we talk toys? They go through toys so fast. How do you keep up? But you have to. If you don't give them toys, they get bored and wreck your stuff."

Why are you walking away?

"Hey, don't forget Obedience School! It goes up every year!"

You are dumbfounded. As you walk away you begin to think of everything you could have said if you'd had your fangs on you, like:

"What's it to you? Am I asking you to feed my dog, vet my dog, or buy my dog's toys?"

I know what you're thinking... because that is what I am thinking whenever someone stops me and tells me exactly why they think I'm nuts for having a big family.

It amazes me that it still happens. When the kids were little and I was "pregnant again" it felt like it was hourly. I used to hide my pregnancies until basketball season.

Now half of my family is grown. There are no babies or pregnancies. Everyone is happy, healthy, working, studying. They're not even ugly. How is this a problem?

And yet... recently, a friend's grandmother openly sneered at me. Like I came over for a cup of tea, a chat, and - "Forget the cookie - I'll have one of your sneers instead. Delicious! Did you make it yourself or did you pick it up on the way?"

Not long after that, a hairdresser did the same thing. Since when is, "The customer is always insulted," a business maxim?

Over the years I've tried the "I love my kids" argument and gotten pretty much the dog treatment above.

Maybe I should have tried, "So which one of us is fat?"

But no, we're supposed to be patient. People parrot this stuff without thinking. They would think it the depth of rudeness to insult an innocent dog - even if he is too busy biting fleas off his butt to listen. But it's always open season on kids.

Kids who are standing right there. Not a butt flea in sight. Kids who are listening.

My kids.

Worse, their own kids.

Maybe patience is NOT the answer.

Some good news. Now that some of my kids are grown, I know that these remarks haven't hurt them. They know that what these people say is not the truth. They are not evaluated like pets, on the basis of bother and expense or joy and pleasure.

The "I love my kids" argument is useless and subjective.

The intrinsic worth of my children has nothing to do with me. They are an image of God, purchased with the price of His blood.

What about those other children - who are just as valuable as my children? Do they know it? What do they grow up thinking?

I wish people would think about that.

No, maybe patience is NOT the answer.

Copyright 2012 Susie Lloyd