(Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series titled “Things I was Going to Post About a Year Ago”)
Miss Bookworm recently wrote an article for “Earthen Vessels,” a small self-published magazine out of Canada. As I was reading it, the line “I can hold my head high whenever somebody looks in awe, amazement, or disdain at our colorful family” caught my eye. It is true that when our family is in public we often attract a variety of looks from other people. While I feel somewhat indifferent to the attention we attract, I know that our children are more impressionable.
Prior to our summer travels last year, I was reflecting on all of the places we would be going, the looks/comments/questions we would receive, and what effect it would have on our children. I wanted to do something to help foster a sense of family pride for these public times so that our kids could “hold their heads high.” This led us to making family t-shirts. The front of our t-shirts had a drawing related to each person in our family while the backs declared that big families rock.
Now, heading out to an amusement park or some other public venue with the nine of us dressed in the exact same shirt happens to be on the edge of my comfort zone, but the kids loved it. There were several positive impressions that I had from wearing the t-shirts for a summer.
- A sense of togetherness. It is hard to explain, but I felt like we were closer together when we all had the same shirt on. It was like we were a team ready to take on the world.
- A Conversation Starter. We talked to far more people than we would have otherwise. Almost all of the conversations were uplifting. While large families are rare, they are not as rare as we thought. Many people would come up to us to tell us about how many siblings or children they had.
- Easy Kid Tracking. I am often stressed in busy public places about possibly losing track of a child. The shirts significantly reduced my level of stress because I could locate every child in a quick glance.
- Promotion of Large Families. We were a walking billboard. I list this here as a positive, but I am not one to live in a fish bowl. At one point I was walking along with Miss Bookworm and people were yelling, “Hey, Big Crazy Family!” and waving to us as they passed overhead on a sky lift.
- Being the Envy of Young Children. Multiple times I heard kids asking their parents why they did not have family t-shirts. Then parents would ask us where they could get these t-shirts, not knowing that we had them made.
Overall it was a positive experience and drew us closer together as a family while at the same time allowing us to reach out more to others. The only thing I would do differently would be to include the phrase “We are a family, not a daycare” right on the shirt to save us from answering that question all of the time. And maybe if it was printed on the shirts, our girls would have been able to convince the girl they met in the petting zoo that we actually were a family.