Judging my brood size
Walking downtown, a man stepped out of a local bar to have a cigarette. He looked over my children while lighting up.
All yours?
Somehow, I knew what was coming as I answered in the affirmative.
How many?
He seemed incredulous at the result of his own count, needing my confirmation that there were indeed four children. Or maybe he was drunk enough to be seeing double. Or thought he was. I braced for the invariable comment as I responded.
Life is never boring at our house.
He looked disapproving and even shook his head.
I thought it was a daycare.
I couldn't miss the sneer in his voice. But I laughed. Not a polite laugh. Nor even an uncomfortable laugh. A real laugh because I really thought it was funny...as if I had never heard that one.

As many times as I have had this discussion, it is different when it is your obstetrician joking,
Better you than me.
Or the stranger who inquires as to whether or not I know what "causes that."

Why, I do not know. I didn't think about it then. Maybe it is because these other people are cloaking their judgment with an attempt at humor. Because the joke isn't funny and it never really was.

Perhaps in future I'll get on better if I imagine all of them stepping out of a bar to have a cigarette. They don't need to know why I'm laughing.