guest post by the kid's mom
What is it about having a baby that makes total strangers think it’s acceptable to talk to you? Since the birth of my son, I’ve tried to get out of the house as much as possible, and I have been struck by the number of people who would have ignored me under normal circumstances, but feel perfectly justified in addressing me because I have a baby.
The conversations generally start the same way. First, they state the obvious: “Oh look, a baby!” Yes, that’s right. You have correctly identified that the creature in the stroller is an infant human. Congratulations. Then come the personal questions: “How old is he?” “How much does he weight?” “Does he sleep through the night?” “What’s his name?” And my initial reaction is, what the fuck do you care? Hey, I don’t know you. You saw me on the train, or in a checkout line, or in a restaurant. My kid and I weren’t talking to you. We’re never going to see you again. So why the hell are you talking to me? You wouldn’t talk to me if I didn’t have a baby.
Sometimes, people try to relate to me by telling me that they also have a child, or that their nephew just had a baby or whatever. Oh, that’s . . . nice? What the fuck do you say to that? Some woman in the next room was having a child while I was having mine. I didn’t pop over to say, “Oh hey look, we’re both having babies! What are the odds?” Because the odds are good. Millions of people are born every day. But more on that in a bit.
And then, God forbid my son is crying, because then I get the questions that lead to unsolicited advice. “Is he cold?” “When was the last time he ate?” “Does he need to be changed?” “How often are you feeding him?” “Is he prone to colic?” Shut up, for the love of Christ, just shut the fuck up! If I needed help I would announce: “Hey, N train! I’m an incompetent mother! Could somebody please give me some advice as to how to make my baby stop crying?” But guess what? Either I know why my baby is crying and I can’t do anything about it right this very second, or he’s just crying because that’s what babies do. Your questions are distracting and annoying, and they are not going to magically stop the baby crying. Fuck off.
What is it that makes the baby special? Is it because it’s tiny, and we, as a western society, are somehow fascinated by tiny things? Our fascination with the cute and tiny extends from our (mercifully extinct) preoccupation with little people to our (horribly perpetuated) postings on cuteoverload.com. None of the creatures on cute overload are larger than a baby.
So, aside from it’s size, what makes the baby special? Lots of people have babies. 134 million are born worldwide each year. Lots of people would have to have babies, otherwise we’d have died out as a species long ago. So many people are having babies that there is a worldwide overpopulation crisis. There are babies everywhere. Why do people comment on them?
Think, for a moment, just how insane you would think I was if I came up to you with observations about something perfectly normal. Like your nose. Everyone has a nose. If I walked up to you and said, “Ooh! You have a nose!” you’d think I was a lunatic. And you’d be right. Now imagine that I went on and asked a bunch of personal questions about your nose. “How long has your nose looked like that?” “Have you always had those freckles there?” “Is that the nose you were born with, or did you have a nose job?” “Do you snore? I snored, but then I went to this sleep clinic, and now I don’t.” “Have you ever considered piercing your nose? My cousin got her nose pierced. I thought about it, but I get this drippy sniff in the winter, so I thought that might be a bad idea.” But I don’t say any of that shit, because you would either back away slowly, or just flat out run from some psycho who started blathering on about your fucking nose. As well you should. Because that would be crazy. But apparently, it’s okay to act that way when the item of interest is a human infant.
All that said, our son happens to be unnaturally cute. I say this without maternal bias – it’s an empirical fact. He’s breathtaking. So I kind of understand it when total strangers are fascinated by him. It’s like staring at a hot chick. If the tits are big enough, they demand attention. So I get that. But you never, NEVER address the hot chick and tell her how spectacular her tits are, unless you are a deranged homeless man or a construction worker or whathaveyou. And when you see someone address the hot chick and her big boobs, you smirk to yourself as you watch that person get their ass handed to them by the hot chick who has no time for their likely drunken advances. But if a lady with a baby told someone to go fuck themselves, you’d think she was a monstrous bitch. It hardly seems fair. Yes, he’s adorable. Thank you for the compliment. Now leave us the hell alone. Because the kid and I hate you too.