Baby Talk: How Do You Define A “Good” Baby?
The other day I was on my regular commute to Cape Town, and I found myself chatting to the nice couple next to me (let’s call them Dwayne and Nicole – which is only fair, given it’s their actual names and, to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t convicts on the run whose identities need protecting). At one point, we were chatting about kids, and they whipped out pics of their nine-month-old baby son. As an aside – this always fills me with anxiety. Click here to find out how you can deal with post-partum depression.
What if their kid is ugly?
(Or in another context with similar anxiety, what if I don’t like the present this person just bought me?). Look, I’m a nice guy, so I’m 100% committed to lying to you regardless of how ugly your baby is – and while we’re on this topic, your baby is probably ugly, or at the very least a fairly generic and extremely androgynous specimen. Because… it’s a baby.
Okay, wait, I promise I’ll get back to my main point quickly, but on the issue of a baby’s gender, I get that you don’t want to force your kid into the obligatory blue or pink clothes the whole time. That is 100% your prerogative. However, if you do have your kid hit the streets in their finest yellow attire, don’t be offended when we get their gender wrong. You score double confusion points if you give them a name that could go either way, such as Kelly, or Riley (my daughter’s name is Bailey, so I know I’m no saint here).
Anyway, back to the plane. Much to my relief, I didn’t have to lie; their kid was a real looker. So we went through all the “oohs” and “aahs”, and then I asked the standard follow up question…
“Is he a good baby?”
Now, up until this point the conversation had been lots of smiles and laughs, but it took a sudden turn for the worse.
“I get asked that question all the time … what does it even mean?” asked Nicole. She continued: “I’m sometimes sleep-deprived – it’s hard work – but how can this be what defines if he’s good or not? He’s a baby, for goodness’ sake. He’s an amazing, wonderful, beautiful boy. Oh, and as he’s my only kid, I have nothing to compare him to.”
I was taken aback for a second; then I realized she’s completely right. Why would I ever ask a person if their baby is good? What a silly label to ask someone to put on their kid, even if at that particular moment they do feel like it’s spawn from the underworld.
So, I’ve made a note to remove that from my repertoire. From now on I’m simply going with, “What’s your favorite thing that your baby does?” I’m guessing that the response will be far more interesting anyway.
Incidentally, that’s a pretty good life rule in general. Instead of asking people how their day was, try “What was the best thing about your day?”
It changes the context completely.
Have a great March everyone…!
This is how you get your groove back after having a baby.