Yes, that adorable baby in the grocery cart is mine. Yes, she is three weeks old and tiny. No, I don't want you to put your hands on her face.
I don't know what it is about babies and pregnancy, but everyone feels entitled to a new baby, and I admit to being guilty of it in the past. You pass the obvious car seat or round belly and can't help but take a peek. If you have had babies of your own, you might even do a quick mental checklist of comparisons to your own pregnancies and babies, noting things like how great everyone is looking and any blaring milestones that the baby displays.You might smile and coo at an older baby or wave.
When that baby is itty bitty tiny though, this is when people feel like they can do more than look. When that baby in the car seat is so tiny that the straps engulf her miniature head, this is when people lose all sense of propriety. That is when, inevitably, they want to touch cute little cheeks, pet heads full of hair, and start asking personal questions. Questions such as: " How old? How much did she weigh? Are you breastfeeding? Where did you have her? When are you having more?" Last, my personal favorite, " Haven't you figured out what causes that?" As if these questions (and many more) weren't enough, after the questions are answered, one is treated to a myriad of opinions that vary greatly based on your responses, usually while they are trying to reach into the car seat to move blankets around or stroke a face or foot sticking out. What I don't understand is the negativity that comes along with it.
The day after we brought our daughter home from the hospital, we stopped by Walmart to return some duplicate gifts. As my fiance talked with one of these such onlookers, I listened to the customary question and answer session while I returned our items to the customer service desk. When the "how old" question came up, the response was less than 36 hours. The woman promptly started getting mad and raising her voice to me. " Three days and you are standing upright and walking around like it's no big deal? Three days and you have that baby out in public? What is wrong with you? You don't even look like you were ever pregnant!" This last comment being extraordinarily accusatory. I just wanted to yell back at her that I had given birth for the second time with no pain medication either, just to see what she would say. I refrained, and smiled politely, and moved on.
My questions are: why ask the questions if you don't want to know the answers, and how do the answers have any effect on your life? Is it worth getting upset over? Are you always this rude and would you express all of your opinions to others like this? What is it about babies that changes the rules?
I don't mind for the most part, but it gets old after awhile, so don't be surprised if I start giving oddball responses. I'm just bored. Or exhausted. So please, look all you want, please don't touch, and let's go back to kindergarten for a few minutes. Treat others as you wish to be treated, and if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.