Howdy folks, Accidental Hipster Dad here again with another help post for new fathers.
I say ‘fathers’, because it’s us that tend to need help with the previously uncharted waters of baby chit-chat, whereas women seem to be magically fluent in it (don’t they though?).
You’re gonna have to find your own way around the virtues of different prams, Jumparoos and baby-led weaning, but these following points are the main things you’ll almost certainly be asked about:
So how much did your baby weigh? Geez, women are OBSESSED with this. It’s bizarre, I mean what a boring question. You tell someone you’ve got a new car, you don’t expect them to ask “oh really? How heavy is it?”
“You’ve gotta try this new bar, they do this crazy cocktail pitcher with vinegar, custard and horse urine, it shouldn’t work but it kinda…”
“Yeah yeah yeah, but how many millilitres is it?”
Really odd. Now my first question is always “what have you named him/her”, an INTERESTING question, regarding something that will identify and affect that child for their entire life. In a group though, you can almost see the women’s eyes glaze over at that question – ‘boring!’ they’re thinking. Someone chirps in with the burning weight question and it’s all enthusiastic ‘oohs’ and ‘awws’ over an answer that’s already out of date!
I can only assume it’s some sort of female machismo thing about how much they can push out of their front door, but even then it doesn’t account for the variables, “Tarquin was only 6lb but he had very broad shoulders”.
This is more the staple of those who already have kids, in a smug ‘I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that part anymore’ kinda way. Before your little one’s arrival, you’ll get “make the most of that sleep, cos you won’t be getting any soon!” delivered with a smile that is only retrospectively sadistic.
Once you’ve had your little bundle of wakefulness, they’ll ask how he/she is sleeping (delivered with the same inane grin if they’re really brave). Odd thing was, for the first month or so our boy slept like…well, a baby: he was a dream! Odder still, when I told these people that, actually, “nah, I’m getting a solid 8 hours still”, they could hardly hide their disappointment!
Of course, our little slumber-wonder soon grew into a bawling bambino, and I eventually started arriving at work bleary-eyed and a couple of minutes late. “Sorry, my boy was up ALL night, like literally ALL night. I’ve had a grand total of 30 minutes’ sleep and that was on the motorway driving in”. Now however, this doesn’t cut the mustard for some reason: they’re disappointed if you’re sleeping well, and pissed off when you’re found drooling on your desk.
IS HE TEETHING/CRAWLING/WALKING/TALKING YET?
He’s 2 months old; I’ll text you when he’s translating Finnegan’s Wake for the Hebrew market.
IS YOUR GIRLFRIEND BREASTFEEDING?
She was. Which always elicited positive responses of “that’s good, breastfeeding’s definitely best for the baby”. Which was nice to hear, but made me wonder, ‘what would they have said if I had answered no?’. The last thing new parents would need are disapproving looks that suggest they’re getting it wrong in some way. Do you really think the child’s mother hasn’t weighed up the well-documented pros and cons of breast versus bottle?
Yes! Don’t even get me started! I never offer up pictures because I know some people can get annoyed or bored by it, but if they ask, I guess they’re interested right? My smartphone is so stacked with pics and videos, that I’ve had to create room for them by deleting so many apps that my smartphone is now just a ‘phone’. Whilst I will happily sit anyone down who asks and treat them to a 45 minute slideshow complete with jaunty soundtrack, it can be dangerous to do so.
Why? Because if the person who’s asking doesn’t have children, you run the risk of them being what I’ll politely call ‘a proud aunty’.
Now, let me lay this out early – I have no beef with aunties (proud or otherwise), nor do I have a problem with those who chose not to, or can’t have their own children.
What I do have a problem with though, is those that have asked to see pictures of my baby, JUST so they can neatly segue into showing pictures of their niece/nephew.
Now I’m sure your niece/nephew is a lovely child, but you have to realise that I do not know your sibling/friend that spawned this infant. I have no point of reference. Do they look like their parents? I dunno. What you are showing me is just a picture of a child. I could have just Googled ‘child’ and found reams of pictures of similarly uninteresting children with no relevance to me.
Reading back over this, I realise it does kinda sound like people shouldn’t talk to me at all. I am happy to talk about my boy, honest! I’ll even happily answer all of the questions I’ve listed and proudly wax lyrical about my progeny, whilst genuinely being interested in your answers when I ask them back. Just don’t even think about showing me pictures of your nephew.
*My boy was 10lb 9oz by the way. I’m told that actually is pretty noteworthy!