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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

i need a chaperone


a word to the wise: never EVER comment to a newish mother that her baby is anything less than big and fat and chubby and, most importantly, HEALTHY. mrs nice guy clued me in to this many moons ago. you see, shortly after the birth of our daughter, my foxy wife joined a mom's group (they meet once a week to commiserate over coffee, eke out some empathy and, i am just speculating here, have milk-squirting contests -- for aim, distance AND volume). i escorted my lovely bride to her mom's group one sunday and happened to notice that one of the babies had scrawny little chicken legs. i thought it was cute, so i pointed Toothpick Charlie out to mrs nice guy and she drew me close, whispering: "never call another woman's baby skinny! she's had trouble feeding him and is totally self-conscious about it." so i bit my tongue.

i like to think of my wife as my good angel. mrs nice guy's mere presence keeps me out of harm's way: i shower more often now that she's in my life, i have health insurance now, she reminds me what people's names are and who i should avoid talking to, i drink less when she's around, i tend not to fornicate with strangers so much these days. the list goes on. the point is that when she's not around, i get into trouble. now that i am on leave and away from a professional setting, the potential for getting myself into trouble has exploded exponentially.

this is a small example, but it'll give you an inkling. today i went to one of the many local baby bodegas in search of a brush for washing out bottles. our old bottle brush had died, providing me with an errand! (a side note: i love errands! an achievable goal, something that i can accomplish with a baby faceted to my ribcage, is always a welcome divertissement.) so as i'm in the baby supply store, a mom with a stroller starts smiling at my baby. this happens all the time. i am now used to strange people looking directly at my chest and smiling big googly smiles. it was weird at first, but i have come to terms with it. this particular smiling stranger has got a stroller, and i think there's a baby in it, but i can't be sure -- it's one of those strollers with a big awning and the baby is all wrapped up underneath and tucked away and protected from the big bad world and NO ONE MUST GAZE UPON HER, so there could be a toy poodle in there for all i know. anyway, the mom starts talking to my chest:

smiling stranger mom: so cute! how old is she?!?!?
mr nice guy: thanks. she's five-and-a half months. how old is yours?
smiling stranger mom: she's nine months! she loves the bjorn too! she saw me take it out today and got all excited, but i was like 'no way! i am putting you in the stroller!'
mr nice guy: ha. yeah, i bet at nine months she's pretty heavy.
smiling stranger mom: oh, 18 pounds.
mr nice guy: oh, she's a lightweight!
no-longer-smiling stranger mom: SHE'S IN THE 45TH PERCENTILE! YOUR BABY IS THE FAT ONE.

i should have known better -- lord knows i despise people who get all up in my bjorn and go "what happened to her nose?!" so, slowly, i walked away. although i admit i was tempted to tell her that, yes, my child scored a fairly high percentile in the weight department, but -- and this is perhaps more alarming than having a borderline anorexic nine-month old -- she has a minuscule head. FOURTH PERCENTILE HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE, LADY. you and your scrawny chickenbaby can suck it!

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, you made me laugh out loud with the whole, "you and your skinny chicken baby can suck it" comment. Well done!

11/02/2005 11:55 PM  
Anonymous kate of salt lake said...

oh, i really hope chicken lady and her scrawny baby are reading this blog.

11/03/2005 1:41 AM  
Blogger Neal said...

Wow, I didn't know the competitive spirit extended to baby weight. What is she going to do if her child is in the 100th percentile at age 20? Throw a party? "Hooray, my child is incredibly obese!"

11/03/2005 5:02 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Oh you better hope there isn't a toddler class for competetive hot dog eating. You know it's those chickenbabies who dominate.

11/03/2005 7:42 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

Sorry, I gotta say it:

18 pounds at 9 months??!!

My son was TWENTY pounds at FIVE months. Granted, he was 10 at birth...yeah, he was big.

11/03/2005 8:57 AM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

You've never had strange men smile big googley smiles at your chest?? - oh, forgot, this is a daddy blog... Such a sheltered life men lead.

Eighteen pounds at nine months? Ha! MY son was almost ten pounds at birth, eleven pounds a week later, twenty-two at six months, and THIRTY at twelve. Suck that back, mother of chickenbaby.

(Course, now he's six foot tall and a 130 pounds, but that's normal for 16 year olds, right??)

11/03/2005 9:21 AM  
Blogger Dutch said...

yeah our baby is even scrawnier than the one you saw: 9 months, 16 pounds. and you know what? people do say shit to us about it constantly, and it kind of does piss me off, foremost because everyone who says something thinks they're the first to notice and that we haven't thought about it at all.

I just don't understand when all this became a big baby fattening-up contest. the gigantic babies we see all over town who are dense as fruitcakes to too heavy to carry more than a few steps seem destined to wear only a diaper while toddling around maury povich's stage. . .I have seen some seriously gigantic babies.

I would never have been offended by what you said, but I do get pissed when people tell me I should go see the pediatrician or that we should be supplementing with formula. . .I have started telling people that my child is a midget and that they should just go mind their own fucking business.

I will say that having a 9 month old who weighs 16 pounds makes bjorning around town a helluva lot easier. we've never even used our stroller.

11/03/2005 12:35 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

thanks, dutch. it's amazing to me how entitled folks feel to get all in the business of other people's babies. why? just because they have one too? do they go around giving people unsolicited advice on other their cars? personal finances? sex lives?

maybe the next time someone tells me i ought to consider doing X for my baby's benefit, i will tell them that if they dressed better maybe they would get laid more often.

11/03/2005 1:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

On the other side, and just to reinforce that I totally didn't mean to slam on skinny babies, my daughter is and has always been tiny. I think she may have weighed 15 lbs at nine months.

She's five now and weighs 29 pounds. We get the "oh, she's so little" thing constantly, as if we hadn't noticed (like dutch said).

So not only did we get the "OH MY GOD THAT BABY IS HUGE!!!" with the firstborn, we now get the "Oh, you should FEED her!" with the second.

There's no winning.

11/03/2005 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both of my kids have always been tall and slender. Personally, I think ALL babies are cute - chubby or not! A mom in my mom's group actually told me to my face that she loves chubby babies and would hate to have a skinny one because babies should be pudgy. Nice. Everyone should just butt out and mind their own business. Ever hear of genetics?? (oh, and I am the one who wrote the first comment so I still think the mom of the scrawny chickenbaby should suck it!!)

11/03/2005 2:49 PM  
Anonymous tanyetta said...

I thought I was the only one who gets really annoyed when people would refer to my son as TINY. (he's 20 lbs at 12 months).
Comments like: Oh my gosh he's soooo tiny! i think the kicker for me was at macy's the cashier says ohhhhhh he's so tiny. needless to say she was looking 300+ lbs i had a thought to say yeah, compared to you......well u know the rest! .. I could NEVER fully explain why comments like
that really TICKEd me off now, that I've read your post, it makes all the sense
in the world now. People JUST don't think before they speak! Ah Ha...Thanks!

11/03/2005 3:25 PM  
Anonymous KC said...

The rule should really be: don't comment anyone else's size, period. My big baby gets comments all the time: "She's HUUUGE!" "She's only 6 months old? She's bigger than my 1YO!" And I find myself saying "No, I'm not overfeeding her. No, she doesn't eat any more than other babies. No, she's not fat."

I have to remind myself not to comment on the itty bitty-ness of other people's babies, too, though. I think tiny babies are adorable, and notice them because they look so much different than mine, but people really don't take kindly to size comments on either end of the spectrum.

11/03/2005 3:56 PM  
Blogger Cattiva said...

So...can you tell me how to work the stupid bjorn thing? I keep getting tangled up in it and need outside help to get extricated.

11/03/2005 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one of the unspoken truths of parenthood is that no matter what you do, someone will inform you that you are doing it wrong. If you don't put a hat on the kid, someone will tell you that you should have. If you do put a hat on the kid, someone will tell you that it's too hot for that. You cannot win.

11/04/2005 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Dutch said...

anonymous- so true.

I think the age guessing game also contributes to this. why do people feel the need to guess the baby's age?

After reading this post and this discussion I have convinced myself never to say anything about any baby's size ever again. you just can't win.

11/04/2005 12:44 PM  
Blogger birthfree said...

Hmmmm.
On a side...
is all unsolicited advice bad advice?

I hear you on the comments, I have one skinny/tall, one short/dense and I've been on the receiving end of both types - at this point, I tune it out. Maybe that ability comes with time? I figure they're my kids for a reason and we do a pretty damn good job... I don't have enough time to deal with comments that chip away at my parenting confidence.

11/04/2005 3:16 PM  
Blogger birthfree said...

Oh, and I feel the same way at the pediatrician's office, "Oh, he's in the 40th percentile" (anxiety welling, "That is below 50" I think, "he is too small!") or "Oh wow, he's at 95 percent" ("Woah! That is wayyy too big!").

You know what I say? Given the opportunity to eat when they want, sleep when they want and have as much love as they want... kids grow. Period. My god, if someone weighed me all month and told me what percentile I was in, the pressure!

It's like wondering if they are getting enough to eat (if they nurse) - "Are they happy?" Enough said.

11/04/2005 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PEOPLE: It's about people's own insecurities as parents. We pour all this energy into these babies and we have to wait how long, 10, 15, 20 or more years to really see how they turn out? People need validation.

That said, if I wasn't in the mood to take the comments lightly, sarcasm was very satisfying. Of course she's little, we only feed her every 12 hours, etc.

11/04/2005 7:38 PM  
Anonymous GirlNextDoor said...

My baby is huge,literally off the charts for height, weight, and yes, head circumference.

I pushed for three and a half hours.

Moral of the story; ya can squeeze 'em faster when they're small. Cute as pudge is, I'm going for tiny next.

11/06/2005 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Lins said...

My first reaction to this post was extreme laughter... and then I thought it's not nice to laugh at the poor snotty woman's skinny baby, I shouldn't do that... and then I changed my mind... HAHAHAHAHA!!!

11/10/2005 12:40 AM  

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