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!