Today I was at the Post Office, attempting to ship a package while carrying a sleeping baby, when a stranger approached.
“A cute baby boy,” he just had to say.
“Actually, a girl,” I replied.
He just had to continue. “Well, why does she look like a boy?” he asked.
I bared my teeth at him but instinctually answered politely. “Because she’s wearing her big brother’s snow suit.”
On the way home from town I got to thinking about the stranger… and about countless other strangers who have advanced with equally ridiculous comments since I started having babies five years ago. I’m not mad about it. These people don’t make me furious. But I am continually astounded by how unintelligent they prove the general public to be.
I have a boy. I have two girls. And in my experience, people constantly back themselves into a conversational corner wherein they are forced to name the gender of the baby. At least 50 percent of the time they guess wrong. My boy, who I believe to be fairly masculine in appearance, was often mistaken for a baby girl. My two baby girls, both of whom are preciously beautiful, have been mistaken for boys. You can dress a baby girl in a frilly pink outfit and still some ignorant soul will comment on your cute little boy. You can dress a boy in a Superman costume and still some fool will praise your pretty little girl. Seriously.
Why, folks? Why do you insist on guessing when you are wrong the majority of the time? Can you not hear yourself sounding stupid?
I introduce the concept of Neutral Baby Comments. How about, “Your baby is adorable!” If the baby isn’t adorable, how about “Awwww… it’s a… baby.” If you’re just dying to know the gender of the baby, use language to force the parent into saying it. Something as simple as the question “Name?” might work.
Or if you’re safest just keeping your mouth shut, just wave and smile… and believe me, that’s plenty. In most situations in life, that’s plenty. Just wave and smile. It’s the surest way to appear smarter than you really are.
© Tami Blake