I went to a baby shower this weekend where I was the only woman of child-bearing age who was not either pregnant or already a mother. I’ve never really noticed being in that situation before. I mean, Christ, I’m only 31 (yes, only) and I am still getting over the convenience and pleasure of being able to purchase my own alcohol.
Of course, given the circumstances, I received more than my fair share of interrogation concerning the state of my womb. I had to cut my cross-examiners some slack, though, considering we were surrounded by towering stacks of receiving blankets and crepe cut-outs of baby carriages hovering inches above our heads. And did I mention the gaggle of screaming children running around? Parenthood was pretty much the unavoidable topic of the day, no matter how hard I wanted to turn the conversation to the delicious pepper-jack cheese cubes I was inhaling with my pink-colored punch.
All in all, though, the shower was fun. I love watching people open gifts, and the guest of honor got all kinds of fun little things that will soon be coated in a fine film of spit-up. Plus, the little kids that were running around were really cute – especially one particularly outgoing little girl who insisted on helping out with the games & gift-opening, and also offered a baby name suggestion to the mother-to-be (“Flower.”). At one point, she came over to me and struck up a conversation about unicorns or Hello Kitty or whatever little girls talk about, and this is where the afternoon went from “vaguely uncomfortable” to “I wonder how fast I could locate and imbibe a bucket of distilled spirits?”
My guess: not fast enough.
Oh, it’s not like I did something awful, like telling her that she was probably adopted or asking her to callate su grande yapper – I’m just not very good when it comes to talking to kids. Or keeping them entertained. Or interacting with them whatsoever.
…said the girl trying to get pregnant. Jesus Christ.
I don’t know why it’s such a struggle for me. I babysat endlessly between the ages of 14 and 20, although I have to admit that most of my babysitting techniques involved plopping the kid in front of Nick Jr. while I finished my Judy Blume novel and made myself a snack. (Oh, MAN, the people I babysat for always had the best snacks: rice krispie treats, cookies, popsicles, townhouse crackers with cheese & pepperoni slices – and the Coke flowed like water, my friends, which was a big deal for me, since my mother never bought Coke unless we were having company. But anyway.) I think most of my problem stems from the fact that I was the youngest kid in my immediate family and never spent any real time around cousins who were any more than a couple years younger than me. Also, I was painfully shy until at least age 10, and when I see a shy kid acting all uncomfortable around me, I immediately regress right back into that shy version of myself, and I have no idea what to say. Even more terrifying for me are the really outgoing and borderline-bossy types, because they always pushed me around as a kid, and they still make me uneasy to this day.
So, basically, shy or outgoing – they all make me feel weird, and once I exhaust the normal topics of “what’s your name/how old are you/what grade are you in?” I’m totally dry. Come back and talk to me in ten years when I can at least ask you about movies other than “Barbie of Swan Lake.”
God, if she wins the Oscar I hope she doesn’t forget to thank Ken! We all know how that ended up for Hilary Swank…
I’ve always envied those people who just have a way with kids – not so much the preschool-teacher types who baby-talk in booming voices with exaggerated gestures, nearly having an aneurysm while over-emoting about “WOW! Look at Andrew drinking his juice box like a BIG BOY! Are you a BIG BOY, Andrew? Look at your sweater with the BIG BOY dinosaur on it!” but the people who can just talk to a kid like a normal fucking person, but also on a level that the kid can understand. I’m not suggesting that I’d like to be able to casually offer a 5-year-old a Miller Lite to calm her crying when she skins her knee, I’m just saying I’d like to be able to just TALK to a kid without feeling uncomfortable and without shouting about LOOK! MADISON WENT PEE-PEE ALL BY HERSELF, EVERYONE! I FEEL A SONG COMING ON!
The day I start sounding like this asshole, just push me down the stairs.
So, I have to ask: is it normal for a full-grown woman who wants to have a kid in the near future to be so damn weird around them? Is it just because I haven’t spent a lot of time around people whose bed-wetting is in no way alcohol-related? Does this mean I will have nothing to say to my own kid because I will already KNOW its name/age/grade? Or, as I suspect, will I eventually turn into the woman I always feel sorry for in public bathrooms, who is usually spewing a running commentary of “OK, NOW, SIT ON THE POTTY, SWEETHEART – THAT’S RIGHT! LIKE A BIG GIRL! NO, DON’T MOVE, NOT YET…NOW WIPE LIKE MOMMY SHOWED YOU, OK? GOOD! NOW STAND OVER HERE BECAUSE MOMMY HAS TO USE THE POTTY…” while I stand, frozen, two stalls down – waiting for the inevitable exclamation of “Mommy’s pooping!” or something equally jarring in the small (but surprisingly loud) voice of a 3 year old girl?
I can’t argue with that.
I’m pretty sure I know the answer to my own question. I’m pretty sure that – if I have a kid – I can get used to peppering my conversations with “RAY! You take that diaper off your head, you put it back onto your sister!”, and I’m also pretty sure (or at least hoping) that the conversation will come a little more naturally when I’m dealing with my own kid. Assuming (as I do) that I will give birth to an Alex P. Keaton (that is, a child who goes against every belief I hold near and dear), I’m sure I’ll spend the better part of 18 years yammering on to the poor kid about how he is breaking his mother’s heart every time he watches Fox News.
You march right back upstairs and take that sweater vest off before your father gets home!
Otherwise, the kid’s childhood will have all the ease of The Chris Farley Show, and we can’t have that.
“‘Member that one time? When you were born? And…and…you were all naked and stuff? That was AWESOME!”
Entry filed under: And you KNOW THIS!.