Friday, November 12, 2010

No Strangers to Penguins

They say that penguins in Antarctica are unafraid of humans because they have no natural land predators. You can just walk straight up and interact with them. I think sometimes people feel the same way about pregnant women and folks with babies. I know we all mean well, but it just cracks me up sometimes to think about it. Thus, without further ado, my Top 11 things total strangers say to "Preguinos" and those with a little chick along:

11. When are you due?
(I always wanted to say "They weren't completely sure, but it turns out, like most people in our culture, it was what we now celebrate as my birthday!")

10. It's a boy. I can tell.
(Seriously? You have vision that pierces my abdomen? You can sense my unborn chid's DNA? Or, like any good fortune teller, you're going with the 51% chance that puts statistics in your favor.)

9. It's a girl. I can tell.
(Ummmm you were wrong... or my child had some really sneaky surgery.)

8. You'll stop throwing up once... you hit 12 weeks/you really WANT to be pregnant/ you get to the third trimester/you buy those magic beans/you stop listening to strangers' advice.
(Turns out what works really well for me? Giving birth.)

7. You have put on so much weight!
(Thanks! That was a total of six pounds. SIX. 6. He weighed almost 8 when he was born. You do the math.)

6. He is so big for his age!
(Well, he's stayed pretty close to the 50th percentile for length and 25th for weight...)

5. He is so tiny for his age!
(See above, but, seriously, I frequently get both comments within minutes of each other. Perhaps I have a baby in a state of flux, but really, people just stink at eye-balling what's "normal.")

4. Is he yours?
(Nope, he's a loaner for my Home Ec. Class...)

3. He looks just like you!
(Again, within minutes of the previous comment, or, in ironic back peddling, from the SAME person. I know this is supposed to be a compliment, but I always think to myself what the reverse means: "Hey, you look a lot like nine month old little boy..." Thanks, I think?)

2. You're doing X wrong.
(This is my favorite. The out of the blue disapproval without correction. As in: "You shouldn't burp your baby like that!" No, "Hey, I see you have a lovely child, I just read this article..." or "I can tell you really care about your child, a better way to try that might be..." Or just "Mind your own stinkin' business unless I'm about to do something that places my child, or someone else in extreme danger!"

1. Touching.
(Not technically saying anything, just the blatant walk up and rub the belly/pat the child's head/surprise hug attack. All are quite welcome from friends, and sort of ok if the stranger asks... but it is seriously bizarre that folks do this. You can also immediately have a conversation with the "Toucher" about how scary "Strangers" are and how we can never never feel our children are safe. Oh the beauties of "Us" vs. "Them" logic. "Strangers" are dangerous people not involved in THIS situation. Or, possibly, the crazy person who just touched my child. Ummm, Mrs. Stranger? That would be you.

I love that life makes me laugh. I enjoy being an extrovert because it means I get to have more of these entertaining moments. Maybe I just look approachable? The great news is that I get to savor every moment of oddness without feeling too uncomfortable or weird. Just like plenty of early Antarctic explorers ate the penguins and the current penguins don't seem to care; I'll continue to be amused by the random acts and words of well-meaning strangers.

What's your favorite stranger moment? What things have you walked up to a complete stranger to say?

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