Well now that our baby is 8 months old I like to think of myself as something of a child rearing expert… I could barely keep a straight face as I typed that. No, I am definitely no expert on babies. What I have become an expert on is what I call the “smile, nod, and redirect”. It seems that NOTHING makes people want to share their opinions more than babies. This is where the “smile, nod, and redirect” comes in handy. Everyone from Grandmothers, to best friends (WITHOUT children), to nosey old ladies at the grocery store have opinions they cannot wait to share with you about what you SHOULD be doing with YOUR baby. This drives me BONKERS I must admit. But ever since I have mastered the smile, nod and redirect life has become much simpler. Here are a few examples:
1) NOSEY PERSON: So you’re going with a less aggressive vaccination schedule? Well ya know you really should blah blah blah blah. RESPONSE: Smile, nod and say that is an excellent point, thank GOD you have intervened! Say, why is your husband spending so much time talking to the cute waitress? How long DOES it take to order coffee? (redirect).
2) NOSEY PERSON:You know your baby wouldn’t be so clingy if you just blah blah blah blah. RESPONSE: Smile, nod, and say I hadn’t really thought of that, thank you for saving our child from growing up to be a serial killer! Say, isn’t that YOUR little angel showing his winky to those little girls for a cookie? (redirect)
I think what I have realized is that MOST of the time parents really want to validate their choices, and prove that what THEY decided was the right thing. Nothing supports my hypothesis better than the “day care moms”. Look, let me first say that I think that WHATEVER choices you make when raising your children are the right ones, as long as they don’t involve the use of duct tape and Benadryl as a babysitter. We do the best we can for our babies and have to make the choices that benefit our families. The MAJORITY of people we know have fully supported and even applauded the fact that we decided to have one parent stay home for a year or two with Zoey. Then there are the “daycare moms” this is a very specific sub group of parents that are SO aggressive about the benefits of daycare that they try as hard as possible to convince you that you should run back to work and drop your kid off at the local Pee Wee play hut. They like to tell me every single time I see them why they are so happy and thrilled with their choice. These are also the parents that want to play the “development game”. I hate to admit it, but THIS is a trap I HAVE fallen into. If you are a new parent and someone tries to rope you into the “development game” trust me, hold up one hand, turn your head, roll your eyes, and say “Homey don’t play that bitch”. They will usually brag about some new milestone their child has completed, and then follow it up with a snide remark about your poor abused stay at home baby. For example:
1) BRAG: Well you know little Apple was reading to at age 6 months. We couldn’t actually hear her, and she was holding the book upside down while chewing on it, but that just shows that she is a tactile learner. I owe it all to daycare. SNIDE COMMENT: Oh? Zoey isn’t speaking in complete sentences yet?!? I'm sure it will happen any day. Probably nothing to rush out and have her tested for or anything.
2) BRAG: The reason little Daquan is so social is because he is in daycare. You know his teacher says that during play time he passes out all the toys and makes sure that everyone is having a great time! Why the other day he grabbed the snack tray and started passing out crackers to all his little friends. We are so proud of our 3 month old. Thank god for Daycare! SNIDE COMMENT: So your telling me that Zoey hasn't mastered the sitting Indian style while stacking her blocks alphabetically by color and shape and reciting Shakespeare yet?!? Well babies develop at different speeds, I'm sure everything is fine.
Here is what I have figured out about this particular subset of working parents… are you ready? They really either feel guilty for wanting to work or wish they were home with their kids. They want to blow your candle out so theirs will burn brighter. And look I get it, staying home with a baby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is not for everybody. It is OKAY if going back to work makes you a better parent, or if your family needs your income. I know you’re doing the best you can and I applaud you for doing it! Believe me there are days when I think "hmmmm I wonder how the world of social services is even making it without me". But ultimately I wouldn’t change a single thing about my life as a stay at home dad. This is what is right for our family right now. And that is all that matters. The only group worse than the "day care moms" are the "Old school moms", but more about them later. As a Certified Expert Parent (or CEP as I like to call it) here is my prayer for the week.
Dear Lord, Buddha, Allah, the Dali Lama, and/or Oprah,
Inevitably one day I will witness a new parent changing their baby’s diaper/ breast feeding/ formula feeding/ potty training/ etc. They will be doing it differently than I would, and therefore it will be wrong, BUT if I should open my mouth to criticize them please tear out my tongue. Instead give me the wisdom to smile and tell them what an amazing job they are doing and assure them that their baby is incredibly lucky to have them. Because this gig is hard enough without me subjecting them to my advice.
Amen/ AHHmen/ Whatever
DISCLAIMER: The scenarios in this post are fictional, any similarities to actual stupid advice or comments we have received is purely coincidental, and therefore not liable.