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Stirring up Controversy

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One of my friends, pregnant with her third and final child, posted to facebook last night that she found out that she was having a boy—her third boy. She had something like 30 comments, and I went in to add my congratulations. I was infuriated to find people actually offering their condolences to the fact that it was not a girl. People actually saying “I am so so sorry you will never have a little girl…”, or “you poor woman in a house full of boys..” I mean, seriously people. So I went in and offered my sincere congratulations and excitement and got the hell out of there.

Now I don’t know if she is harboring any resentment, but I started thinking about the assholish things that have been said to me during my pregnancies. I’ve heard it all from “the perfect family” after Lucy to “give your body a rest already”(from my own mother), and have even heard that I am contributing to over-population. I get stares and looks of sympathy when I am out with all of my kids, and on the occasions where I also have my 2.5-year-old niece, I actually get comments of “I am soooo sorry”. I always hear “Wow, you must have your hands full.”. I do. But I deal with it. And I chose this handful.

When I get in moods like this, I start getting spun up about every injustice that was ever thrown my way. Like the bitch in the restaurant bathroom last summer who actually said out loud how nice it was for me to use soap as I washed Lucy’s hands. This was sarcasm of course, since I didn’t use soap; that commercial stuff tears her hands to shreds. I have a gentle moisturizing hand sanitizer in my purse for such occasions. I didn’t say anything to her then…but I wish I would have, because seriously—what an asshole, but I’ve spent many a night coming up with what I should have said. (The jerk store called, and they’re running out of YOU!!)

In an attempt to redirect though, I started thinking if there was any time that I may have been insensitive without realizing it, like those poor misdirected shlubs who left comments for my friend. I remember a time when a friend brought her new baby in to work; he was a few weeks old. I gushed how cute he was and squealed that he was just! so! tiny! To which she snapped “he’s a baby, he’s supposed to be tiny. At the time I was taken aback, because clearly I meant nothing. I found out later that her son had some growth issues and she was sensitive about it. Duly noted. I didn’t mean anything by it, but to her, it meant EVERYTHING.


Here’s something I’ve caught myself saying a few times while visiting friends in the hospital, with their tiny 6 or 7 pounders: “She’s just so cute! My kids were only this tiny on the inside! I wouldn’t know what to do with such a tiny baby!” I don’t mean anything by it, but if we changed it around, if someone had said to me about 10lb 2oz Newborn Bud “Wow, he is huge! My kids were his size when they were 4-months old hardy har har..” I would probably have been infuriated. (not that we didn’t get comments about his size, but whatever)

So I guess the question is, who’s the asshole now. Clearly, it is me. It’s probably been all of us at some point or another. Do we all just need to shut the hell up about the age, size and gender babies of others? We just might.

I think I’ll be going with the standard “He is just darling.” from here on out. It’s safer that way.

12 responses »

  1. You are right that we have probably all made inadvertently insensitive comments at one point or another. However I do think it there is a big difference between saying something intended to be a compliment that could be a personal hot button for someone and actually telling someone you're SORRY about the child they're having. You know? It's easier to overlook inadvertent missteps than comments that come across as just plain rude.

  2. I don't know, there seems to be a great difference between being a nosy asshole and saying something that is none of your business ("so sorry you'll never know what it's like to have a girl") and making random observations that could be miscontrued or cause hurt feelings if unknown underlying factors exist. I'm sure the "girl" commenters mean well, but seriously. Back off and leave the woman alone. Maybe she only ever wanted boys.You get comments on how many kids you have? Really? I mean, it isn't like you're a Duggar or something. I hardly think 3 kids is some horrific offense to the world population. I probably get as many comments by choosing to only have one child.Which just goes to show – sometimes you can never win.

  3. I agree. "She's so tiny!" is way different than, say, "Was she premature?" Which someone asked me about Helen (who weighed nine lbs. at birth, BTW.)

  4. someone said that to me.. "he's just so sweet." and nothing else. I couldn't help but wonder what she WASN'T saying lol Damned if you do, damned if you don't. But I hate that crap about being SORRY like every family needs 2 genders to be complete…

  5. I try to tell myself that most people mean well, even when their comments say otherwise.

  6. I like the last note, thinking that others mean well when it comes out badly. That said, I'm relearning 2 things when I have this kind of encounter…1. Reacting to someone's comments etc. makes their problem mine. It's actually their problem, so I don't react and thus carry it around with me. I2. I am trying to treat others how THEY wish to be treated (that means finding out, and if you don't know, don't assume).Two MORE things (I am a wisdom pot today):1. I'm getting over the idea of self importance. It only seems to bring misery. It also allows you to see past yourself easily and thus de-personalises things somewhat.2. Assume makes an ass out of you and me.LOLLove you,PaprikaPS: Hope this note does not cause offense!

  7. i can't tell you how many people ask me if i want a girl, if i'm going to try for a girl, if two boys are hard. what is more frustrating is having to say, no my tubes are tied. which is then followed by, oh wow why did you do that, are you sure OH MY FUCKING GOD PEOPLEi'm going to start saying, "oh are you sad your baby is ugly" and see how they like it

  8. I think there is a such a difference between saying "Ooooo, squeeeee, tiny baby!!" which is OBVIOUSLY not meant badly (she was being oversensitive—we now know why, but she STILL should have been able to tell that your remark was positive), and saying, "Wow, he is so small. I've never seen a baby so small. Is he…okay? I mean, he is just SO SMALL!"And there's also such a difference between something that's meant to be admiring but comes across wrong (the "You sure have your hands full!" stuff I get all the time too) and "Oh, BAD NEWS that your baby is the way he/she is, I'm SO SORRY!"And DEFINITELY there is a difference between ALL of that and the pinehole who made a sarcastic comment about handsoap: that's DELIBERATE assholery, not just the standard accidental thoughtlessness everyone does from time to time without meaning to.

  9. I'll admit, I am guilty of (in Swistle's term "DELIBERATE assholery".But not about kids. Or things that haven't been directly DONE to me. And if I end up with another boy to go with the two I've already got? Peachy. I couldn't be happier. It really is surprising what people think is appropriate opinions to share regarding a coming child.And I don't use the highly irriatating commercial soap either. I had an old Biology professor who said water and rubbing do a good enough job in most circumstances. 🙂

  10. I feel like I'll never forget, after my second miscarriage, when someone said to me totally conspiratorially and dead seriously, "Oh- are you so relieved?" Because at the time my son was only a year old and I HAD expressed to her, earlier, some trepidation about another kid so soon. But still! To assume any woman would feel SO RELIEVED about losing a baby? I'm pretty sure, "I'm sorry" is the standard response in such a situation.Whatevs, like one of your commenters said, you just have to assume they meant well! Or, are complete idiots, which is their problem and not yours!

  11. I think there's a difference between saying things that are just rude – like apologizing to parents who aren't having a certain gender of kid – and commenting on a baby's looks in a positive, well-meaning sort of way, right? If people hadn't gushed over my babies, my feelings might have been saved a bit of bruising from unintionally rude things, but they'd also have been hurt because WHY WERE THEY NOT COMMENTING ON MY BABIES?


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