Thursday, November 18, 2010

When Men and Women Meet Baby

When it comes to babies, everybody has something to say. I've had the opportunity to spend time with my baby while in the company of a large group of women (i.e. at a baby shower), as well as with a large group of men (i.e. a golf tournament cocktail party). I couldn't help but notice the differences in how men and women interact with a new baby and that baby's parents:

Greetings, Baby!
Women: Women can be divided into two groups: those who are comfortable with babies, and those who aren't. Women who aren't used to being around babies will generally smile and wave at the baby, unsure of baby etiquette and protocol and whether it's ok to reach out and touch somebody else's baby without expressed permission. Prior to becoming a mom, that was my category. Women who are accustomed to being around babies will snatch your baby up and hold him, rock him, feed him, hug him, kiss him, and give him a new nickname.

Men: Unless this man is somehow related to the baby, he will usually adhere to the "look but don't touch" philosophy, with one exception: a man is 100 times more likely to attempt to high-five an infant.

Look at the Baby!
Women: A group of women will "ooh" and "ahh" over the baby, ask the mother "Who do you think he looks like?" and then they'll all take turns pointing out each of the baby's facial features and announcing whether they think they resemble the baby's mom or dad.

Men: They take one quick look at the baby, laugh, and loudly say, "Well, it's a good thing he takes after his mama!" Then they slap the dad on the back and wink at the mom. They also point out physical features of the baby (long legs, frying pan hands, etc) and comment on how those features will serve him well at whatever sport those features are well-suited for.

Baby Advice
Women: Women will quiz the parent regarding baby care topics pertinent to baby's age or whatever milestones baby should be reaching ("How many hours is he sleeping?" "Is he getting enough tummy time?"). The women listen carefully to your answer, and if they think you may be lagging in some area or in need of help, they will begin doling out helpful suggestions.

Men: One man (who I was later told had been a little...overserved Maker's Mark) told me (repeatedly) that I should allow my child to explore his interests and be supportive, even if he isn't interested in sports. He warned me that if I did not support my son and play an active role in his life, that somebody else would take an interest in my child, and that I would not like what that person does with my child. And, in case his message was too subtle, he rephrased it and said that if my son wants to play piano instead of baseball, I better be at that piano recital whether I want to be or not, because if I'm not there, pedophiles will be there waiting to molest my son. Duly noted.

A Sharp-Dressed Baby
Women: When bringing baby out with a group of women, Mom's efforts to dress and accessorize baby will not go unnoticed. ("Oh my gosh, a monkey onesie! Did you know this was a "monkey" baby shower?! Everybody, look at Robinson's monkey onesie!)

Men: If baby is decked out in support of any athletic team, men will definitely take notice and comment about how baby is "ready for the big game!"

Baby Talk
Women: Women like to ask the baby thoughtful questions, and then laugh as he "answers" the question with his jibber-jabber nonsense. Also, there's coos and baby babble.

Men: Pretty much the same as women.

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