Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Parental" Over-reactions

It's something amazing about having an infant: complete and utter strangers, with whom you have never had a conversation or any sort of interaction, feel comfortable with giving advice on how to raise your child. More specifically, people feel obligated to jump in and inform you when they feel you're "wrong" with your child.

Yesterday, The Boy and I were at the social security administration offices. Nothing serious - I lost my social security card and needed to get a new one. The room was really full, as was usual at 10:30AM - mental note, get there really early to reduce the wait. I sat down on the floor in the front of the room, where I could have the stroller and diaper bag near me and allow The Boy some freedom of movement.

So, The Boy was playing with my car keys while I was settling us into place. This is something that he does regularly, considering that babies love keys. He was chewing on my actual car key, which is a big, long key. There is no way that he can swallow this key, or the key ring - it's wide and long. A nearby lady decided to let me know that chewing on the key is dangerous and that I should stop him from doing it.

Great. Thanks. I disagree. First of all, he chews on "hard" things all the time - it's the nature of the beast. He plays with a pot and a wooden spoon in the kitchen and chews on that - if it hurt, wouldn't he stop doing it? I mean, that seems to be the best way to learn something, as cruel as that might seem. It's the old joke:

Patient: "Doctor, Doctor! It hurts when I do this!"
Doctor: "Well, don't do that."

Granted, this lady wasn't as bad as the people that strike up random conversations about breastfeeding v. formula (I'm sorry, do I know you well enough to discuss my wife's breasts?), my choice of diapers, my choice of career or other baby things. And, there is the old - and true - saying: "It takes a village to raise a child."

It's just interesting. The assumption by this lady was, "You're a man. You don't know how to take care of a baby."

Huh. Interesting.

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