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Is He a Good Baby?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I think that's up there with "how are you feeling" during pregnancy as one of the most annoying questions.

Why? Well, two reasons...

1.) What the heck is a "good" baby? I'm sorry, I thought all babies were good. But apparently, if your child manages to sleep through the night super early or doesn't care if you ever hold him/her, or eats on a schedule from the start, they are suddenly a good baby.

I'm always tempted to say "No, I birthed the spawn of satan, he's an eeeeviiiil baby."

2.) They don't really want to hear the answer unless it's "oh yes, he's wonderful." I know this because when people would ask me that the first few weeks, I'd respond and say "he's a GREAT baby, but he's much fussier than my daughter was." It was the total truth, but you could tell they had no interest in hearing it. (Just like no one wants to hear about your 'roids or frequent vomiting or back pain while pregnant, they just want to hear that you "feel great!")

So why the heck do people say this? When did quiet, complacent babies get deemed "good" and what does that make the babies that actually require a little attention? Bad? Evil? Satan?

My friend Judy has decided that she'll simply respond "Well, she did get that tatoo..." when someone asks this about her newborn.

I like that line of thinking...

Perhaps my new line will be... "Oh no, we've already had to ground him twice and just last week we caught him trying to steal the car..."

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:28 PM |  

    I think that in terms of describing babies, the adjective good has dropped its typical (and judgmental) meaning as an antonym of bad or evil. Rather it is just shorthand for easy.

    Shame, though, that the term can just dash a parent's parenting esteem. Not having a "good" baby seems like a failure, no?

    I have an opposite reaction. When I hear about a "good" baby, who latch is textbook, nuses for nice predictable intervals, sleeps for nice long stretches, grows along a predictable curve, cuts teeth painlessly, poops turds that smell of gum drops and petunias -- I just want to tear said good baby's parents a new one.

    Sigh.

  2. Anonymous Carrie | 4:31 PM |  

    oh I despise that question too. Once or twice I said: "Well he/she hasn't robbed any banks yet."

    They always laugh. I don't. Sigh. Aren't all babies good?

  3. Blogger Jennifer | 6:03 AM |  

    See it's that misuse of the word good that bothers me. As my husband likes to say "words mean things" and you can't just change the meaning willy-nilly. ;)

    Now if people would say "Is he an easy baby" I think I'd have an entirely different reaction.

    I just dislike the implications that good things aren't work. Almost everything "good" that I have required a lot of work, ya know?

    Now excuse me while I go laugh about the idea of turds that smell like gum drops and petunias. ;)

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:50 AM |  

    I found that if you respond with an in depth discussion of the baby's typical day, most people stop asking!

    My favorite was people at church who seemed to be commending my excellent parenting when my infant sat through Mass without much more than a peep now and then. He's a baby! They sleep, eat and poop. If he's doing either of the first two, no one is going to notice (unless they're starring at my breast!). If he pooped, no one would consider me a "bad" parent, unless of course I didn't take him out and change him!

    Now, if those people would comment on my "baby's" behavior at Mass now that he's two! I don't think they think I'm an excellent parent anymore. :-)

  5. Blogger Jennifer | 9:41 AM |  

    You know, I think that's a good point...the extended "wow, what a good baby" comments that comes when baby sleeps...well again...so if the baby dares cry, it's a bad baby? Or I'm somehow a bad parent?

    I found it very easy to get a little "smug" (despite my efforts not to) when my first was a baby because she was so quiet and calm when we went out in public. She was nearly 9 months old before she got active and loud enough that I couldn't keep her in church, whereas some friends had to start hanging out in the lobby at 3 or 4 months.

    Then I had a second child that was the polar opposite of my first. From the moment he was born, he wanted to be held, he had a fussy first month or so and though he's settled down quite a bit, he's still a "hold me!" baby.

    Does that make him bad? No, it makes him different. Maybe that's why I get annoyed with that line of thinking...because I once had a "good" baby and now I have a "real" baby and it bothers me that people don't think he counts as "good."

  6. Blogger ContentWorth | 9:05 AM |  

    Crap. After reading this post I can't get past it when people ask me if Riley is a "good baby". Of course he is, as are all other babies I've ever seen.

    The real question should be something more like, "is he happy right now?" "What's his newest accomplishment" or some other thing that you can actually answer.

    If they don't want to hear about your baby, they shouldn't ask. Please, we new moms need other topics of convo too! Just don't diss our baby.

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