Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Talking Up" Your Child

"Talking Up" Your Child

If you’re recently married, then the proverbial inquiries from parents and other talkative relatives on when your going to procreate have, no doubt, become the focus of conversation at family gatherings especially around Christmas and Thanksgiving.

But it gets worse. Suddenly your friends, who have been married less time than you, are expecting their first child. From this point on, going out to dinner with the newly married couple--commonly referred to as "couples’s night out"--becomes an arduous chore. The conversations which used to revolve around careers or movies or other innocuous, everyday topics have undergone a metamorphosis unbeknownst to you and your wife. As you wait for your appetizer in the restaurant, your friends--the expecting couple-- blindside you with words like "baby" or babyesque phrases like "baby shopping" or "baby nursery" or "breastfeeding" or the mother of all pregnancy words: "epidural"!

You and your wife have no idea what sudden changes are occurring to the conversation until it’s too late. By the time both of your brains register what's going on, you both feel like the dreaded "third wheel" with nothing to add to the conversation. At this time, the clock begins to slow and you begin to trade eye contact with your husband or wife non-verbally signaling a rapid retreat. Unfortunately, a retreat out of social gatherings which are more intimate such as a dinner is out of the question due to its conspicuous nature. So you’re forced to sit and listen to their baby talk along with every possible tangential topic relating to it. Finally, after they have used all available energy in feeding their cooperative monologue, the evening finally ends.

Weeks later when the couple calls you to set another dinner date you reluctantly ablidge. Rather than looking forward to the Friday or Saturday night "get-together", the 24 hours leading up to it hovers over you like the horrific anticipation of a dentist appointment to fix a painful tooth.

After several incidents like this with either friends or neighbors, my wife and I pledged that when it was our turn to have kids, we wouldn't put the people we know in this awkward predicament. Ideally, that sounded great at the time. However, when it was our son who came into the world, our lives went through a similar metamorphosis to what we experienced at dinner with our expecting friends some years earlier. Suddenly, our vernacular went from one that’s professionally driven to a database filled with automotapia. The phrase "going goo-goo, gah-gah" wasn't something we heard on the network TLC anymore. It words were uttered from us!

We tried implementing our "pledge" when friends called and honestly, we stuck to it very well. But slowly, that pledge has been slow eroding away. And you know it feels kind of good

Now 6 months into parenthood, our son is showing so much personality that our pledge which we made shortly before his birth just doesn't seem right. Just yesterday, he rolled over for the first time. For the rest of the day when we placed him on his stomach, he just rolled right back over. He must have done this 25 times! To not talk about his developmental achievements wouldn't be doing my child justice.

If you would have told me, say a year ago, that your son or daughter rolled over for the first time, I wouldn't have cared much. But now that we've brought a child into the world, our perspective has done a complete "180". The topics that we considered passé are now mainstream. Sure, my wife and I are still aware of "over-hyping" our child but that's not our main focus. I guess finding that middle ground between expressing to other how proud you are of your kids and over-hyping their accomplishments is one of many evolutionary elements of parenthood that I never fully understood until now.

So, here's to my son rolling over multiple times and to him pulling the string to his truck and to him waving his fingers and to him smiling when we...

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