"Our circle of friends has babies born within a few days/weeks of our child. The only negative is one couple who are obsessed with trying to compete with the rest of us. Now that the babies are here, it’s about the weight of the babies/who has teeth first/who rolled over first, etc. What is the best way to handle such silliness?" This advice column question is probably familiar to anyone who's been in the awkward -- yet bizarrely inevitable -- position of comparing their infant to someone else's baby.
Here's the posted answer: "A good response (for competitive anything) is to smile serenely and say, 'You win.' If they don’t get a clue and grow up, eventually they’ll get so miffed they’ll stop hanging around."
Yeah, okay. That works, assuming you enjoy dishing out passive-aggressive snark when faced with a perceived my-baby-is-smarter-than-yours situation. But I have a better idea.
The thing is, raising babies is a hell of a lot of work, but it's not exactly rocket science. Not to diminish the effort it takes ... but come on, you know what I'm saying? That first year is mostly about keeping them alive and strategizing how to dial their cry-holes down a notch or two. It feels hideously complicated when you're in the midst of it, though, and it's wildly consuming -- which is why parents of young babies have brains comprised of three main subjects:
• Do I have barf on my shirt?
• $%@& BABY
That's why they talk incessantly about their child and the child's milestones. Because they can't help it. Because their world is made up of poop, teeth, well-baby stats, and whether or not Junior is sleeping through the night.
Eventually, they'll realize that stuff isn't important in the long run. At some point, almost every parent feels a little silly for obsessing over milestones, because the reality is it doesn't matter if Baby Gourmet loved garlic-avocado hummus and sushi when she was 10 months old, she'll inevitably hit the maddening stage of surviving on crackers and oxygen. Just because one baby looks like a juicy Stay-Puft shortly after birth doesn't mean she's any healthier than her friend, the human string bean. And who gets excited about early walkers, anyway? FIRST-TIME PARENTS, that's who.
Point is, let 'em brag to their hearts' content. Don't bother snarking a fellow mom with a withering "You win," just smile and wait. Sooner or later, Braggy VonMensaOffspring will emerge from the baby fog ... and life will be a little less metric-based.
Did you know any baby braggers when your kids were little? How did you deal?
Image via Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr