Before I was a dad I could be found talking about pretty much anything. But as a new parent goes, most of my conversations start off the same way.
“Hi. How are you? I’m fine thank you. My son? Yes he is doing great thank you for asking. He’s almost 10 months old now. Time flies. I know I know. He’s really growing up so fast. He’s already doing blank, blank and blank. It’s incredible. …blah blah blah”
Don’t read this wrong, I’m not complaining. I talk to a lot of people each day so it’s nice to at least have something to speak about besides work and the weather. I’m not particularly interesting. Thant’s fine. I can understand that (I don’t cry myself to sleep at night or anything). Plus it’s great to be able to exchange pleasantries and chat it up about my little boy.
Last week a friend asked (as they all do) about my son so I started to go into it. Tristan’s almost 10 months old. Babbling a lot, cutting teeth and trying very hard to figure out how to walk. Then it occurred to me, the friend I was talking to doesn’t have kids. He is just being nice. He doesn’t need the detail because he has nothing to compare it to. For his job he teaches english as a second language. Since english is barely my first (you’ll understand this the more you read my writing) I don’t ask him too much about it. I have nothing to compare it to. But I’m so used to talking to other parents at this point I almost forgot that not everyone knows what the hell I’m talking about.
Before I had a child I didn’t know how fast they developed. At a year I couldn’t have told you if a child should be walking or barely holding up its own head. I had no idea. Why would I?
There are two types of people that I talk to. Those with kids and those without. I have come to understand that I can tell the people without kids anything I want. If I don’t feel like talking about my son all day I can just say he’s great, he’s getting big and then move on to something else. Or I can make stuff up. (insert maniacal laugh) I can tell them that at 10 months my son is learning his colors, can count to 40 and has built an impressive model airplane collection. I can tell them that he is potty trained, makes his own dinner and is looking for a job where he gets to work with animals. I mean, they don’t know any different. So why not have a little fun.
Then there is the other group. The people I know with kids. The ones I can’t B.S. This group has been there and done that. This isn’t their first rodeo and all that jazz. Their children are the yardsticks to which all answers I give about my son are measured. When they ask how old Tristan is and I say 10 months they immediately retrieve the memory file of their kid at that age. They remember at 10 months exactly what their child had and had not already mastered.
Some are good and let me know that my son is right on track with that nod of approval and affirmation that I am not a failure. Other parents are not so kind. As if child rearing is a competition they are quick to one-up at every turn. I can tell them my son is babbling to which they reply that at 10 months their child was speaking in complex sentences and writing cursive. If I say my son can stand up independently of any object but has not yet walked, they reply that not only was their child walking at 10 months, but training with the Kenyans for the Boston Marathon.
So do I let these “so called super parents” get away with kind of talk or do I enter the ring? Maybe I should proclaim that my son is learning Mandarin and can recite the Periodic Table from memory? How about I casually drop that in my son’s spare time he is building phone apps. I can show them the growth carts fromt he doctor’s office that not only confirm my son will be 8 ft tall. But he will also be muscular, brilliant and have incredible hair. That ought to calm them down a bit.
Still, as competitive as I can be (just ask my sister if you don’t believe me) I’m content to tell people the facts when they ask and not bother when they don’t. Because in the end my son is happy, healthy and right on track. So by all means, please do ask about my son if you’re interested, and tell me to shut up if I ramble on for too long. I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. But also know that if I tell you that he has already passed his driving test, I might be pulling you leg.