I’m not a celebrity, but I play one at the mall. At least this is how I felt when my children were babies. Nothing grabs attention like a baby, and honestly, mine were friggin’ adorable.
We drew crowds. Sometimes I liked this. Sometimes I just wanted to get in and out of Starbucks undisturbed.
Either way, any time we braved the outdoors, we were certain to run into these seven types of people when you take your baby out in public.
The FBI Interrogator
Is this your baby? What’s their name? How old are they? Are they sleeping well? How much do they weigh? Where did you give birth? Did you give birth vaginally? How many stitches did you need? What’s your social security number?
This person has to touch your baby. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they just go for it. They are especially plentiful and aggressive during cold and flu season. Like a moth to a flame, these people see a baby and zoom on in with their filthy, germy stranger hands. One lady was so hell-bent on feeling up my baby that her husband quite literally had to physically pry her hands, finger by finger, off my child.
Want to know how many child experts there are in the world? Take your baby out in public. “You have to do breastmilk and formula at the same time,” insisted my husband’s former coworker whom I had met maybe twice, but felt comfortable enough to talk about my boobs loudly in a crowded store.
You will get all kinds of advice from well-meaning, but clueless strangers. My husband’s standard response was always, “Something to think about.” There’s no way to argue that.
This person cannot deal with the fact that your two-month-old is not wearing shoes. What kind of parent are you? The looks I would get during the two seconds it took me to transfer my sans-coat baby from the heated car to the warm, all-encompassing wrap carrier in the winter. Clearly, my child would be better off raised by wolves.
These people don’t know you, but they are absolutely sure that from the 0.3 seconds they have seen you in action you are the worst parent on earth.
You have a baby, so surely you would like to hear a perfect stranger’s life story. Their baby was born in 1987, and here is everything you need to know about this person who is now in their 30s, but was once baby, and how this stranger parented them. Come for the coffee, stay for the sleeping habits of a random child in the 80s.
These people take things just that one step too far. “Can I hold your baby?” Strange from someone you have never seen before, but people like holding babies. “Can I hold your baby – in the middle of this swimming pool?” No, ya weirdo. “You toddler is gorgeous!” Thank-you, stranger at the train station. “Can I hug him?”
WTF. These are actual people I have experienced. They are out there.
New parents live for this person. They are the people who come along at just the right moment, and make all the difference to your day. They offer words of encouragement when your toddler is having a meltdown.
They make faces at your crying baby when you are on the verge of tears yourself. They are baristas who hold you baby so you can fix your coffee with two hands; strangers who give you a thumbs up when you are nursing in public and feeling self-conscious; other parents who let you know they’ve been there when you are about to lose it.
These are the unicorns of strangers. The diamonds in the ruff. The people you will talk about for years.
New parents, take heart. While most of these people you meet will get on your nerves in the moment, once your children are grown – you will become one of these types of strangers to another new parent. Aim for The Angel.