I have been meaning to whine about this for a while, but the New York trip reminded me how often it occurs. As a new parent, I am often approached by strangers with unsolicited advice on how to raise my child. It may be as simple as a suggestion to help with teething pain, or it may be a lecture on how vaccinations lead to autism, so we shouldn’t give C his shots (NOT TRUE!) We were both warned by all our friends with kids that this happens and is to be expected. Babies seem to be one of these rare things that apparently break down social norms and make it permissible for strangers to make comments with impunity. (My leg was one as well after my ACL reconstructions when I was on crutches, but not to the same extent.) What I was not expecting was how much this happens to me, in particular, as the father. On the plane back, there were at least three women around 60 years of age (the most common offending group of people) who gave me helpful comments such as “you know, maybe his ears are hurting from the takeoff—you might want to try giving him a bottle” after I had of course fed him a whole bottle at takeoff, after which he had slept an hour before beginning to fuss which then led to the advice. K thinks I should have looked back in astonishment and exclaimed “What, he has ears?” to let the person know how obvious the advice was, and how it assumes I have no basic knowledge of how to take care of a baby. On the flip side, if C is happy, sleeping, or even simply not crying with me, I will get adoring looks, and when he is crying loudly, the looks are usually sympathetic. K more often will get looks of horror if C is crying, as if the person is thinking, My God, what an awful mother you are.” I guess there are some advantages to the low bar we fathers seem to have when it comes to raising children.
Note: I may have to start calling C “LLF” instead for “Little Lord Fauntleroy”. The actual LLF is so sweet, just like C, and they share their name. “Sir C” will also do quite nicely.