Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Your Baby Looks Like....

Your baby looks like David Letterman. 

Ever met a baby that looked so much like David Letterman that you absolutely needed to make the comment?  Thankfully, I haven't.  Not exactly.  I have wanted to say: your baby looks like an old man.  The baby was a little girl and I did actually say it.  Outloud.  But, I was alone on my couch perusing through Facebook photos so it didn't much matter.

I try to keep these type observations to myself.  Or, to the empty rooms of my apartment.  I've decided that any reference to a baby looking older than 6 months should be avoided.  Even if the baby looks like an adorable senior citizen, even if you mean it in the kindest way possible, it might not be perceived as a compliment.  I get offended when strangers comment on my dog's appearance.  Just last week, a youngish, hipsterish fellow told me that my dog looked like Baxter from Anchor Man.  I was pissed, though I thanked him.  Baxter's a fine looking dog, but he is a HE and my dog is a SHE.  And, my dog's looks far exceed fine.

Keeping it classy.

Consider this scenario: a baby who looks EXACTLY like one parent.  This little bundle defines the gross term "spitting image".  Do you comment about the obvious likeness? It seems like a no brainer - Yes.  It makes sense (genetically) and what parent doesn't want there child to look like them (or their spouse)?  Think again.  There are parents out there that don't appreciate your opinion that the baby looks like anyone other than them, the other parent included.

One final, even trickier, scenario: a baby who looks like no one.  Your brown hair, brown eyed friend and her brown hair, brown eyed husband introduce you to their blond hair, blue eyed baby.  The baby's nose is an original and her mouth is somehow the exact opposite of both parents' mouths.  There's a slight similarity between the shape of her eyes and the shape of one parent's eyes, kind of...not really.  Overall, this baby may have been switched at birth because the resemblance is shockingly absent.  Do you comment - where did this blond beauty come from?  Do you make a joke of it - someone was sleeping with the mailman.  Do you throw the question back at the parents - who do you think she looks like?  Do you ignore it altogether?

I've encountered all three of these scenarios at one time or another.  I've met the baby who looks like George Bush Sr.  I've met the mother who doesn't like people commenting that her baby looks like her husband.  I've met the baby who looks like neither of his parents.  Being that I'm not typically quick on my feet in the face of potentially awkward conversation, I've managed to say the wrong thing in all situations.  The lesson that I've learned and the most simplified rule of thumb is to always choose the path of least resistance.  When it comes to babies, even a slight bobble of words can create a highly offended parent.  It's a sensitive subject and understandably so.  What is this non-resistant path?  Just say "she/he is a combination of both parents."  If this is a complete lie and you're not comfortable with that (by the way, paaaaalease, it's so not a big deal), then just don't make any look-a-like comment.  Stick with general terms like "cute" and "adorable" and "perfect". 

Ever been in one of these situations?  Have any words of wisdom to share?  Moms (and dads...if you read...) how do you feel when someone makes a comment about your baby's appearance or resemblance to someone else?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Such a funny post! My brother, sister and I are total blends of my parents (like their two faces were morphed together), and look eerily similar. My husband and his two sisters are "parts" children (like you have dad's nose and you have mom's eyes) and looking nothing alike. This was true even when we were all little, and I know my mom loved hearing "they look so much like the both of you", and my husband's mom hated hearing the mailman joke. My best friend gets a high out of hearing her 6-month old son looks like her, so I throw that out once in a while just to make her happy, even though secretly I think he looks like an alien :). In these types of situations, flattery and diplomacy are always best.