Being the parent of twins is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because of the sheer fact we were able to have them, a blessing because they survived their premature birth, and a blessing because they are by far one of the most important things in my life. But at the same time they are a curse. A curse because the sheer cost of raising twins is enough to wipe you out, a curse because they rarely want to sleep at the same time leaving you with little to no sleep on some nights, a curse because people constantly view the babies like a circus sideshow…With that said I want to take a break from my ZotFish posts to discuss baby interaction etiquette a little.
I understand that twins are one of those rare things that a lot of people get excited about, but if you’re going to express you’re excitement show some common courtesy. Ever since the wife and I bought a new stroller that is more open, making the babies more visible, it seems that everyone needs to stop us or make a comment about the fact we have twins. We understand the excitement and we appreciate the kind words, but we are really getting tired of the ones that show no common courtesy to us or the babies…So following a long day of irritating individuals I have compiled a list of rules or guidelines to follow when wanting to interact with babies; twins or not.
- Don’t just walk up and start interacting with someone’s baby. Poking your head in someone’s stroller without at least asking if they mind letting you see their baby is just rude. A simple, “Do you mind if I say hello to your babies?” is courteous to the parent of the baby or babies. Perhaps the parent is hoping the baby will go to sleep, or perhaps the baby is already asleep, or perhaps they simply don’t want the general public disturbing their infants.
- If you’re in a store don’t inconvenience the whole store by blocking aisles of traffic to visit with someone’s baby. This not only becomes an inconvenience for the other shoppers, but it also makes the family you’re interacting with look like accomplices to your rude ways. If you must interact with the baby kindly pull to the side. During a trip to Sam’s Club today a woman felt the need to stop and gawk at the babies as my wife pushed them in the stroller. She parked her cart diagonally across the aisle preventing myself and shoppers moving in both directions from easily continuing their shopping.
- If the parents of the child acknowledge your question or comments, but appear to still be trying to move forward with their shopping LET THEM GO! I can’t count the number of times my wife and I have been in a hurry trying to finish the shopping because either the babies are fussy, or the babies need to be changed, or we simply are just in a hurry to get somewhere, and someone stops us to have a in depth conversation about the babies.
- Use a filter; don’t ask rude or awkward questions. My daughter was born with a hemangioma on the top of her head. You would be amazed at how many people stop to talk to us about the babies and then go, “Oh my god what’s that on her head?” Or “Why does she have a big red thing on her head?” Seriously, that’s like going up to an amputee and asking, “Oh my god where did your leg go?” Stop and think before you ask parents questions that may be awkward or uncomfortable to answer.
Babies are an exciting and wonderful thing, but how you approach them and their family can turn a pleasant interaction into a miserable experience. Consider my rules above next time you feel the need to approach a family, but most of all use common sense. Babies are hard enough to deal with without an outside nuisance being added to the equation.