A pleasant-enough-looking older lady strolled over to where we were picnicking today.
“Can I ask you something?” she smiled.
“Sure,” I obliged.
“How old is your baby?”
“Oh, she’s 17 months,” I replied.
“Oh, she’s TINY!!” the woman gasped.
“For a moment there, I thought she was a MUCH younger baby, but then she got up and WALKED!! So I just HAD to come over here and ask how old she is.”
Immediately, and characteristically, I launched into fumbling, apology-mode.
“Um, according to the statistics, she’s actually quite tall for her age. She’s quite slight I suppose, but she eats heaps!”
What a really wanted to say (what I should have said) is:
how dare you come nicey-niceing over here and proceed to put down my child, and, by extension, me? How, in any way, is this either pleasant or helpful? Do you realise that when you say someone’s kid is small, you’re basically saying either: (a) that she is developmentally backward or (b) I don’t feed her enough. Don’t you realise I’m a first-time Mum, so I’m extremely anxious, you bitch!
But I didn’t say any of this.
And I was furious with myself for the rest of the afternoon.
I should have jumped to Magoo’s defence, and to my own.
It would be as though I had walked up to someone really short and said: “oh shit, for a moment there I thought you were sitting down! How come you’re so titchy?”
But for some reason, when it comes to random, unwarranted and inexpert commentary, your child is public property, subject to community consultation.
Am I being ridiculous? Has this happened to you? How did you respond?