Welcome to the Baby Games

Before I had kids, I’d never heard of the Baby Games.

After all, how could babies incite competition? Aren’t they supposed to make us quieter, gentler people?

Um, no. 

It actually started in pregnancy. As soon as mine was announced, women circled me, trying to recruit me to their particular team. There are lots of pregnancy teams to choose from: The Basketball Bellies, the Gain-All-You-Wants,  the Go-Natural-or-Go-Homes, the Epidurals-or-Busts…

Some women will go to great lengths to get you to join their team. You look great! You look big! You look small! One woman told me I was gaining all the weight in my ass and if I kept it up, I’d give birth to a hippo cub. Another told me I wasn’t gaining enough weight and if I kept it up, I’d give birth to a chia pet. To others, I was negligent for using a midwife at the hospital. When I told a pro-midwife friend that I hadn’t ruled out an epidural, she told me I’d never walk again if I let the bad doctor stab me in the back with that poison.

You can’t win! The only thing to do is learn to ignore the comments. Trust your body and your own choices. But let me tell you, it’s hard to ignore someone telling you your ass is fat. Hard to resist the urge to unleash a fat ass whooping on those dumb enough to say such things.

So I avoided picking a team. But of course, pregnancy is just training camp. The real Baby Games don’t begin until the squirt is actually born.

I understand the natural need to compete. I am by nature a very competitive person. I like to win. I like those around me to win too (unless they’re playing against me, of course). But I was gobsmacked by the competition my tiny son incited right off the bat.

Most people would say women don’t compete, they compare. Nuh-uh. We compete. Before kids, we might compete over our jobs, our bodies, our partners, our social circles, our accomplishments. But babies take it to a whole new level. Babies we create and we rear, and we see them as the ultimate reflection of ourselves. Parenthood is the perfect breeding ground for competition.

Welcome to the Baby Games. 

Is your son holding up his head? No?????? Hmmmm. Mine did at 3-days old. O really? Well my son smiled at 2-weeks. Good for him! But that’s nothing. My daughter laughed at barely a month old. Wow! I’m so happy for you. Yes, yes. I’m sure my son will be reading before he’s 2. He’s just brilliant. I’m sooooo glad I had a girl. They’re much calmer and smarter. O, really? Because I desperately wanted a boy. They’re much heartier and way less manipulative.

My mother warned me from Day One to boycott the Baby Games. You’ll never win, she said. People choose to compete in fields where they know they’ll come out on top. If they can’t beat you in milestones, they’ll get you in growth. Or vice versa.

Still, it was hard to resist. At every turn there seemed to be points of comparison. In the early days it’s all about smiling, laughing, sitting, crawling. Then it becomes about babbling, talking, walking, playing. Once friend, who’s eldest daughter is 2, told me she looks at other kids who aren’t talking or playing at her daughter’s level and thinks there’s something wrong with that kid.

I’m not being judgmental, she actually said, I just wouldn’t want to be their parent.

Jeeeeeez.

I admit to partaking. It made me terribly insecure that my son wasn’t babbling much by seven months. But he sat up alone at 5 months, a point I made to many friends with babies. I could feel it welling in me, this need to compare, to see where my kid fell. I even read the “Is your Baby Gifted?” chapter in our baby book and looked to my son’s behaviour to see if he fit the bill.

One afternoon, I sat and played with my son. He pulled his favorite rattle to his face and examined it. His little blue eyes crossed from the effort, and the drool pooled around his neck, a glistening coat of saliva on his soft white skin. I watched my cross-eyed, drool-soaked darling and thought:

You are Perfect. I’m the one with the big f&#(@& problem.

Here is my precious little boy, trying so hard to make his way, learning more in a day than I learn in a year, absorbing every detail of his new world, growing, and loving me with all his heart despite my own massive faults. Why do I care if he crawls a little earlier but talks a little later than his peers? To that point, why do I care if the precious babies around him crawl later or talk earlier? Can’t we all just get along?

The final straw came at a dinner party I recently attended. A friend, who’s baby girl was barely 11 months at the time, told the crowd that his daughter could say 15 different words. Every parent in the room considered this. Fifteen words at 11 months. Was he bragging? Certainly some people it the room took it as such.

Like what? said another venom-spewing father. Ba? Bi? Bo? Da? Ma? Pa? This isn’t Scrabble… you don’t get to count all the two letter words.

Ouch.

This exchange was the final straw for me. On the car ride home, I vowed to my husband that I was going to take my mother’s sage advice and boycott the Baby Games from then on. There is no clean win in the Baby Games; all victories come at the expense of someone else’s little person. And that’s totally and utterly wrong.

So I boycott them! No more competing, no more comparing. All babies are perfect in their own way. My son is his own independent little man who will grow and learn and develop at his own pace.

Besides, soon I won’t have time for these trifling sort of things. I’ll be too busy once my kid starts walking, which should be any day.

I know… he’s early. That’s my boy!

Advertisements

~ by thebookofmommy on February 22, 2008.

11 Responses to “Welcome to the Baby Games”

  1. My Mother in Law compares my kid with my niece. It makes me so mad. And, as much as I try to not play into her game, it makes me insanely insecure and worried about my baby. You should start doing what I do. When someone (anyone) tries to compare their child to mine -I make some outlandish claim. For instance -“What your child can do is AMAZING -but it is nothing compared to my kid. He is 11 months old and yesterday he got out of his playpen, walked into the bathroom, got onto the toilet, did number 1 AND 2 – wiped, put his diaper back on and got back in the pen. Let them top that!
    http://www.mamamatters.wordpress.com

  2. I spend a lot of time around kids…hundreds actually. By the time they are eight, they are all just about the same.

    But, while we are comparing…thy these…

    My six week ago can…

    1. Projectile vomit almost two feet.

    2. Crap two times the volume he eats.

    3. Go three days without sleeping for any stretch longer than two hours.

    Top that!

  3. I seriously want to send this to everyone that’s ever played this game with me! There was the “how long did you breastfeed?” game, the “when to potty train your child!” game, and the one that’s pulling me all different ways now: “Homeschool? Private school? Public school?” Any way you cut it, I’ll forever be ruining my child!

    Love your blog! Keep it up!
    Pam

  4. Women seem to take the development of their babies very personally, as if it reflected the value of their genes, or maybe made that big ass worth while.

    I was more personally involved in the development of my children than their mother was. That meant I was ALWAYS proud and astounded at every little thing they did.

    There is no better place to share this than your circle of friends and family who have children. People who don’t have children don’t get it. But, unfortunately, some people who do have children don’t get it either.

    You can tell when someone doesn’t get it when you try to share something exciting with them and they respond with a challenge “Well, my baby did this…” They didn’t get it. I wanted to share something special, not compete with them.

    From the experience of having raised four kids from womb to school age, I have to say that all babies are the same in that every one of them is special and wonderful. And every parent should be able to share something special and have other parents ooh and aah instead of challenging the value of the experience.

  5. I dislike the competition of parents over their children, it’s a “boycott” I’ve been doing since I became a mother. I don’t want to compare my children to other peoples’ children–because they aren’t their’s. They’re mine.

    Quite honestly, I don’t care how other people raise their children, what they think is right or wrong, or which way is best or worst. If my children had all come out hairy slugs, I would still believe they were the most beautiful hairy slug babies anyone had ever seen.

    I have the support of my husband, the love of my children, and that’s all we need! 🙂

    Way to go on the boycott! 🙂

  6. I shuddered reading this (partly from the giggles, of course). My husband works with a guy who had a baby girl on the same day at the same hospital as ours. Bad news. They saw each other at work every day and it really got out of hand quickly. It wasn’t Baby Games, it was Baby Wars. Eventually I put my foot down and the husband stopped talking to that guy so I’m sure word around the office is that our little girl is a mutated lump but that’s okay. The sense of relief is completely worth it.

    Wonderful blog, I’m so glad I stumbled on it. 🙂

  7. Giggles oh – I love your blog – you are hilarious and refreshing . Having boy/boy twins means we have direct comparisons every day J can do this and S this. I have not even really bothered to write down milestones OOPs.They will copy each other soon enough.

    I agree I want to send this to everyone that has ever played baby games with me too! I also have a 14 yr been there and done that.

    Each child is precious in their own way and yes they will all, by the grace of God, walk and talk …run away and chat back.
    I wonder why we spend all that time urgently waiting for it the first few years and then we spend the next 15 years telling them to sit down and shut up.

  8. Thank you all for the awesome and encouraging comments. I love your stories and I’m glad we’re all in it together (but not competing, of course.)

  9. This was really cute and so true.

  10. Guilty as charged. But you make me want to be a better person. 🙂

  11. I will say that I’m sure my mother played the baby game when I was a child, and it bled into comparison games as I got older… Meaning whenever I would do something my mom did or didn’t like she would ask what/how my friends were doing. It really drove a rift between us. Stopping these games are great for you and for your child. way to go 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: