Mommyshame

STFU Parents: You Must Smile And Wave At Babies In 2016

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Happy New Year! Have you kissed any babies yet for good luck? (Is that a thing?) How about just waved or smiled at a baby? In 2016, you should definitely plan on it. At least, according to Facebook parents you should. I’ve already written about the importance of saying hello to every single child you lock eyes with so you don’t crush their innocent spirit, but my submissions inbox indicates that some terrible humans have apparently been slacking. More than ever, parents are attempting to convey on social media their growing frustration and deeply primal rage toward any adult who doesn’t make silly faces or chirp “bye-bye!” a half-dozen times at their baby while standing in line at airport security. This issue is about common fucking decency, since the lack of willful engagement with strangers’ babies directly impacts both our present and future—so please, read on.

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Wow, that’s deep stuff. The next time you’re at a checkout line in Target, ask yourself if you want to be a part of the problem or the solution. Do you want to utterly demolish the innate security a child feels when he repeatedly waves at you in the quiet car of a commuter train, or do you want to help this world be the type of place where children feel loved? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A smile warrior, or a no-wave policy jerk with a penchant for ignoring children and destroying their belief that the world is good? It’s really one or the other.

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In most cases of smile-and-wave abuse, parents are genuinely baffled as to why some people ignore their children. They assume those people are kinda sketchy at best, and evil baby-hating monsters who eat children like the witch in ‘Hansel and Gretel’ at worst. But in all seriousness, some people just don’t know how to react to a smiling and waving child. What if they’ve waved back to kids in the past, and the child’s paranoid parents barked at them about not talking to their child? What if the ‘evil baby hating monster’ just had a really bad day — the kind of bad day where your house is in foreclosure, or your mom has dementia, or every time you turn on the news, someone else is talking about Donald Trump? Isn’t it okay to get a pass sometimes? Or, if one so chooses—gasp!—all of the time?

Not that I’m trying to get too dark on the subject. Most of me thinks that waving and smiling back at a baby is harmless and easy. I personally feel that I do my best baby schmoozing at the coffee shop, as much as I hate to admit it. I don’t mean to encourage overly-excited children, but I’m easily persuaded into playing a lively game of peek-a-boo that inevitably entertains me much more than the kid. Perhaps we’re all just “smile-and-wave-at-babies people,” or we aren’t? And that’s okay! Or maybe parents are only focusing on the smaller percentage of people who don’t wave back at their babies, rather than the presumed majority that do? Percentage-wise, I would bet that more people, by far, tend to wave back. Is it even justified for parents to get upset about the ones who don’t, regardless of whether it’s because they hate children or are having a bad day? Even if it’s easy to wave back, some people just don’t feel like it. That’s life.

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Sure, it makes sense for parents to occasionally wonder why someone didn’t say ‘hello’ back or smile. (“What a turd! I bet she doesn’t even have kids!“) But on social media, it seems like a pointless thing to post about. Of course, with this subject in particular, parents tend to find a lot of support on social media—especially since so many other parents can relate. It’s no wonder my “Acknowledge My Baby!” submissions folder has several dozen submissions in it. The problem is, they all sound pretty much the same. Some updates contain a bit more hostility than others, but they all revolve around the same absurd complaint surrounding a fleeting moment in time. Who cares what happened during the six minutes you waited in the pharmacy? Did the offensive person expose his genitals, or open your kid’s drink and pour it over his head? Okay, then, you have nothing to complain about. Whining on Facebook about a stranger not being cordial to your toddler is akin to bitching about a random car cutting you off on the highway. You can do it, but it’s a solid example of #firstworldproblems if I’ve ever heard one.

So this year—this brand new year—it might behoove more strangers to wave back at enthusiastic children simply because parents want them to, but parents should back off, too. No one cares if your kid was briefly ignored while he was waiting in line at the movies. Quit complaining about it on Facebook, because in 2016, ain’t nobody got time for that. Let’s check out some past examples.

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