The gentle art of discrimination

Written by: Josh

A lot of people like babies. Me? I could pretty much take or leave them.

They’re kind of like that smiley neighbor. Or macaroni salad. It's nice to see them once in a while, but I don’t really think about them when they’re not around. But some people are really into this whole “other people’s baby” culture. They hone in on a newborn like a maternal Tomahawk, and it’s up to you to intercept and shoot down the occasional bogey. Because let’s face it, not everyone is privileged enough to hold Baby.

Wow, how self-righteous are we? Passing judgment as to who cuts the proverbial baby mustard? Who is actually worthy of holding our spawn? Freely discriminating on a daily basis without so much as a peep from the ACLU, new parents are right up there with pregnant women with their smug sense of self-importance. Oh, you don’t want to tell me what names you’re thinking about? Guess what? I don’t care! I was being polite!

I’ll attempt to play devil’s advocate here and say that it’s not arrogance on our part, but merely a self-defense mechanism. Like the LAPD, parents are here to protect and to serve. And what serves the best interest of Baby is not always a laissez faire attitude toward who gets to hold him. There is a screening process, a regulation panel and an oversight committee. And you are all of the above.

Consider this common scenario: Your friends are over, you’re eating tapas and sipping Gato Negro, and Baby (not unlike a dog) eventually becomes a centerpiece when the conversation lulls. Suddenly everybody is interested (not to mention wine-brave), and the brilliant idea is posited to pass him around like breath mints at an garlic festival. As you survey the potential holders, it dawns on you that there is at least one attendee here who you wouldn’t let hold Baby under the most pristine conditions. You are now firmly in a pickle. You must choose—Baby or friend.

It’s cliche, but sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Sense what is going on and either you or your partner should grab Baby; he can then be meted out and rationed like that 25 year-old single malt as opposed to flopping around in the breeze like a discarded ten-spot just waiting to be snatched up. But invariably, even with this preventative measure, you will have to face the question, “Can I hold him?” when the answer is going to be a resounding NO. Now of course you don’t want to offend, and it is a delicate situation, because even the slightest hesitation or hedging can severely hurt feelings and bruise egos. Again, have a good offense ready to go.

Here are five good deflections to use to keep your friends, but more importantly, keep Baby out of their unsavory clutches:

1. Are you wearing perfume/cologne/anti-perspirant/make-up/gold/silver/etc.? I think Baby might be allergic.

2. I was actually just about to put the little party pooper down, but I’ll bring him around to say goodnight to everyone.

3. I think he’s about at his limit for stimuli today. If we push it, he may just start crying for hours on end, and I don’t want you to get a complex.

4. You can, but I’m pretty sure he’s got a full diaper. You want to change him first?

5. Sure, but we’re out of burp rags, and he could go Old Faithful on you at any moment. Ooh, that’s not silk, is it?

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