Philosophical Monday: Stranger Engager or “How Old Is That Baby in the Stroller? Wanh! Wanh!”


Betty was SO happy in this picture-- b/c she was pooping we found out 10m later. It's the smelly things in life that make babies smile big.

So far there’s been one huge unexpected side effect to having a baby: having to talk to a ton of strangers.

You see, I’m one of those people who almost never starts up conversations with strangers due to shyness and intense focus when I’m out and about — I don’t go anywhere to just walk around or hang out. Whether it be a mall or restaurant, I’m always there on a mission, w/ little time for chit-chat.

So I was rather surprised to discover that newborns are basically stranger-magnets. There are few guarantees in life, but I do know now that if I’m out with Betty, somebody will ask me about her.

Stranger: “How precious! Is it a boy or a girl?*”

Me: Girl.

Stranger: “Oh, she’s new isn’t she? How old is she?”

Me [usually I have to think about it]: She’s [however many] weeks.

Stranger: Well, I have [insert: grandbaby, niece/nephew, etc] that’s [whatever age]

Me: Wow, that’s great…

This conversation, which I’m guaranteed to have at least once whenever I’m outside of my house w/ Betty, wouldn’t be so bad, except it often takes place at awkward times. Like when I’m trying to change her in the bathroom or load her into the car or buy something — it’s weird to have to carry on a separate conversation with the cashier about your baby whilst checking out. Oh, and did I mention: it’s almost the SAME conversation every single time. And it’s super-awkward, b/c what do you say after this exchange?

Usually the conversation peters off, while I try not to feel rude for not saying anything further. The journalist in me knows how to keep a conversation going on the barest of steam, but the time-conservationist in me won’t allow further questions on my part if I’m not getting paid to ask them.

Also, as a shy person, I don’t really get the whole concept of talking to strangers outside of a party or social situation, so it’s hard for me to put myself in these people’s shoes. It would never even occur to me to engage a person with a baby in conversation — even now that I have one. So I wonder if these people go up to mothers of newborns all day having near-identical exchanges. It all seems rather strange to me.

However, I’ve been told by others, that most people just like babies and I’m actually the strange one for never, ever having asked a parent I didn’t know about her or his kid even after I had one.

Go figure.

The bright side is finding out that people are so very attracted to new life. It’s a rather charming aspect of the human race in my opin.


*People don’t always ask if Betty’s a boy or a girl, but sometimes they do, and I don’t get offended, as I’m finding that babies all kind of gender-neutral out once you put them in a non-pink onesie. But we did have weird encounter w/ a middle-aged receptionist who said, “Then why is she dressed in blue?” after we answered “girl.” Well, 2 reasons: we were given a ton of hand-me-down onesies from an awesome friend w/ three boys and Betty looks beyond fabu in light blue. Either way, why does it matter? Betty will have plenty of time in her self-dressing to go completely girly — if she wants to.