From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com.
Earlier this week a barista at the mall insisted on trying to guess my daughter’s age.
“Three months, right?”
I forced a smile, “She’ll be seven months next week.”
“Oh, wow, she’s a small one, isn’t she?”
“Um, no actually. She’s in the 90% percentile for height.”
Did this person think that was some sort of compliment? Or that I enjoy having strangers tell me that my daughter looks somehow stunted for her age? Probably not. He was just being nice, showing interest in my baby, but he didn’t stop to think about the implications. I doubt he would have thought it was such a good idea to guess my age. And what if she was small for her age? Does he think that would be something a parent would want pointed out?
And while I’m on the subject . . .
Baby screams when I put a hat on her. This winter I, of course, made her wear one on cold days. But when the weather is passably warm, well I choose my battles. On a recent cool day, I gave in to the disapproving stares and forced one on her, but after a few minutes of screaming I took it off. Her hair was slick with sweat. So no, she doesn’t need a hat.
No, you may not touch my baby. I know she’s crazy cute, but quite frankly I don’t know where your hands have been, stranger on the street. And I do mean even just a quick little squeeze of her hand. Most people are pretty good about resisting the urge. Few people are as clueless as the woman in the Encinitas Starbucks who stuck her fingers IN MY DAUGHTER’S MOUTH on a recent family vacation.
Squeezing a socked foot is, for me, acceptable, but you should always ask first. I know, I know, I’m hogging all the baby snuggles, but humor me. I don’t consider myself to be a germophobe*. I don’t always wash the binky that fell on the floor and I think that exposure to a reasonable amount of germs is good for the immune system. But let me make that choice.
“That baby needs more hair.” Yeah, I’ll get right on that.
This brings me to a truth I have discovered, dating back to when I became noticeably pregnant. The only thing you should ever say to a pregnant woman or parent is “You/your child are/is beautiful.” That’s it, ever, trust me. You might be surprised to discover how many women I know who were asked if they were having twins when they weren’t or if they were due “any day now” when their estimated due dates were months away.
It’s sounds like such a cliché; no one could possibly be that insensitive, but oh, they are. Most people wouldn’t make such an obvious faux pas, but think before you speak. You just don’t know what someone is going through or where he or she is coming from. The expectant mom you just told she “hardly even looks pregnant” might have just found out that her baby is measuring a few weeks behind and she’s freaking out. I could go on, but you get the picture.
And if you just feel like you can’t in all honesty say “that’s a beautiful baby” and you still feel the overwhelming urge to make some sort of comment (which, I promise, you don’t really need to do), take the advice of my family friend. Say, “My goodness, what a baby!”
Most people say and do the appropriate things, but not all. Fight the urge to give parenting advice or critique appearance. Don’t tell a pregnant woman ordering a latte that she shouldn’t have caffeine. (BTW, according to the March of Dimes, 200 mg a day is fine and that single shot latte has 75 mg, that can of diet coke 38 mg.)
Like my favorite blogger, Queen of the Couch, has said, if you see a pregnant woman doing lines of coke off the bar, please intervene. Otherwise stick with “You look beautiful.” Everyone’s happy, and no one gets punched in the face.
* I know this isn’t the technical term, but it sounds better than mysophobe.
Borderstan welcomes Leslie Jones to our team of contributors. A resident of the Dupont-Logan area, she and her husband decided to stay in the neighborhood, in a 2-bedroom apartment, after the arrival of their daughter. No outer neighborhoods or suburbs, yet, for Leslie. She will be writing about urban motherhood every two weeks for Borderstan in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com
The DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) Parenting Center has been a wonderful resource for me as a new parent. I’ve taken a CPR/First Aid workshop, a nine week Tuesday afternoon baby music class, and an eight week Wednesday afternoon baby swim class. There were also weekend options for both classes.
In the music class there were about a dozen moms and babies. Baby loved watching the other babies, and the song “Baby Beluga” has become a household favorite. The class is geared towards parents, the babies are still a little young to really interact, but scarves and rattles were provided for a little entertainment. Don’t stress if it’s been awhile since you’ve dusted off the old vocal cords.
The swim class was a little bigger. There were about two dozen moms, and this time we even had a dad! The first few weeks Baby was a bit concerned about what was happening, but by the end she was kicking around and I have high hopes for the 2028 Olympics.
The CPR class was geared towards babies and children. It’s disturbing to contemplate ever needing to use these skills, and it may scare the living daylights out of you to think about, but it’s better to know this kind of stuff than not.
Sunday Story Time is a free program running from 10 to 11 am through May 20. Children ages 0 to 4 can play in the preschool space from 10 to 10:30 am, and then enjoy story time from 10:30 to 11 am.
The DCJCC Parenting Center offers classes year-round for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in everything from gymnastics and yoga to art and Spanish. They have classes Sunday-Friday and the average cost is $162 to $182 for eight weeks for non-members and $106 to $119 for members. Check out their schedule of classes and workshops online.
You should contact Miriam Szubin, Parenting Center coordinator, at [email protected] with any questions.
As the JCC says about its programs for families and children:
“Our Parenting Center provides families with support and guidance as they raise their young children, from newborns through age 4. We offers networking opportunities, resources, and programming with a wide variety of classes to meet the developmental and social needs of both young children and parents.
“You don’t have to be Jewish to get Centered in the City!… While the Center is designed primarily to fulfill the needs of the Jewish community and to preserve and enhance the culture, traditions, ethics, and philosophy of Judaism, membership and participation in activities of the Center are open to all residents of the metropolitan area.” (JCC)
Borderstan welcomes Leslie Jones to our team of contributors. A resident of the Dupont-Logan area, she and her husband decided to stay in the neighborhood, in a 2-bedroom apartment, after the arrival of their daughter. No outer neighborhoods or suburbs, yet, for Leslie. She will be writing every two weeks for Borderstan. Look for her columns: TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo) about urban motherhood.
From Leslie Jones. You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com
Allow Me to Introduce Myself
Borderstan is, in my experience, a great place to be a new mom. At some point during my pregnancy I freaked out and decided that we had to have a house with a big yard before the baby arrived, which would have meant moving out of our neighborhood. I spent hours looking at houses online and even dragged my belly to several open houses. For a number of reasons, buying a house at that time wasn’t a realistic option.
I came to accept that fact and now I’m so glad that we stayed where we are. We’ve lived in Borderstan for five years and I love everything about this community.
I have grocery stores, dry-cleaners, wine shops, restaurants, bars, clothing stores, gyms, bookstores, art galleries, and music venues, all within a few blocks of my home. My friends who live in other areas of DC have a difficult time getting me out of my neighborhood. Why would I leave when I have everything I need here?
Now that I have a six-month old daughter, having all of those things so close by has become even more important to me. I take Baby on long walks, and I feel like I’m still a part of this city and that I’m not so far removed from my old life. I am, for now, staying home with my daughter.
It is an amazing and wonderful experience, but it can be isolating. The fact that I can meet friends for lunch or take my daughter to an art gallery without having to load up the car, drive somewhere, and find parking is pretty awesome.
I’m still exploring Borderstan and learning about all of the opportunities offered here for parents and their children. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.