July 27, 2008

My First Mother Drive-By

It happened in a restaurant pub not too far from Galway, while watching my friend's 1.5 year old run around just enough to keep him entertained but hopefully not so much that there was a problem.

Some creepy old dude sitting at a bar stool leans back and advises me that the pacifier the kid's got in his mouth will ruin his teeth. And, in case I hadn't guessed, that he was not himself an orthodontist. Presumably in his mind, my main worry was whether he was a down-on-his-luck dentist cadging for business off tourists in a pub.

I told him that it seemed to make the baby happy. "Who is it really making happier?" he asked. Well.

There was a horrible wave of involuntary guilt. Am I ruining his teeth just so that I, creepy old dude, and everyone else in the frakking pub can have lunch in peace? Horrible guilt ... and this kid is not even my kid! Did I make the decision to get a pacifier for him? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) No. Horrible guilt.

Then I just sort of turned away. I'm trying to unwind, here, you know? Supposed to be catching up on my sleep, taking a break from It All, hanging out with a good friend and admiring the countryside. Telling foreign creepy old dudes to go frak a knothole isn't relaxing, and being tired and hungry myself, that was precisely where the conversation was rapidly heading.

But seriously, that advice was old ages ago. There's a bit in Gone With The Wind about how thumb sucking is deforming of teeth. Teeth that aren't likely to survive for more than a decade, anyhow. I think it's just that people find it unattractive. Though if that's the least attractive thing a toddler does in your presence, it's time for a hallelujah chorus, because you have found a magic baby.

The only thing wrong with sucking on stuff (which little kids really, really like, and even do in their sleep) is potential psychological dependence and in addition to being unappealing, it's kind of skeezy. Toddlers drop things all the time and then pick them up and suck on them; with boatloads of us having survived to adulthood previous to Lysol, though, it seems not to actually be fatal.

And parents used to give their kids rags soaked in something sweet to suck on. Way, way skeezier. I mean, ewww. Some nasty rag sitting around with sugar on it all day? Guck. That's just like, omfg, total bacteria heaven. I'm making my icked out 14-yr-old face right this minute just thinking about it.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: don't be like creepy old dude. The woman you talk to isn't going to walk away admiring your intellect and appreciating your helpful advice.

Posted by natasha at July 27, 2008 12:05 PM | Women | Technorati links |

Yeah, no kidding. There are an endless supply of volunteer ombudspersons whenever you appear in public with a child.

They don't know you, they don't know the child, and the child isn't in danger. Now is the time on Sprockets when people who have no skin in the game shut up.

Posted by: julia at July 27, 2008 04:27 PM

Apologies for wiping out one comment for Natasha when I was cleaning up the spam. If you come back, please leave your comment again.

Posted by: Mary at July 29, 2008 12:10 AM