February 22, 2008

"Oooh, Special!"

I'll say if for you because I know it's hard to do: not all babies are cute. That's fine. Because at least their mothers love them. But what baffles me is when people tell you your baby isn't cute. That's not fine. Take my Cher for example. Cher is without a doubt a unique looking baby. Her head is huge, her mouth is huge, and she's just got a 20's doll vibe going for her. I get all sorts of reactions to her when we go out in public. Usually, it's just the, "ooooh, she's...special," line. Special. Right. I can handle special. But sometimes it's the, "now isn't she funny looking!" Not quite as nice. And the comment that toped all was the unnamed, concerned relative who told my husband reassuringly after our visit, "she will be cute."

Admittedly, it took me a few months to understand Cher's look. I was used to judging all beauty based off of my first, wispy daughter and when I had a second with her own kind of beauty, it threw me for a loop. Nevertheless, I soon appreciated Cher's vintage look.

I was visiting my in-laws a few years ago and was getting to know one of the new grandkids. He was about 5 months old and didn't seem to like me very much. I kept trying to meet his eyes but he avoided them and didn't respond to any of my cooing. His mother came over and sat next to me on the couch. "You know what's wrong with Collin?" she asked. It was the time of the autism craze and every magazine seemed to be featuring articles about the signs and symptoms of autism.
I offered helpfully, "yeah, I think he may be mildly autistic." She looked at me in shock.
"Actually, I was going to say that he's too cute."
I was mortified. What was I thinking telling this mom that her newborn son seemed autistic? I tried to back-pedal. "Oh, well it's just that he won't look at me...he seems really sweet. I've just been reading these articles about autism, but I'm sure he's fine." That'll teach me to ever say anything in the least bit negative about anyone else's baby. I'm pretty sure that sister-in-law isn't going to be asking me to babysit anytime soon.

So when in doubt, say the nice thing. Here are some terms you can use when you run across that funny looking baby in the grocery store (because from experience, I can attest that just keeping your mouth closed is impossible for the common adult):

"Special" "stunning" and "unique," although obviously cop-outs, are acceptable.

Comment on the babies clothes. Baby clothes are almost always cute and an easy fallback. Unless they have Barney on them. I have no suggestions here.

Tell the mother the baby looks just like her. She'll take it as a compliment whether or not it is one.

Say the baby should be in commercials. You don't need to say it would be a cleft palate reconstruction commercial instead of a Gymboree ad.

Play peekaboo with the baby. Baby and mom will love it and you'll get to hide from the unappealing looking baby. Everybody wins.

And my personal favorite line, "Wow. Now there's a baby." Who could deny that?

So please, do the right thing and don't tell parent's what you really think of their kids. I don't care whether they have two heads, two fingers and two tongues, rest assured that all babies are "special." Please don't try to convince their parents otherwise.

54 comments:

Davis Family said...

Some people need to discover an inner monologue.

JLJ said...

Ouch! I remember laughing when my friend showed me a picture of his new niece (I was in high school); she just looked kind of funny. He told me she had down syndrome. I felt terrible.

BTW, Cher IS beautiful.

kenley_bell said...

I always thought Cher did look like those cute, doe-eyed "vintage" babies from old storybooks! She is precious, beautiful and always looks so happy in her pics.

Hollywood said...

Kenley!! I'm so glad you're here :) Did you find my blog through Facebook? Thanks for the comment. You've always been such a sweetie. I hope you are doing fantastic!

Emmy said...

I love Cher's smile and face. If we all looked the same the world would be boring. I can't believe someone said that about her being cute SOMEDAY.

Anonymous said...

Just call the baby sweet...all babies are sweet, somehow, right?

Irishmama said...

Always remember to avoid the term 'breathtaking'.

Cher looks so much like our neighbors daughter and for the record, I've always thought this girl is adorable - she's 6 now and very cute.

kenley_bell said...

Actually Becca told me about it. You got mad writing skills, gal! You should get serious dough for your talent. Hope to meet your sweet girls some time that you're in Dallas! :)

The Wiz said...

Yeah, I sent a picture of my daughter to my sister, and she took it to work to show all the nurses and ask if I had a Down Syndrome baby and didn't know it. Then she called everybody ELSE in my family (not me) to ask what was wrong with my chid.

Good times. We mock her mercilessly for it now.

She was not a pretty newborn. At all. But she was LITTLE. I got the whole "what a little peanut" line a lot instead of the "How gorgeous she is" line. It worked. And she did get cute, and she still is, and even if she never had, I don't really care. She's MY little peanut with the mange for hair.

Chicken Little said...

My 10 month old baby is the very definition of cute and she was cute the moment she was born. She's long and slim like my husband, with his blond hair and huge blue eyes but she has my big cheeks - a perfect baby. I'm unexpectedly pregnant with #2 and terrified that this baby will be significantly less cute. I like your comment that even though it took a while, you were able to see your baby's vintage beauty. I'll have to remember that.

Carolyn said...

There's always SOMETHING for people to point out. For instance one of my sons was very, very chubby when he was a baby. People always commented on his large size when we took him out. Especially old ladies at grocery stores.
"What a big baby!"
"That kid is huge!"
"What a fat baby!"

Yes people actually said these things. And how was I supposed to respond?
Didn't their parents ever teach them this good advice:
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
By the way, my son slimmed down when he started crawling as as he got taller. There's not a thing wrong with him and I wasn't stuffing him with food. So there, ya crazy old grocery store ladies!

Barbaloot said...

I think Cher looks cute-and I must be right because you yourself compared her to Zac Efron. There's no denying he's cute:)
Coincidentally, I wrote a post on my blog about how Zac looks like Luke Skywalker...

CailĂ­n said...

Cher is way cute...she has beautiful eyes and a great smile. My girls have big heads too. I don't mind them being big and they are off the chart big.

I get asked a ton of stupid questions about my two adopted African American/Native American daughters. My favorite is "are they twins." DUH!!!

I've learned that most people are genuinely interested but have no tact.

Colleen said...

"Wow. Now there's a baby."

That elicited a spontaneous giggle.

My tactic (because I am a terrible liar) is to say something along the lines of, "Ooh, he's so... little!"

Nat said...

My nephew looked like a duck when he was a newborn-big nose and big lips. And of course my kids could be models, right?

By the way, Cher reminds me of Shirley Temple-VERY cute as a child, and a gorgeous woman, too.

Silly Marie said...

I admit, I've asked a mother if her 6 mo. old baby was a preemie because his head was like 1/2 the size of my 3 mo. old. (I didn't include the last part when I asked her.)

Would, "She's getting cuter and cuter every time I see her" be better than "She will be cute"?

Nikki said...

What?! I think she's adorable! I seriously had to click on the picture and think hard about her not being cute. She's a doll. Some people are so rude. My youngest has big eyes. A handful of people have said, "Whoa! Your baby has the biggest eyes I've ever seen!" Most people say, "You look surprised bright-eyes." or "Aren't you curious?" I love him. And I think he's cute. I'm hesitant to post more pictures of him on my blog because people always think he's startled or something. My word folks, people don't all look the same!

I digress. Your little girl is a doll. Truly beautiful and so sweet looking.

NG said...

I think she looks like a Kewpie doll - she's adorable!

There are people who should not be allowed to talk without getting their comments approved first.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

She's adorable and I love the phrase "vintage beauty".
When I would take my oldest out as a baby I would get "she's so cute...she looks nothing like you!" Nice.

Hollywood said...

Ha! I know I fall into that category 50% of the time ;)

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh! *seething with indignation*

There, I feel better. How could they say Cher isn't cute?! I never noticed the '20's vibe, but I'm definitely feeling it!

In high school, I showed my first boyfriend my first drivers license. I thought the picture came out great. Do you know what he said? "Man, those pictures never look good, do they? haha." He laughed! He didn't last long. Tell Cher to stick to her guns, and dump the losers. Anyone who doesn't think she's cute...well, they won't stick around long. If they can't deal with Cher, how would they deal with her Flakey Friends?! (And besides, nobody wants to hang around with crazy people who don't think babies are cute!)

Kate said...

I've always thought Cher was simply adorable... and no, I'm not just saying that!
This is like the woman at kdg registration that asked me if I was expecting. I wanted to say, "Nope, just fat, but thanks for checking in!" But I bit my tongue :)

Carrie said...

I think I would geniunely say your baby was cute/adorable/precious based on beauty standards of the world. People say she's not?? Shocked.

And when I don't know what to say about a baby who isn't quite so cute/adorable/precious, I always comment on a body part... she has the perfect nose! Look at that! Or maybe, Look at those petitie little legs! Etc. Always gets me out of a tight spot.

tracy m (dandelion mama) said...

I just cannot wrap my mind around anyone saying such RUDE things!

I think Cher is darling; Abby looks pretty vintage too, and I've had people say 'Oh, she looks so Old Fashioned!" Yup. She sure does, and I like it.

Cher is beautiful. The rest of the rude-@$$ people can bite me.

chan said...

I LOVE Cher's hair! She is so cute. People can be so rude. They just need to keep their mouths shut.:)

Susan M said...

I think she's adorable. Those eyes!

There's a family in my husband's extended family with a bunch of kids. I never like to use the word ugly or homely about anyone, but the kids in this family were super skinny, gangly, big-nosed, etc....you see where I'm going. Something happened to them when they turned about 15, though. They turned into the most gorgeous people. All of them---ugly ducklings as kids, beautiful swans as teens/adults. When I first met them, half of them were already adults, the other half still children, and I felt bad for the younger ones, having such gorgeous older siblings, when they...well. Little did I know. I later saw the younger ones grow up to look just like the older ones.

Heather O. said...

When my son was born, he was truly a fantastic looking child, and I got the "He's gorgeous!" in the hospital, etc.

My daughter?

"Oh my, what a little sweetie!"

"Well, she's a little girlie, isn't she?"

The woman who took her in house hospital picture brought her back quickly and said, "Here's your baby."

Yeah, she was not a cute baby. Some just aren't, like you said. I still love her, though.

And Cher is cute. Really. She gets full marks for cuteness.

April said...

I love her smile soooo cute! And she always looks so happy. I hate it when people are tactless.... speaking of... I had to teach my husband tact after marraige because of somments similar to those.... sigh. at least he was teachable!!

MommyJ said...

Someone said to my mom about my older brother when he was a baby...

"Well I don't think he is ugly!!"

Huh. Guess that means someone said he was? For the record, he's now the best looking one in the family!

Can't believe anyone would say such things... I got a lot of really, really rude comments when I was pregnant with twins, and monster huge. People... total strangers would say things like, "What are you doing here? Don't you need to be in the hospital? That babies gonna fall right out!!" I would look down at my enormous 50 centimeters of baby and say, "Baby? You think I'm pregnant? How rude!" Ha! That'll teach em!

Spike said...

oh, whoops. i very often say that babies are fat. i didn't realize it was an insult to a baby. i meant fat in a good way. i guess i will stop.

Kels said...

Oh... my... I guess not everyone can appreciate all different kinds of kids' uniqueness... ;) Honestly, I'm throwing it out there that I used to be terrified of Down Syndrome kids... I think it roots back to a very outgoing DS guy we have at our church... anyhow, after I started working with them for field experience for my education degree and certification, I got so attached to them that I didn't even notice... I guess I'm always like that now because I haven't come across a 'special' looking baby/kid in awhile... ;) I think both of your girls are gorgeous, btw!

(Also, I enjoyed the anecdote about diagnosing your new nephew as mildy autistic... ;-) lol talk about a foot-in-mouth moment... perhaps you're like me, if someone asks my opinion on things like that I generally don't think first... like when a friend asked me why her 2 year old told her he hated her... I said it was because he probably did in that moment... that's how 2 year olds are!)

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I'm sorry, but she is just plain cute. It's a fact. The curls? Adorable. The smile? Perfect. The eyes? Precious. All around cute.

Ashley Welch Holloway said...

so is he autistic? I was thinking that exact thought when you said he wouldn't look you in the eye! who would say "my baby's problem is he's too cute!" ??? That makes for awkward moments, especially when you are thinking, "Nope, pretty sure that's not the problem." I almost wet my pants at your Barney clothes comment. I feel the same way about Winnie the Pooh. Oh and your cleft palate commercial -- too funny!!!

Jill said...

I think Cher is darling! That beautiful smile, those striking blue eyes, DARN CUTE if you ask me!

When my daughter was a baby, someone once said to me "What a cute baby! Is she adopted?"

pflower10 said...

As I was reading your blog my 7 yr old was looking over my shoulder and said "AWWWWWW, CUUuuuUUUTE". I said "What's cute? The baby or the stuffed animal"
She thought for a second and then said "BOTH!"

I have always thought that Cher was such an adorable baby. I just keep hoping that next time you come out to Utah that I can see her in person.

My daughter also wants to know if BUNNY WIGGELSWORTH is going to be available again??


BTW Barbaloot---- I think that Zac Efron is sporting a David Cassidy vibe, personally.

Jeana said...

This is so hard to believe, because your baby is GORGEOUS. While I was reading I kept looking ahead to see if there was another picture of the baby you were referring to, because I didn't think you could be talking about her.

However, for truly ugly babies, "sweet" and "precious" are safe.

Her Royal Highness said...

After reading your list of things to say about interesting-looking children, I have come to the conclusion that there are many people out there who think my kids are funny looking. I had no idea - seriously. So FYI - those sayings work!

And Cher IS unique in her look. She's beautiful!

Melinda said...

Hey, I almost forgot and forgave you for the autism thing--thanks for reminding me--you got five more years. I have had many different levels of cuteness (or lack thereof) and I have learned that a huge part of it has to do with it being baby number 2 (or three, four). Babies just dont look as cute when surrounded by noisy toddlers. Try taking Cher out without Pixie and I bet people will coo. Maybe not as much as they did for Pixie because really she was off the charts, but Cher isnt chopped liver by any means.

~**Dawn**~ said...

I have to divulge a horrible secret. I did daycare for five years in the infant room. Our "fallback" was precious. Because honestly? *All* babies are precious. No denying that. But it was the word we could safely resort to when the mother of a baby with a huge square head (seriously, so big that he would tip over when he tried to sit up) & the worst case of cradle cap I have *ever* seen (to the point the poor child would scratch his head while you gave him a bottle & leave you with a drift of flakes on the crook of your arm), not to mention he was a really dranatic cry-er (with the giant open mouth & the snotty nose) -- and of course she would proclaim "Isn't he just the cutest thing EVER??" But to her, he *was*. He was hers. And we would never say otherwise, just like we never told a soul when we saw a baby's first steps. "He is just precious." ;-)

Calidaho said...

I think Cher is very cute! She may not be wispy cute like Pixie but she has a sassy cuteness instead--like you know she is about to say something hilarious if only she could. And that is NOT a sidestep compliment! I would totally enter her in a cute baby contest!

April's Hubby said...

I've found that people change. cuteness changes. what may be cute as a two your old may be butt ugly as a twenty year old. But not all the time. Features such as large eyes get grown into so that the person goes from looking like a bug (A neighbor baby btw) to looking normal or even outstanding.

JustRandi said...

She is absolutely darling! I love the eyes and the hair. - And you're right, now that you say it, I can see the 20's look. Now she's elevated to "classic beauty".

CoconutKate said...

Awww...I think she's cute. Of course, I have seen some slightly odd looking babies but no way would I tell a parent that I thought so! Besides "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

MegaPPod said...

Forget about how adorable Cher is, the real sticker here is your self diagnosis due to lack of eye contact. If you're gonna go big, go big!!! Classic

Mrs. Morty said...

The autistic bit is too funny. I had someone say to me "I was really worried your baby would stay ugly, but he is really starting to look kind of cute" Thanks I think, and here is a fat lip to go along with the foot that is hanging out of your mouth.
Your Cher is too cute :)

Chris & Allie said...

I think Cher is DARLING and I hate big mouthed people! They are the same people that ask me when my baby is due when I have my 5 month old right next to me. Oh, and they also asked that when he was 2 months old. Yeah, I've got a gut that is very stubborn since my 4th was born, but I don't need to be reminded of it on a daily basis.

luckyzmom said...

All babies are precious. And,unless you touched up that picture of Cher, she is uniquely adorable, not average run of the mill adorable. And that smile would melt anyones heart.

Lucy said...

Geesh..I've been reading your blog for several months now. I don't comment much. But....I have to now. Your baby is adorable! I have always thought she was incredibly cute. And when you put all those natural blonde curls together with her darling little face....you've really got something there. I'll babysit anytime!

Catherine M. said...

Well, a few years ago Aunt E. went on and on about how she used to watch me as a little kid and just be so sorry for me that I was such a funny looking, ugly kid. I was shocked and finally had the guts to put the tirade to an end by saying, "How rude!" I think that is a good skill to have. Try saying, "how rude!" it is empowering. I love you daughters so tremendously and number two is amazingly darling.

The MomBabe said...

I'm a PRO at this one. I worked in a Pediatrician's office a long time ago and saw some of the ugliest babies EVAH. And I'm with you on how you can always say something nice....

-I LOVE her eyes!

-Cute Hair!

-What a chubster! I love those rolls!

-Wow, she has beautiful hands!

And on and on. There's something beautiful about each baby, just not necessarily all together.

Plus, Cher reminds me of a cabbage patch doll. She's a very cute baby. But now that you said vintage, I do see a BettyBoop kind of look there. ;)

Melanie said...

I think cher has the prettiest blue eyes and I love her smile - she IS cute!! Quit being so hard on the poor thing.

Torchness said...

I don't think it's bad to mention a kid's autistic qualities to a parent-- sometimes the parent really just didn't see them. My cousin is autistic and his mom is still not accepting it, and he's 12!

amanda f said...

well, that picture of cher is absolutely darling, and her head does not look one bit huge. but just to console you (if you are actually worried about it), kendall had a huge head and over the years he grew into it. when he was 2, he had a little friend who was 9 months younger, and when her parents borrowed his baby bike helmet, HER head was so big that it rested on top of her head and there was no way it was going down around her skull. they were SO embarrassed and had to buy a 5-year-old's bike helmet to fit her. long story short, she is now 7 years old, and her head is so perfectly normal sized and shaped, and kendall's is too.

also, i have a sneaking suspicion who the "unnamed relative" is. it seems like you have had only a few visitors lately, and that doesn't sound like something your sister would say. hmmmmmmmm.....

Bek said...

As the parent of a down syndrome child, we think that even THEY are beautiful (and the rest of the world that doesn't can go jump in a lake...).

Your girls do look different but they are both adorable.... ;-)

Cailin, I even get that about MY two adopted AA children, and they are two years apart.. Just because their skin in black does NOT mean they are twins...my favorite is "are they brother and sister". Why yes, yes they are!!! So, we all get the stupid thing (or my favorite "are you the real mom?").

When I have been, in the past, asked if I was pregnant (and not been) I do indeed say "no, just fat". What can you do? They should feel as uncomfortable as I do, right? Then I follow it up with "so you must be too, right?".

:-)

Char will be the envy of the 9th grade with those eyes and that curly hair. Lucky duck.