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19 September 2008 @ 10:55 pm
WTFery of the Day  
So the hubby and I are sitting in a Starbucks. He's playing with Meghan, and I'm reading my flist on my laptop. And this guy sitting in the chair next to me -- an older gentleman, with a moderately strong Eastern European accent of some sort -- says, "Excuse me, is that your daughter?" I say yes, and he shows me this picture he drew on a Starbucks napkin:

He uses it as a visual aid (probably because his English wasn't perfect) to tell me that Meghan's head is flat and I need to put her to sleep on her side instead of her back now that she is older than two months, because it is sleeping on her back that is making her head flat. I understand that he had good intentions, but:

(1) Her head has always been shaped like that -- that is, more oblong than round. My husband's head has the same shape. I don't know if it's an Asian thing or a Taiwanese thing or just something in his family, but that's how their heads are. And when I pointed it out to the guy, he said that my husband and I both had good, round heads, but Meghan doesn't. Ummm...no.

(2) Sometime in the 1990s, American pediatricians, and most anyone having anything to do with babies in general, started promoting the Back to Sleep Campaign, which urges parents and other caregivers to place children under one year of age to sleep on their backs as a way to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So I'd be going against my doctor's orders if I put Meghan to sleep on her side. To be honest, I'm not really sure I buy the whole Back to Sleep thing, and I think SIDS is sort of a dubious syndrome with murky causes, effects, and correlating factors, but I'm not going to be the person who ignores it and gets unlucky, you know? Now, there is evidence that putting your baby to sleep on his/her back can cause flattening of the head, but that's why, in conjunction with Back to Sleep, doctors urge you to give your baby plenty of "tummy time" during the day, so that the baby is not constantly on his/her back. Meghan has had plenty of tummy time.

(3) Ever since she learned how to roll over from her back to her belly (a week before she turned four months old), Meghan has actually NOT slept on her back very often at all. I put her down on her back, but she immediately rolls over and sleeps on her side or her stomach. There's nothing I can do to stop that, and from what I understand, most pediatricians say that once a baby has the strength to roll in both directions, the chances that the baby will smother by sleeping on his/her stomach are extremely limited. And really, there's nothing I can do about it; it's not like I'm going to stand over her crib all night and risk waking her up to switch her from her tummy to her back every time she turns over. The only time she sleeps on her back is when I bring her in bed with me in the early morning and we snuggle and snooze for a few hours. There's no way I'd let her sleep on her stomach on my supersoft mattress, and for some reason, she doesn't roll over when she's next to me -- probably because she nurses while we snuggle, and it'd be hard to nurse with her face against the mattress! Anyway, the point is that Meghan doesn't sleep on her back most of the time.

I explained all this to the guy, and he seemed pretty surprised:

"Your daughter, she sleep this way?" (He demonstrates sleeping on one's side.)

"Yes. She immediately turns over and won't sleep on her back."

"She no sleep on her back?"

"No. She doesn't like it."

"Hmmmm." (He looks all confused.)

Finally, he conceded that he doesn't know why her head is shaped the way it is, and he went back to drinking his coffee or whatever. And I'm just like, dude, people have differently shaped heads. I appreciate his intentions, which I imagine were good, and I figure that in whatever country he's from, it's not considered rude to give unsolicited advice of this sort. But I couldn't help but bristle, because it felt as though he were criticizing my parenting, or at least sticking his nose where it didn't belong. Parenting is such a sensitive area in American culture, and it seems that there are a hundred different, and often contradictory, opinions on any single topic having to do with raising children, so you just have to study all of the viewpoints and choose what feels right to you. I really do think he meant well and was trying to help rather than say, "Your daughter has a flat head and you suck as a parent." But it was just weird as hell.

I really do think he meant well, though. Which is far more than I can say for the woman who, in Buy Buy Baby several months back, started reaming out this lady whose newborn infant was crying in her stroller: "BE A MOTHER AND DEAL WITH YOUR CHILD! YOUR CHILD IS CRYING AND YOU'RE DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT! YOU NEED TO BE A MOTHER AND PICK YOUR BABY UP AND COMFORT YOUR BABY INSTEAD OF LEAVING YOUR BABY IN THE STROLLER! BE A MOTHER!" Everyone within earshot looked completely shocked at this ugly display of bitchery. Never EVER tell someone she is being a bad mother, especially when she is a new mom...and especially when you don't even know the circumstances! Maybe this lady was quickly trying to get to an area where she could feed the baby. Or maybe she felt it would be difficult to wheel the stroller and hold onto a fragile new baby at the same time, so she was just trying to make her purchase and get the hell out of the store. She looked completely mortified and heartbroken when bitchy lady was yelling at her, and she stuttered out something about how she was trying and knew she needed to pick up the child, but wasn't able to; I don't remember exactly what it is, but I could tell she was so embarrassed and felt horrible. In retrospect, I wish I had told off the bitchy lady. I don't like getting involved in other people's wank, but that evil wench needed to be put into her place.

God, this is just the beginning, isn't it? I'm sure I'm going to be the recipient of much more unsolicited advice in the future. Frankly, I'm shocked no one's yelled at me about public breastfeeding yet. I'm discreet and all, but there's always some moron who can't deal with the thought of functional boobs and who doesn't realize you could see far worse with a quick Google search.

Anyway, I like Meghan's head shape. Hell, her head could be shaped like a pyramid and I'd think it's cute, but she doesn't have plagiocephaly (flat-head syndrome). Her pediatrician had noted her head shape a few months ago, particularly because she's 5th-10th percentile in head circumference, and came to the conclusion that that's just how her head is! It's growing fine, and she's just small overall -- she's 10th percentile in weight and 50th percentile in length, and that's how she's been since birth. So I'm not worried. Not everyone has the same exact head shape. It was just so random for this dude to draw out pictures and try to tell me what position to put her in to sleep.
Current Mood: WTF'd
madame sosostris: Boom Boom the Flemish giantshantih on September 20th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
People like to be bossy! A couple of years ago I was at an animal shelter checking up on some rabbits they had there, and as I fed one of them romaine lettuce, some random guy came up to me and informed me I shouldn't do that as it would cause bloating in rabbits. He was there to adopt a dog.

I don't even know.
Vega Blackvegablack62 on September 20th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
I assume your icon is of your daughter and I must say she is a lovely child. My husband is Latin American and he has the head shape you describe it never hurt him, as does my lovely daughter and my youngest son. My oldest son's head is shaped like mine. I'm of European descent. All three of them slept on their backs as babies. I think this may be an ethnic thing and is really no one's business nor will it affect their beauty as adults. Ignore well-intentioned idiots.

I sympathise with you. I got more bad commentary and advice when I was pregnant and when my kids were small. I learned to ignore it.
Miss Sophia: Meghan - Sweet potato smilemiss_sophia on September 22nd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
Yep, the icon is indeed my daughter, with the aftermath of a sweet-potato dinner around her mouth. Thanks -- I think she's adorable, too, but I'm obviously very biased! :D

There's something about pregnancy and babies/kids that seems to invite people to be blunt and idiotic. I didn't get too many weird comments when I was pregnant, no one criticizing my meal choices or asking me whether the latte I had just gotten was decaf, but I did have a number of people going on about how I was either too large or too small for how far along I was -- including my OB/GYN, who told me that I was fat when I had gained 20 pounds by 24 weeks!!! Yes, he actually used the word "fat," which is absurd, because I'm 5'4" and had started out at 135 pounds. Incidentally, he also told me that day that I stink (again, yes, he did use those words); apparently, he did not like my sugar-plum-scented lotion. Needless to say, that was the last time I saw him. By 28 weeks, I had found myself a more polite, reasonable doctor (one who also did not try to force elective C-sections upon his patients because they're "safer" than vaginal deliveries and because, according to him, if you deliver naturally, you will never enjoy sex again -- seriously, the doctor was a NUTJOB!!!).
Vega Blackvegablack62 on September 22nd, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
My youngest is 20. when I had my kids they were trying to reduce the number of C sections not encourage them. I find the idea of elective C sections very bizarre. I think it is more convenient for doctors to be able to schedule the event and the length of the surgery.

Good luck with your daughter.
From the land between Wake and Dream.: DWWhat Are You On - londonbeauty001sea_thoughts on September 30th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
according to him, if you deliver naturally, you will never enjoy sex again

Well, if that were true, NONE of us would be here because the first woman would have castrated the first man after her first baby! This doctor sounds like a complete quack! o.o
Miss Sophia: Seinfeld - Serenity nowmiss_sophia on October 1st, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
Oh, man, and that was just one of his many transgressions. Actually, it was him and his daughter -- it was a father/daughter practice. Both were total psychos. At 24 weeks (or maybe it was 20 weeks; I don't remember), I tried to discuss with them my hopes, expectations, and concerns for the delivery, and they said they prefer to discuss that sort thing at 34 weeks. Apparently, they don't like to plan ahead! And seriously, I needed to find out how they would approach delivery in order to decide whether I was going to stay with them or not. So when they didn't even want to discuss it, but ended up doing so begrudgingly, I was like, "OK, whatevs, see ya."
From the land between Wake and Dream.: DWWhat Are You On - londonbeauty001sea_thoughts on October 1st, 2008 11:57 am (UTC)
I wonder if this guy's wife decided she would never have sex with him again after she gave birth to his daughter and that's why he said that. *rolls eyes*
Miss Sophia: HSR - Weirded out!miss_sophia on October 4th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
What's even more wack is that the daughter was in agreement on all this -- and she's had kids herself! They also do routine episiotomies, which is now frowned upon by most OB/GYNs (most docs now will do an episiotomy if, at the time the baby is coming out, they think you're going to have a very bad tear, or if they have to use forceps or a vacuum extractor, but otherwise they stretch you ought when you start pushing and allow small tears to happen naturally -- sorry if all this is making you go, "OMG, I'M NEVER HAVING KIDS, AAAAAHHHHHH!"), and they tried to talk me out of attempting a natural, no-epidural delivery. Now that I've done that sort of delivery, I see why most people would go, "HOLY CRAP, YOU'RE GOING TO DO IT NATURALLY?!?!", but I still think their response to me should have been more along the lines of, "Well, good for you if you can do it, but it's really really difficult, so don't feel like a failure if you change your mind," rather than "Oh, you're definitely going to want to get an epidural. ...what? You want to do it naturally? Oh, you're crazy. No, get the epidural."
From the land between Wake and Dream.: DWWhat Are You On - londonbeauty001sea_thoughts on October 5th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)
Haha, you cannot scare me, my mother already told me all about the episiotomy she had with me (this was back in the early 1980s and she was a small lady, so they did it as a matter of course). She also had gas and air, but was sick on it! So I don't think it did her much good in the end. Anyway, it is your right to CHOOSE a natural delivery, so they should have supported your choice.
Lucretia my reflection: people piss me offagameofthree on September 20th, 2008 03:31 am (UTC)
I don't know why people think that when you suddenly become pregnant/have a child, your life is open to their criticism, but they do. It's annoying and flabbergasting, even when they mean well. I do think it gets better as the kid(s) get older. Thankfully, or I probably would've killed someone by now. ;)
Spicedogs: Meghanspicedogs on September 20th, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)
Meghan's head is the beautifully shaped and it houses her beautiful and smart brain. Pay no attention to that guy.

Edited at 2008-09-20 03:48 am (UTC)
st_aurafinast_aurafina on September 20th, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
Seriously! That's incredibly intrusive, and culturally insensitive of that guy. Dude. *shakes head in disbelief* I can't believe a stranger would come up to you and tell you something like that. Like you said - babies' heads are different shapes. Babies are all different. Yours is healthy and beautiful and just as she should be.
The Fizzy Champagne Princesspuredeadthingy on September 20th, 2008 08:03 am (UTC)
Next time, just smile and admit you keep dropping her on it. I guarantee they will move on!
Miss Sophia: Meghan - Sweet potato smilemiss_sophia on September 22nd, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
HA!!! I like that approach! *tucks that away into snarky-comeback purse for future use*
E McGeemelusinahp on September 20th, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
Pretty much your entire post has left me with my mouth hanging open. omfg. Where do people get off thinking they can tell strangers what to do with thier children? It boggles my mind.

I think I would have wanted to actually kill the shouting lady. Seriously.
Miss Sophia: Meghan - Sweet potato smilemiss_sophia on September 22nd, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
I really regret that I didn't say anything to her. As I said, I don't like engaging in public wank and causing scenes, but she needed to be put back in her place. In fact, after I had left the store and gone back to my car, I saw her going to her car, and she was complaining to her daughter (or maybe it was her daughter-in-law; anyway, the bitchy lady was an older woman, and she was there with a younger woman who looked nothing like her and the latter woman's child) about the woman with the crying child, and I thought about saying something at that point, too, but chickened out. :/
darlingfox: Yukitodarlingfox on September 20th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
I really can't decide hether he was rude or not. On one hand, good intentions, but on the other... Yeah, you just don't say something like that to parents, especially if you don't know them.

Maybe that shouting to strangers is also a cultural thing? I've never seen or heard anyone doing that, but I know several people from USA who have. Again, it's just something you don't do. Either the parent is letting the child cry deliberately (like when the child wants candy and the parent isn't going to buy it) or she just doesn't have the opportunity to deal with it (like in your examples). Generally people just ignore the crying and the parent tries to get out of the store as fast as she can.
Miss Sophia: Meghan - Sweet potato smilemiss_sophia on September 22nd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
I do think some Americans have no problem making public scenes when it comes to criticizing others' behavior. I don't know if people in other countries and cultures do this or not, and under what circumstances they would do it, but...yeah, I don't think it's beyond some Americans to butt into other people's business in very loud, public ways. It's embarrassing to watch, let alone be a part of. :/
again with the blarg: weirddivka on September 20th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
I am continually amazed how people think things like this are their business.

She's adorable and I'm sure her head is totally fine.
alabastardalabastard on September 20th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Just, ugh, everyone's an expert these days, thanks to the internet.

A limited knowledge is a dangerous thing.
mundungus42mundungus42 on September 20th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Dear lord, that's hilariously awful! The man is clearly bonkers. I don't know what I would have done about the awful screaming lady in the store, though. Rudeness that profound tends to shock me into silence because I just can't wrap my brain around the fact that someone would be that rude. I think that motherhood must be like driving a car with the entire world in the backseat, and everyone thinks they can do a better job. Too bad you can't hire one of those soundproof dividers. Perhaps you can pretend to be deaf in the future? *hugs you, pats Meghan's adorable head*
Miss Sophia: Meghan - Sweet potato smilemiss_sophia on September 22nd, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
Ha, perfect analogy!

I think that if the guy had been ruder, like the bitchy lady in the store, I would've been equally rude in return (because if the rudeness is directed to me, you bet I'll respond in kind!), but he seemed to think he was doing me a favor, and he was polite in the way he presented his case to me, so I didn't give him a hard time. And it was also one of those situations where you're so WTFed out as it's happening that you almost don't know what to say or do!
Rokna, Devourer of Worlds!: Curtainsronkaperplexous on September 21st, 2008 12:50 pm (UTC)
He drew graphics. Ahahahahahahahaha! With a little "Figure 1" and "Figure 2"! asdfghjkl;lkjhgfdsaasdfghjkl; What kind of person does that? The unsolicited advice is weird enough, but to actually have drawn it out? That's just funny.

You shouldn't get upset; people just like to criticize and feel smart, and everyone thinks they know what's best for babies. Look at it this way: when your daughter gets older, you'll have a really amusing story to entertain her with. "And this stranger walked up to me in Starbucks and offered to reshape your head. He even drew pictures!" You should keep the napkin, just for that purpose.
Miss Sophia: Meghan - Sweet potato smilemiss_sophia on September 22nd, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was the drawing that had me the most WTFed out and amused at the same time.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to keep the napkin! He got up and left it on the table, but he also left some other stuff on the chair, so I knew he was coming back. I took a quick picture with my iPhone, and then we ended up leaving, but there was no way I was going to have him come back to a missing napkin, because then he might have thought I was going to take his advice after all! XD