Monday, July 9, 2012

The Complimental Divide

"Oh, he's just beautiful!"

"Look at his eyes; they're gorgeous!"

"His head is shaped perfectly!"
Almost as cute as my son. 

"He's just got the cutest expressions!'

At one time or another, each of these compliments has been lavished upon my child. Yes, our little guy, he's all of the above. 

Perfect. Little. Angel.

As a parent, you are well within your rights to view your child through this lens and, lord knows, plenty of parents do.

But, after removing "cute" from the evaluation, my question is, until they're six months old what exactly makes a "great" or "perfect" baby?

At this stage kids are a bit limited. If they don't cry much and they sleep and eat easily, that's about all you can ask, isn't it? That's a pretty narrow field in which to reach a high level of proficiency.

But, as many folks who have been around new parents can attest, sometimes the adoration goes over the top.

Some parents speak of their child as if they've attained a level of perfection heretofore never reached by any baby real or imagined. 

He or she is just that cute, that good of a sleeper, that easy of an eater and, now these accomplishments rise to a level of colossal proportions.

"Junior never pees while getting his diaper changed." 

"Little Suzie, just nods off the moment her head is laid in her crib and, by gosh by golly, wouldn't you know it? She doesn't wake up for eight hours."

It's great to be gaga for your kid and, despite my best efforts to be "cool" I have officially crossed the line to "shamelessly public" in displaying my affections. 

It's also great to not be obnoxious or overbearing, expecting everyone else to share your enthusiasm. That's where things can get fuzzy.

"I do this, perfectly."
As detailed above, unbounded exaltation of your child isn't a real positive, but you also don't want to go too far in the other direction.

"Yeah, our little Billy might look cute but, judging from the distant look in his eyes, we're going to hold off booking his reservation to NASA space camp."

"Thanks for your compliment and yes, we're proud of Jenny but, the last time I saw a mouth that big it had a hook in it." 

"How about the feet on our bouncing baby boy? We're getting him fitted for clown shoes next month."

It's not likely that you'd hear a parent say anything so blatantly crude and cruel as the above. But somewhere between this callousness and the oblivion of believing you are in possession of the sole perfect child on Earth is a healthy perspective. 

The real rub is that, as a parent, perspective can be tougher to come by. Are you hard on them? Or are you too glowing? 

Fortunately, my wife and I are pretty good at keeping each other in check, one always ensuring that the other never gets too lost in junior's hypnotic gaze, with those saucer-sized baby blues.  

Yeah, we've got that much figured out. 

Just ask my perfect, perfect son, he'll vouch for us. 

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