Baby small talk/interrogation goes something like this “how old is your little one, are they walking yet?” I have learnt to call all babies “little ones”, as I seem to have an uncanny ability to call all girls boys and vice versa. Not my fault that parents are choosing not to subscribe to the pink for girls, blue for boys rule, life was far simpler in the olden days. Based on your answer to these two harmless questions, judgements are made, opinions formed, your baby is in or out, social butterfly or social leper.
It seems that when babies reach a certain age their ability, or lack of, to assume a vertical position and put one foot in front of another is all important. The fact that I have to answer “18months old” and “no but he is very good at dragging himself around on the floor like a dog with an itchy bottom” whilst trying very hard to ignore their 8 month old who is in the background doing cartwheels and back flips, has nothing to do with my lack of patience for this question. My answer is usually met with a look of pity, followed by “don’t worry I’m sure it will happen soon”.
To relieve the pressure of this question I sometimes mix it up – “he’s 3 years old and unfortunately we’ve been told he won’t be able to walk” or “he’s 6 months old and having perfected the conventional walk he is working on his moonwalk” or “he’s 18 months, he can’t walk yet BUT he can build a 9 block wooden tower, he once fit an entire kiwi (the fruit not the people) in his mouth and has kissed more girls than you’ve had hot dinners”.
Given my initial reluctance for the question you would think that I would have adopted a more humble approach now that Max has put together his first walk (walk is generous, more of a drunken stagger at closing time). But no, it’s my time to bask in the glory of baby mobility – “and how old is your little one? And they still aren’t walking? Oh dear, they are terribly behind aren’t they? Come on Max, let’s find someone to play with who is at your level. Say goodbye to Draggy McCrawly”.
My moment of glory proved to be somewhat short lived. On arrival at the park this morning and before I had a chance to broadcast Max’s extraordinary ability to assume a vertical position and put one foot in front of another, a mum with a glint in her eye beat me to the punch and delivered a killer blow.
Glinty Mum – “18 months and not talking yet? Don’t worry I’m sure it will happen soon”
Awkward silence followed by moment of deliberation.
Immoral Dad – “Errrrmm, it won’t actually happen soon, we took him to the doctors and unfortunately he was diagnosed a mute. He’s very good at walking though, would you like to see?”