Making small talk about the kids

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers

Have you ever said anything about your kids that you wished you could immediately take back, because as soon as it left your mouth you realized how unintentionally disparaging it sounded? I was talking with a coworker the other day and found myself saying how much I was enjoying my toddler's age, because while babies were okay and all, it was just so much nicer to be able to have a conversation with my kid. Then I immediately flashed on the full-body happy wriggle my 4-month-old does, his open-mouthed coos and squawks, the feel of his tiny hand curling around my finger, and I felt like a TOTAL JACKHOLE. And I rushed home to inform Dylan that he is every bit as enjoyable as Riley is, and he grinned and spit up all down my dry clean-only shirt.

Obviously, I deserved that.

This is what happens when well-intentioned but ultimately uninterested people ask me about my kids: I'm never sure what to say. I start small -- "Oh, they're great, thanks for asking" -- because I know when people are just being polite and not wanting a lengthy monologue on just which milestones we've reached and what adorable thing the 3-year-old is saying. But then sometimes that's not enough, like in the case of my coworker who said, "Just 'great?'" with a smile, and well, I wasn't sure what middle ground was desired between Points A and Z on the I Am Trying Not to Bore the Crap Out of You spectrum, so my mouth started yapping and that's when I basically said my baby was no fun, or whatever.

(He IS fun! Seriously! You should meet him! Wear a raincoat!)

It's easier when I'm talking with someone who has kids of their own, because that's like a green light to blather about thrilling topics like OMG We Haven't Left Our House In Months and Hey How Do You Get Barf Out of Leather? but when it's someone who is childless I'm particularly cognizant of my potential for being that person . . . you know, the one who can't shut up about their kids. The one who can't even hold a conversation if the topic isn't parenthood.

Instead, I get awkward and try for small talk but end up saying something like oh, babies are okay. Good lord.

Do you share my dorktasticness when it comes to talking about your kids when someone asks after them, or do you not bother worrying about something as silly as whether or not they're entertained or bored by your response? (They DID ask, after all.)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.