I learned something recently. I learned that not everybody in the world likes it when you comment on how fat their baby is. Who knew? And here I’ve been, walking around all this time, congratulating people on their chubby little babies. I’ve been walking up to strangers like, “Excuse me ma’am…. You probably already know this, but your child has roughly three extra folds in the skin of his forearm. I just wanted to say, ‘Well done.'” It turns out some folks don’t like it when people point things like this out to them.
I mean, I guess it makes sense. At some point in every kid’s life, you’re not allowed anymore to comment on how fat they are…. I just thought that we were allowed to compliment a baby’s chunkiness AT LEAST until the kid starts talking. No one’s telling parents what a cute little butterball their middle school daughter is. But BABIES?!? Actually, I have always felt bad about pointing out how skinny a baby was. If I noticed a skinny baby, I kept it to myself…. I didn’t want to say something and offend someone. I could never get the words to come out without them sounding disappointed. I would say, “Oh, he’s so skinny” the way one might say, “Oh, you’ve got some ketchup on your shirt.”
All it took was one person cautioning me about the mother of a chubby kid being sensitive, and now I am second-guessing myself around ALL fat babies. For example, the other day at the restaurant, a couple sat down in my section with a remarkably fat baby. His head was at least one-and-a-half times wider than it was tall. The weight of his chipmunky little cheeks and jowls seemed to have caused his neck to disappear, and he had dimples where no dimples belonged. His arms were out to his sides like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, but he was wearing a short-sleaved shirt. He was as cute as babies get, and everything in me wanted to squish his fat little oversized head. And, for whatever reason, I wanted to discuss his excess cheeks with his parents, but now I’m all worried about making people feel bad (It should be pointed out that his parents were both thin people. Of course, I would never have a conversation with overweight people about how plump their kids is. Everybody knows that…. That’s Fat Baby Etiquette 101).
This whole thing has me very confused and a little saddened. Is there really no point in a person’s life anymore when you can vocally appreciate how fat they are without offending someone? Everyone knows that fat babies are objectively cuter than skinny babies. And many of those skinny babies are going to grow up to be a skinny adults (with all the advantages that brings)…. We’ve got the rest of people’s lives to congratulate them on how skinny they are. Can’t there just be a short period of time where we celebrate and acknowledge that a kid is chubby, and that chubbiness makes everyone around her happier?
For some people, having a fat baby makes them feel good because it’s obvious that their kids are getting enough to eat. I know that it was this way for us when my wife was breastfeeding our kids. All three of my kids had ham hocks that would test the tensile strength of their tights. The waistbands of their clothes would make noises like stressed metal. And I wore their pudginess like a medal, showing it to anyone who pay attention. If you are a parent who gets offended by people who point out how portly your kids is, please don’t. And if you’re a person like me who thought that you were complimenting parents when you commented on their pudgy little person, be aware…. Sadly, some people don’t like it.
In closing, please look at this fat baby’s face:
Can we all just agree that fat babies are awesome?