A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
This has been the worst winter in recent memory. Between the various polar vortices and the sundry snowmageddapocalypses, we just can’t catch a break. And Punxsutawney Phil, that little bastard warlock rodent, has predicted six more weeks of this garbage. Of course, his track record isn’t exactly sparkling, but everyone knows he’s been more of a figurehead than anything else for years now.
We all go a little stir crazy during the coldest months, but I’m convinced none go quite so mad as those staying home with young children and babies. Yes, we love our kids and they are a blessing and blah blah blah but SERIOUSLY I’M LOSING MY CRAP. If I listen to the Fisher Price “Busy Busy” song one more time, I will be forced to throw the toy which plays it out of a third story window. You are an imaginary cartoon monkey who lives inside the plastic laptop on a baby activity table. HOW BUSY COULD YOU BE? My daughter does not yet possess the fine motor skills required to deposit a piece of food into her own mouth, so she most certainly is not going to “play on the computer” or “call a friend you know/pick the phone up say hello,” as you so casually suggest. Do you understand babies at all, cartoon monkey? Who gave you this job, sir?
At any rate, during one of my recent, daily brain fogs in which I leave my body and hover above, thinking inane thoughts that sound way deep in my head as though I’m on hallucinogens, I realized that the English language employs quite a number of woefully inaccurate baby-related idiomatic phrases. But we grow up hearing and using them, so most everyone reaches adulthood with some seriously misguided assumptions about having an infant. Here I set the record straight on some of the most common offenders:
Sleep like a baby. This has to be the worst. Honestly, it makes not one lick of sense. The first person to have said this must never have spent more than half an hour with either a baby or anyone who had one or had been in a room with someone who had one. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of books on the subject of baby sleep, as it is arguably the single most plaguing and confounding aspect of child-rearing. Yes, babies need lots of rest. Sometimes, they can doze through all sorts of noise. But sometimes they can’t sleep through someone opening a can of soda and despite being so desperately exhausted that all they can do is sob, they will. Not. Sleep. I suppose if by saying you “slept like a baby,” you meant that you woke up throughout the night, cried a bunch, couldn’t get back to sleep, and then woke up hours too early, then yeah. Also, you poor thing.
You have to crawl before you can walk.
This is just patently untrue. Lots of babies never crawl at all and just go straight to walking. Some scoot. It doesn’t matter at all
, though there are still lots of parents who get concerned or hung up on this fake “milestone.” They also say you have to walk before you can run
, which seems to be equally wrong. Have you ever seen a toddler move?
Baby steps. This phrase is used to describe tiny, slow, careful, measured, preliminary moves as a person inches towards a goal. Bzzz. No. Baby steps are jerky, poorly-gauged, awkward and exaggerated. They result in faceplant, like, 90% of the time. Perhaps this can still be applied to adults, although it takes on a whole new meaning. “I’m taking baby steps in psychotherapy” suddenly sounds a lot more troubling.
Weak as a baby. Have you ever tried to change the diaper of a baby who, when laid on her back, insists on flipping over and crawling away? Have you ever tried to wrestle a set of keys out of a baby’s hands? If you believe this, you clearly have not. They are disproportionately strong freaks, like ants or me when someone tries to take my Peanut M&Ms® away (see below).
Taking candy from a baby. If my baby got her hands on some chocolate and I were to manage to wrest it from her iron grip, I can guarantee you it would not go smoothly. In fact, it would be a catastrophe. A nuclear meltdown. In other words, not easy. Much easier is taking it away from a rational adult. You could be like “hey, fellow adult, I really need to take that candy from you.” And they’d be like, “uuugh I don’t want you to but I’m a grown-up so this hardly seems worth a fight. Here you go.” Bam. Candy.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!