Why Do I Have to Coo at Your Baby When You Won’t Pet My Cat?
For those without kids, is there anything scarier in this world than someone showing up at work, mid-maternity leave, to show off the new baby? I’ll admit, when I heard those stroller wheels clacking down the halls at my old work, I did a legger to the bathroom more than once. Take Your Kids to Work Day and Halloween (when my company hosted Trick-or-Treating through the cubicle aisles) often found me cowering under my desk, or feigning extreme urgency – rushing off to fictitious meetings or picking up a non-ringing phone to engage in an I-can’t-be-bothered-now argument.
I suffer a certain level of guilt over this and often wonder how would it feel if I were in their shoes and someone did this to me? But oh wait – I sort of already know. Because people ignore the fact that my cats exist all the time. Am I miffed? No. Some people aren’t pet people. If they’re not interested, they’re not interested – why would I ever want them to pretend to be? Especially if the cats are just sleeping or eating, which comprises about 99.9% of their day. But if Jacques wants to join us in a game of flip cup…
…or tries to steal a sip of someone’s Merlot…
…or Olivia attempts a desperate escape up the screen door…
…well, then I’d probably expect our guest to pay them some attention.
Similarly, if someone’s baby is wearing some cute Kate Spade flats or spouting stock tips like the e-Trade baby, I’m likely to take notice. But if the baby – which, by the way, looks remarkably like every other baby I’ve ever seen – is just passed out or drooling on itself…why is it necessary to shower them with compliments? Is the self-esteem of the baby in jeopardy?
No, I don’t think so. In fact, their understanding of compliments is probably equal to that of a cat’s. So it’s for the parents’ benefit – they want their babies to be noticed. And for those of us without kids, pets are our babies. So why is it acceptable to act as if someone’s pets don’t exist, but if you try the same with a baby, your heart must be made entirely of coal?
Think about it – if you run into a friend walking their German Shepherd on the Strand and neglect to pat its head, your friend is likely to continue their walk without a second thought. But ignore a baby in a stroller when you run into a Mommied acquaintance? You may as well be cast as the villain in the next Batman movie, so vile are you.
I’m not asking for equal treatment of pets and babies. Good grief, that would be insane.
Can you imagine if the Pet People started sending birth announcements when we adopt a new furball – touting pounds, ounces and breed? Or registering at Petsmart and asking our girlfriends to throw us a party with a three-tiered litterbox cake? Or dressing our Chihuahuas in little Ralph Lauren velour track suits?
No! Let the babies have that, all of that. All I ask is that we not be vilified for choosing to focus our attention on the mother (whom we likely haven’t seen in a while and can actually hold a conversation with) instead of cooing at a baby who has no idea who we are and will never remember the incident anyways. And in return, I promise to continue not caring when someone ignores the cats, to not fish for compliments about their lustrous coats and lengthy whiskers, and to not insist that people gather them up in a cuddly embrace.
Deal? Probably not, but a girl’s gotta try.