Making Faces

I think that eye is looking  a little funny to me. My infant son had this condition where the muscle in the eyelid wasn’t functioning properly. You might want to get that checked out.

Wait – what? Is that a real thing?

It happens a lot. First-time parents get advice from everyone. I’m better prepared for it now. After more than two years, I’ve learned that my kid is the ultimate icebreaker. At first, the advice fed into my insecurities and general all-encompassing terror that comes from being a first-time parent. The advice always came from a good place. They come from well-meaning people who want to help by sharing their experience. There’s nothing wrong with that. Except sometimes there is – and that’s when I make a face like I ate something sour.

I don’t mean to make that face. It’s a reflex. I don’t know that I’m making it, but I am. I’ve learned to be hyper aware of the faces I’m making when I receive awkward and unrequited parenting advice:

advice-exagerate

Advice from the person who experienced something with their child and so they exaggerate how common it is. (See Above)

They’re trying to be helpful, but the situation sounds so rare. It gets to you as a first-time parent, but the more you think about it, the more unusual it sounds.

advice-bus

Advice from a stranger on the bus. (You should cut her eyelashes to they grow back thicker and fuller.)

You have to be polite and give a look like it’s good advice. Then you get off at the next bus stop even though you’re four stops away.

advice-burst

Obvious advice that you’re well aware of but the person says it just to stick it to you.

Or not – but you’re defensive and so you think they’re sticking it to you. (You should have brought extra shoes.)

Yes. I know. I usually do. I just didn’t on this particular occasion. Thank you for pointing that out. Now feel free to burst into flames.

I’ll admit the reaction is strong. But sometimes you just don’t want to hear it.

advice-really

Advice from someone who doesn’t have kids, but they learn so much from babysitting their nieces and nephews a couple hours a month. (Oh, I don’t let my niece watch more than thirty minutes of television when I babysit her.)

That’s cute. Let me know when your back hurts from contorting your body the night before so your kid could breathe better with their stuffy nose.

advice-redacted

Parenting advice from someone who grew up in a different time that’s slightly racist/sexist/homophobic. ([REDACTED])

Just nod politely. Do not ask follow-up questions.

I focused on the awkward advice. But I’ve received great advice from people too. Most people are great. There’s a few who make you raise an eyebrow or clench your teeth. They don’t mean to. They just want to make a connection. There’s nothing wrong with that. Which is why you should be polite and watch the faces you make when they give you questionable advice.

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