Recently I attended a party for some dear friends leaving New Zealand. It was a great night: too much food, too much alcohol, an awesome band, bunk beds, a trampoline, and some spectacular dance moves. However. I had to navigate a bizarre conversation with someone I can only describe as a dickhead. After chatting to this person for a while, he asked me the question I dread since having a child: “So, what do you do?”.
Now, I am under no illusions that anyone actually wants to hear what a stay-at-home mother does all day (you will never catch me spouting shit like ‘shaping a young mind’ or ‘most important job in the world’. Fuck, I’m lucky if this kid can stop eating paper and bits of fluff for long enough so I can give her an actual meal), but if you ask, be prepared to feign interest. If I’ve listened to you wank on about insurance for ten minutes, you can at least pretend to care, for just a moment, about the small person who grew in my body. Don’t let this be you:
Him: “So, what do you do?”
Me: “Ah I recently had a baby, so at the moment I stay home to look after her.”
Him (whilst I watch his brain short-circuit): “Oh wow. Ok. Do you have a picture of her?”
Me: “Yeah, here she is.”
Him (clearly struggling with this interaction now): “Oh she’s really cute…”
Me (rejoining the conversation of the people around us to save him from the awkwardness he obviously feels): “Yeah she’s pretty cool.”
Him (after a silence of approximately ten seconds): “Ok. Um. Well, I have no idea what to say now.”
He then made the quickest exit I’ve ever witnessed. And avoided me for the rest of the evening. And by avoided me, I mean couldn’t even look at me. Did I accidentally blurt out to him that if he spoke to me for any longer it meant he’d agreed to be my kid’s new dad? Are a few sentences about a person I spend close to 100% of my time with too many? Did he have so little experience speaking to people with children that he thought they did nothing else, and could speak about nothing else? Quick answers: no, no, and it fucking looks that way.
For anyone wondering, I deliberately try not to talk extensively about my child, for the exact reason that I know a lot of people can’t relate, or just don’t care. And that’s fine. But let’s just remember that most people don’t want to be defined by what they do. I also, among other things, graduated from university, lived overseas, make the perfect cheesecake, can fit my whole fist in my mouth, and once got banned from a hostel in Austria. And none of that is information I’d offer up if all I was asked is ‘what do you do?’.
I’m sure our friend is much more than just a guy who works in insurance. For a start he also has no tact and is terrified of babies.