You Don't Have to Ask About My New Baby When You See Me (You Can If You Want To! But It's Fine If You Don't!)

Illustration for article titled You Dont iHave to/i Ask About My New Baby When You See Me (You Can If You Want To! But Its Fine If You Dont!)
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It’s too early to make a definitive determination, but I think my 3-year-old daughter has transitioned out of her Boss Baby stage. She no longer asks to watch Boss Baby when she returns home from preschool, she no longer hurls non sequitur quotes from it at me while she’s in her car seat, and she no longer corrects us—and anyone else—when they refer to her as a baby. (“I’m not a baby, daddy. I’m a boss baby.”) Admittedly, I’m disappointed she’s no longer compelled to add that qualifier. Now, I think, she just assumes that her boss status precedes her.

Aside from ABC Kids TV—an addictive and vaguely satanic consortium of haunted jingling livestock who are totally, definitely, absolutely convincing her to go vegan—her to-go asks now are either of The Incredibles movies. Which is a favorable development for me because both movies are entertaining and eminently rewatchable and it provides opportunities for space for my theories on why Elastigirl is built like Nicki Minaj. My daughter also enjoys playing catch, eating Brussels sprouts, and staring and pointing and laughing at her butt in the mirror before she takes baths. She is interesting.

Unfortunately, my 7-week-old son is not.

Of course, he’s great and awesome and cuddly and bouncy and hungry and brownie. He’s all the things that healthy babies are supposed to be, and my wife and I are eternally grateful for that. But the only discernibly special thing about him at this point in his life is that he looks like and lives with us. He possess a jumble of our DNA, and we’re legally responsible for his well-being. Aside from that, he’s anonymous as a motherfucker. If there were such a thing as a Baby Borg, he’d be a card-punching member.


This, for the record, is not a bad thing. Aside from the standard “HOLY SHIT WE CREATED A TINY REPLICA HUMAN WITH TOES THE SIZE OF TOOTSIE ROLLS!” thing, the best possible outcome this early is that your baby passes all the tests he’s supposed to pass and meets all the developmental benchmarks he’s supposed to meet. Basically, you just want him to be normal. And normal, while awesome, is boring.

And while this boringness is the best-case scenario, it makes answering questions about him rather difficult. If someone asks “How is your baby doing?” the only valid and encapsulating response if he’s healthy is “Fine!” “Great!” also works here. As does “He’s a baby doing baby shit”—which has become my personal favorite.

Sometimes I’ll be compelled to add the most mundane details (“Oh, he’s hungry sometimes and then sleepy. And then when he wakes up, he’s hungry again.”) as it’s a function of the etiquette ballet that occurs when a person has a new child and a person talking to that person believes they’re supposed to ask about said baby. And today, as a person who has a new tiny person and has had new tiny people before—making me a new tiny person maven—let me alleviate some pressure for the rest of you.

You don’t have to ask me about my baby.

Of course, me saying that you don’t have to doesn’t mean you can’t! You can! If you want to, please do! And if you do, I’ll be glad-ish to share things like “He burps sometimes” and “His gums are sharp.”


But if you don’t want to ask—if you see me and just want to talk about crawfish or quicksand or Enes Kanter—that’s fine too! I will not be offended. I do not possess a secret journal where I scribble down the names of “THOSE WHO DARED NOT ASK ABOUT THE YOUNG KING AND WILL BE..DEALT WITH...LATER.” You don’t have to play conversation double dutch with me, waiting for the opportunity to jump in a question about him. Either ask or don’t ask. But please please please don’t assume that I’m waiting for you to, and that not asking is a solid breach in social decorum. IT AIN’T A BREACH! IT’S JUST ANOTHER BRICK!

Also, not asking now allows you to save your questions for two years from now, when he’s actually interesting. Like a question bank, almost. (And yes I know that questions don’t work on a quota system but for the sake of this piece just pretend that they do.) You won’t have to force interest then, because you’ll see this 2-year-old reading We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and you’ll think “Damn! That’s an interesting baby. Let me ask his dad some questions about him!” Until that day, just do want you want to do. And if “what you want to do” doesn’t include “ask about my new baby” that’s fine! Trust me.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Downton Flabby (the movie)

At the risk of sounding like a monster, (which I probably am ;) I’m genuinely not interested in hearing about people’s children… like ever. Children are not interesting. Sometimes the very little ones are kind of cute… but they are definitely not interesting. I sincerely hope that more parents adopt the “you don’t have to ask me” position regarding their children, because those of us out here, who are children indifferent monsters, will be quite happy to oblige.