Happy New Year! Have you kissed any babies yet for good luck? (Is that a thing?) How about just waved or smiled at a baby? In 2016, you should definitely plan on it. At least, according to Facebook parents you should. I've already written about the importance of saying hello to every single child you lock eyes with so you don't crush their innocent spirit, but my submissions inbox indicates that some terrible humans have apparently been slacking. More than ever, parents are attempting to convey on social media their growing frustration and deeply primal rage toward any adult who doesn't make silly faces or chirp "bye-bye!" a half-dozen times at their baby while standing in line at airport security. This issue is about common fucking decency, since the lack of willful engagement with strangers' babies directly impacts both our present and future—so please, read on.
Wow, that's deep stuff. The next time you're at a checkout line in Target, ask yourself if you want to be a part of the problem or the solution. Do you want to utterly demolish the innate security a child feels when he repeatedly waves at you in the quiet car of a commuter train, or do you want to help this world be the type of place where children feel loved? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A smile warrior, or a no-wave policy jerk with a penchant for ignoring children and destroying their belief that the world is good? It's really one or the other.
In most cases of smile-and-wave abuse, parents are genuinely baffled as to why some people ignore their children. They assume those people are kinda sketchy at best, and evil baby-hating monsters who eat children like the witch in 'Hansel and Gretel' at worst. But in all seriousness, some people just don't know how to react to a smiling and waving child. What if they've waved back to kids in the past, and the child's paranoid parents barked at them about not talking to their child? What if the 'evil baby hating monster' just had a really bad day -- the kind of bad day where your house is in foreclosure, or your mom has dementia, or every time you turn on the news, someone else is talking about Donald Trump? Isn't it okay to get a pass sometimes? Or, if one so chooses—gasp!—all of the time?
Not that I'm trying to get too dark on the subject. Most of me thinks that waving and smiling back at a baby is harmless and easy. I personally feel that I do my best baby schmoozing at the coffee shop, as much as I hate to admit it. I don't mean to encourage overly-excited children, but I'm easily persuaded into playing a lively game of peek-a-boo that inevitably entertains me much more than the kid. Perhaps we're all just "smile-and-wave-at-babies people," or we aren't? And that's okay! Or maybe parents are only focusing on the smaller percentage of people who don't wave back at their babies, rather than the presumed majority that do? Percentage-wise, I would bet that more people, by far, tend to wave back. Is it even justified for parents to get upset about the ones who don't, regardless of whether it's because they hate children or are having a bad day? Even if it's easy to wave back, some people just don't feel like it. That's life.
Sure, it makes sense for parents to occasionally wonder why someone didn't say 'hello' back or smile. ("What a turd! I bet she doesn't even have kids!") But on social media, it seems like a pointless thing to post about. Of course, with this subject in particular, parents tend to find a lot of support on social media—especially since so many other parents can relate. It's no wonder my "Acknowledge My Baby!" submissions folder has several dozen submissions in it. The problem is, they all sound pretty much the same. Some updates contain a bit more hostility than others, but they all revolve around the same absurd complaint surrounding a fleeting moment in time. Who cares what happened during the six minutes you waited in the pharmacy? Did the offensive person expose his genitals, or open your kid's drink and pour it over his head? Okay, then, you have nothing to complain about. Whining on Facebook about a stranger not being cordial to your toddler is akin to bitching about a random car cutting you off on the highway. You can do it, but it's a solid example of #firstworldproblems if I've ever heard one.
So this year—this brand new year—it might behoove more strangers to wave back at enthusiastic children simply because parents want them to, but parents should back off, too. No one cares if your kid was briefly ignored while he was waiting in line at the movies. Quit complaining about it on Facebook, because in 2016, ain't nobody got time for that. Let's check out some past examples.
1. Get Back, Jack
The fist emoji here truly reflects how parents feel about strangers ignoring their kids. But here's a worthy memo: Does anyone realize just how MANY babies there are in the world? There are A LOT. I'm generally a fan of babies, but sometimes I see a mother wheeling her giant stroller over to the table next to me at dinner, and I'm just like, "Yup, there's another one," as I resume eating my food. Children are all special snowflakes, to be sure, but by the time you've seen several inches of snow fall in a season, it's kind of lost its magic. Know what I mean?
2. Waiving My Right To Wave
Shalimar probably makes friends everywhere she goes with that charming demeanor. I'm honestly not sure how I would react to someone who took the time to say, "Excuse me, she's saying hi to you," but it would probably involve multiple eye-rolls and/or uttering the words, "Thanks, I was just ignoring her to piss you off."
3. Sucks To Be You
Lissssssten, bitch. Kiersten is an #angrymamabear who #doesnotakeshit, so if you want to ignore her chatty, friendly child then that is purely on YOU. If you want to act like it's normal to have complete and total silence in the library, of all places, well, then, be Kiersten's guest! Be a rude person who's raising tiny, rude people. Ignore a precious 2-year-old and pretend that you and your tyrannical children aren't ruining her day and making her cry. Enjoy your visit to the library, loser! PS: Kiersten's 2-year-old is the muthafuckin' shit, so it must suck to be you.
4. Passive-Aggressive Smileys 🙂
Hey, whore-face, when a toddler says "bye!", you say it back. That's like, Toddler's Law. Everybody knows that once a child has waved and said "bye!" a minimum of 30 times, you really have no choice but to say "bye!" back with an equal amount of enthusiasm. Should you choose not to accept this social code, you can expect to receive a letter in the mail in 5-7 business days informing you of your $50 fine. (Once a child has hit 100 or more ignored waves, that fine goes up to $75.) Do the right thing and don't ignore Britteny's son while thinking you're a bad ass. Bad asses don't ignore children like petty whores.
5. Life Advice From Kymber
Ah, Kymber and Madysen—the original names for Lorelai and Rory on 'Gilmore Girls.' Can't cashiers who work secure, well-paying dream jobs in supermarkets give back to their community with a wave, a smile, or, god forbid, a quick game of "Got Your Nose" while they ring up customers? Are they not aware of their privileged role in life? Hellooo, you're supposed to be FRIENDLY when you work in customer service, you miserable-for-no-reason cashier lady. Who can even imagine why she never waves, smiles, or takes a minute out from entering coupon codes to compliment a cute little angel baby who looooves attention. Clearly, she's got serious issues, though what they could be is anyone's guess.
6. Both Sides Of The Story (For Reals)
And there you have it—a conversation that tells both side of the equation, yet still seems to fall on deaf some parental ears. At least Carrie can acknowledge the idiocy behind scolding people who DO engage with your child (whether they have kids at home or not). Maybe that's the one thing we should all agree on. If someone takes a second out to smile or wave back at a baby, she shouldn't be shunned by the parent. After all, according to his Facebook newsfeed, she's doing exactly what the parent wants.