A few months ago, Tweetie Junior and I were at a Baby Sensory class. It was a great little group – most of the babies had been there since they were around eight or ten weeks and we all knew each other pretty well. Then some New People came. One of them sat next to me and Tweetie Junior.The class went on as normal and Tweetie Junior was his usual cheery self. He babbled to the much younger baby of the New Lady, I made polite conversation and it was all going well. Tweetie Junior fired a dazzling grin New Lady’s way.
“Oh,” she said. “What a lovely lop-sided smile!”
I stared at her. Then I looked at my baby. His smile wasn’t lop-sided, it was perfect and toothy and cute. He hadn’t even treated her to the special smile, the one where he screwed up his eyes and bared his gums like a chimp on Ecstasy. What was she on about? WHAT WAS SHE ON ABOUT?
Taking a deep breath, I put it down to nervousness on her part and nodded. Needless to say, I didn’t talk to her again.
Fast forward some months to this weekend. Tweetie Junior was toddling around a shop, with me hovering behind him, when a woman asked me how old he was. I told her he was eleven months and she looked shocked. “What a little bruiser!” she exclaimed.
Now, I’d be the first to admit that TJ is a sturdily-made boy. He’s been walking since ten months and his weight measurement puts him dead on the 91st centile. But he’s also tall and his height\weight ratio is perfectly in proportion. I am tall and my seventeen year old daughter is over six foot – Tweetie Junior is going to be tall too. But a bruiser? That’s a word with all kind of negative connotations and it’s a label I don’t like, especially on a baby. Just like New Lady, this woman probably didn’t mean to insult us but I wished both of them had chosen their words more carefully. I wouldn’t dream of saying anything like that to another parent.
So, what do you think – is the term ‘bruiser’ an appropriate description for a child? Or have I bypassed Reasonableness and gone straight to Over-Protective Mummy Mode?
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