The one piece of unsolicited advice I’ve gotten during my pregnancy that I actually appreciate and take stock in is to beware of unsolicited advice from strangers. I like to believe that the people – mainly women but I’ve gotten some gems from men too – who have indiscriminately doled out random, often ridiculous pearls of wisdom to me actually have my and the baby’s best interests in mind and they sincerely want to pass on lessons they’ve learned along the way. But more likely, these people just like to hear themselves talk. They are the models on which internet trolls are based except without the self-awareness of what they are; unlike trolls who everyone (hopefully) knows not to take seriously, these handers-out of unwanted advice actually believe in the oftentimes lunacy of what they’re saying and hope that your inexperience is evenly matched to their conviction.
There are several brands of unsolicited advice. There is the advice from weird fringy family members. Classic stuff. These are sometimes of the Twilight Sleep generation and offer up advice that is just as antiquated and scary. Then there are the other randos in your life – friends of friends of friends on Facebook – that come out of the woodwork the instant the news of your pregnancy hits the newsstands. Sure, it’s nice when they send you a congratulatory note and wish you the best of luck, but then they take a more in-depth bizarre interest in what’s going on in your uterus. Weirdness.
Today we will take a look at the most outrageous and awesome of the self-proclaimed Pregnancy Yodas: the perfect stranger. I’ve touched on these people before, but that was awhile back when I wasn’t nearly as obviously pregnant as I am these days. My midsection now attracts the weirdos like moths to a flame. These people fear that if they don’t get their guidance in to me before I pop, I may just end up ruining my child. This is a life or death situation. I just smile, nod, and try my hardest not to engage them.
Bloggers like to give out awards. We’re just generous like that. Today I am going to bestow the award for the most bizarre and awkward transferal of unsolicited advice of my pregnancy to the lady who cut B’s hair at Fantastic Sam’s on Tuesday. Round of applause, please.
We dropped in without an appointment so B could get a trim. We waited a little while in the waiting area, and eventually the first free stylist came over to call B for his haircut. Since the chair next to hers wasn’t taken, she invited me over to sit next to him during his haircut. Stylist chairs are way more comfortable than the chairs they have in the waiting area, so I happily obliged to relocate. I plonked down and she was immediately extremely concerned about my comfort level.
“Are you comfortable, ma’am?”
“Oh yes! As comfortable as I can be! Thanks.”
“No, you’re not. I’ve been where you are before and there’s no way you can be comfortable.”
Let’s just take a moment and parse this exchange, shall we? She was luring me in with kindness and establishing her credibility. Oh, beware this tactic! Now I HAD to listen to her orations. And so did B, poor guy. All he wanted was a haircut.
She immediately asked us if this was our first. Pretty innocuous question that I have no trouble entertaining.
“Yes, it IS our first. We are very excited. Blah blah.” I even tacked on that it is a girl because I know the pattern of questions by now.
Her response: “Well, you had better get to work on praying for another one soon because all single children are spoiled. Cannot relate to others at all. The best thing I ever did for my kids was to provide them with friends by having others. Their single cousins? SPOILED. You are praying for this child, aren’t you?”
“Plus, this being a girl – well, what are you naming her…?
“We’re naming her ________.”
“Beautiful name! Well, when little (and she actually started calling the baby by a nickname based on the name we had just told her) arrives, this man here (indicating B) will want a son. IMMEDIATELY. Play ball and such. You’re not going to want to hand this sweet baby girl off to him at all! You may think you will, but that instinct will kick in. That MATERNAL instinct. So you’d better get to praying for a boy now. You are praying, right?”
“Well, you’d better. May as well throw her to the lions if you’re not praying for her. And it always has to be the same prayer. ____’s prayer.”
At this point I had to toss in some pleasantries.
“Yes, well we’ve waited very long to have her and —”
“NO, ma’am, you’re not hearing me. You both must PRAY for her now.”
Not a lot of hair-cutting was taking place at all. In the spaces between her breaths, she would clip little chunks. But I suppose since the eternal salvation of Bebe was in the balance at this moment, we shouldn’t’ve expected haircut lady to focus too much on doing what we were paying her to do.
The fun resumed.
“So, how far along are you?”
“Thirty-six weeks. And, haha, she can’t come soon enough! We’re very anxious to meet her.” Alas, a misplaced chance at humor.
“NO, she’s NOT DONE. You must be patient and let God finish making her. You mustn’t hurry these things along. In these next few weeks you will start to nest and prepare for this child. And you must heed your instincts. She will be with you always, by your side. Have you prepared?”
“Yes, the nursery is ready and we have a bassinet for our bedroom.”
Think she had thoughts on this? HECK YES!
“Waste of money, that bassinet. She’ll be in that bed with both of you for months. You won’t let her go, and you shouldn’t. It’s too much trouble to part with her when she’s not nursing.”
Hello, SIDS on Line One. SIDS on Line One.
At this point the haircut was over. I mean, she had completed cutting B’s hair; as much as I wanted to run screaming from Fantastic Sam’s, we held out until it was complete. I am just really grateful it wasn’t me getting my haircut. That would’ve taken twice as long.
I’d like to extend a special welcome to all the new followers of The Waiting who recently got on board!
Also, special congratulations are in order for Stacy at “>From Nonsense to Momsense, who was recently Freshly Pressed! And of course to Never Contrary who was just visited by the FP fairies again too!
You know its hard when getting advice from a stranger, its even harder to know if they are sincere in their advice… trust me. But one thing you can count on is that advice is a dime a dozen and you can always just try something and see how it goes, if it doesnt work out, then oh well… but if it does, then great! Great post!
You hit the nail right on the head. My thoughts exactly! I’m sure she was sincere and I really do appreciate her concern, but her tact was so off that it’s impossible to take her seriously.
Thank you for commenting and welcome!
“Pregnancy Yoda”… I love that. Wish I’d thought of it!
My best piece of pregnancy advice is to not listen to pregnancy advice. You’re doing just fine on your own. :-)
There are WAY too many self-proclaimed “Pregnancy Yodas” running around! I wish everyone would realize that not everything works for everyone and stop acting like the way they did it is the only way!
Here’s my whopper of advice: it is going to be all right. Even if it’s not all perfect.
Perfectly imperfect! :)
And that is why you should buy a set of clippers and buzz your husbands hair instead. And just as a side note, my first born was born 5 weeks early and has an IQ of 130. So perhaps that stylist is inhaling a little bit too much holy water or hair gel. Not sure which.
I know, right?! I actually had been doing that for awhile but got so tired of cleaning up spurious clippings of hair off the floor that I insisted on going to Fantastic Sam’s. Lesson learned!
LOL! The insanity. I’m going to offer more advice about advice… you can also pull this one “Well, you are sweet but frankly your opinion does not matter” =D or some combination of whatever ending in “your opinion does not matter.” Be blunt, you’re pregnant! FREE PASS! =)
WHAT A CRAZY WOMAN if only she could hear herself?!
Advice well-given! Something tells me that if she heard herself, she would just pat herself on the back. It takes a lot to snap some people out of crazy!
Thanks for commenting and welcome!
You made me smile :)
That was a really humorous blog and loved it. True indeed. People love to advice others. Its like they feel they are better and that if they didn’t advice, the world is going to end. Haha
Frankly, no matter how many books you read and advises you follow, life is something that teaches you things over experience.
Good luck btw. May God protect you and your little princess.
Was this a hair salon or an evangelical church? I’m surprised she didn’t try to baptize you old school with the kid still in utero to make sure she didn’t get “thrown to the lions”. Is this person aware that it’s 2012?
I think that pregnancy gives us a free pass to counter insanity with bigger insanity. You should have told her that you’re druids and you worship trees. Although not while she had a sharp object near your husband.
37 weeks tomorrow and a foot in my rib makes me cranky, sorry.
In the town I live in, most places serve as both! It’s a lot of fun if you have a sense of humor about it, which we usually do! But I’m with you; being almost full-term, my humor reserves are drying up!
I think I would’ve gone postal had my husband not been sitting there. He’s good; he keeps me on my best behavior and brings out the best in me :)
Thanks for dropping by and commenting!
Ah yes, unsolicited advice from strangers. I remember it well. It’s amazing how much people feel a baby bump is an open invitation to throw away all social niceties!
The only “advice” that has stuck with me, wasn’t from a stranger, and sadly I had to pay $150 to hear it because the hospital insisted we needed a first time parenting/childbirth class. Which we really didn’t, because no matter what question we asked we got the same answer/advice: “Every baby is different, ask you doctor”
So glad you brought that up! We took a childbirth class recently from the hospital that was chock full of semi-ridiculous people who were ready to offer up the ridic “information” that was really just common sense advice. I’ll definitely be posting on it soon since apparently we weren’t the only people who went through such an experience!
Thanks for commenting and welcome!
I love crazy stranger advice. When I was 30 weeks pregnant with twins some crazy lady tried to rub my ankles at the park. Proceeded to inform me that I was “too large” and shouldn’t be sitting but walking instead.
ACK! That’s almost as bad as the weirdos who lunge at your belly and try to rub it like the Buddha! When the randos hand out MEDICAL advice, it makes me so mad. Hope you laid the smackdown.
Haha she had my pregnant butt waddling away as fast as it could. Just wait till you have the lo, tons more unsolicited advice headed your way:)
As an internet stranger, let me offer some unsolicited advice: NEVER tell anyone what you’re going to name the kid, or whether it’s a boy or a girl. Lie and say you don’t know, or learn to say “that’s really personal and I’d prefer not to say”. It establishes a bit of a boundary with nosy people.
The worst part is, the wacky advice doesn’t quit when the baby is born.
Lesson learned! However, in the past when some rando asked me the sex of the child and in an effort to get away I just said we didn’t know, she went on to chastise our (fabricated) choice to not find out. Just goes to prove that no matter what you do, you will always get criticized by people who really should have no opinion at all.
I’ve heard that the wacky advice just worsens after the baby is born. Good thing I have a blog!
I have the advantage of a language barrier. I can always pretend not to understand. But most stuff I can cheerfully file under “fascinating cultural differences”
My landlady is the best for these tidbits, and my neighbors not far behind: when we brought the baby home, the landlady admonished us not to take him out of the apartment for eight days, and told my husband he should use his… er… powers of suction to help my milk come in. At six weeks, she informed us that it was now OK to take him out and let him get a little sun (not sure what is so magic about six weeks). Our two-doors-down neighbor has offered to send his daughter over to help with the crying (we’ve had a bit of colic), and our one English-speaking neighbor assures us that if we pick him up every time he cries, we will spoil him.
Meanwhile, total strangers at the market (women, anyway) see me breastfeeding and will take it as an invitation to come chat. I had one point out a problem with the baby’s latch, another one adjust his blanket to keep his feet out of the sun, and some random lady at the bus stop practically yelled at me because he was crying and I wasn’t feeding him: “leche! leche!” she said, grabbing her boob to illustrate.
That – all of it – is insane. Aren’t you glad we have blogs so we can out the world of the craziness it encompasses? ;)
This should teach you and Ben a lesson. NEVER go to Super Cuts. Dad and I tried to impress the importance of that no-no to you. :) (not really)
I’m quite sure the lady meant well and you and Ben were most gracious.
How does his hair look? Did it turn gray in the chair?
I love it when you comment! She did indeed mean well and I can assure you we were very polite. :) It was good that B was there or I probably would have keeled over. I do have to admit that his haircut wasn’t as great as usual because she was putting so much energy into her diatribe that she didn’t pay much attention to the practical task at hand. But at least he’s still blonde and not gray (at least not yet.) LOVE YOU!
Oh. My. Goodness. When I hear things like this, I just wonder what that person would imagine an ideal exchange to be. Oh yes, haircut lady, I know it, let’s have a mind-numbingly dull conversation in which we agree with each other on everything under the sun and expound upon said agreement at length? Ugh. I’m so sorry. Sounds like you handled it with serious grace. Props! Love you!
Wish you had been there to see us the moment we got back in the car to escape. We were both about to explode. Not sure if it was with exasperation, hilarity, or a combo of both. Such is our life :) It was hard to have grace when she started in on the co-sleeping, which I don’t mind saying is not only wacky for our lifestyle but incredibly hazardous and dangerous, but B is awesome and quickly changed the subject to Korea. He predicted that she would have little to say about that and he was right! Reason #4876 why I adore him.
Awww, B is awesome! I am so happy you have him, Em. He is the best! Love you all! Can’t wait to catch up next week!
I’m speechless.I’m without speech !!!
So were we! Wish you could have seen B’s face through the whole exchange! The whole time I could tell he was nervous that I was going to forget my manners and blow a gasket. Love you!
Wow, wow, wow. She just would not let up. I am quite impressed with your response. My 36 weeks pregnant response would have been much ruder.
At some point during her oration I realized she was basically writing a blog post for me so it was in my best interest to just keep my mouth shut and take notes.
Oh and thanks for the ping !
Lady who cut B’s hair gave you a blog post, B a haircut, and me a big laugh. Perhaps she deserves a tip?
On topic of unsolicited advice, the best advice received was in a pre-baby birth/parenting class. The teacher recommended getting waterproof mattress covers for our bed and the crib. 5 years later, our waterproof mattress covers are still in service and have protected against all manner of bodily fluids. Laura did not move to her big girl bed until I had a waterproof mattress cover on it.
That’s the thing! B actually gave her a huge tip! In all honesty I think he was so flustered by the time we left that he messed up the math in his head.
The mattress we got for her bed is supposedly waterproof itself, so we’ll see how true that ends up being once she gives it a test drive.
I think I would have enjoyed turning the tables on her and stand nervously close to her and give her back-seat-driver, intensive advice as to how to cut hair (even though I have no clue…). Just make it up as I go, ya know. Nonstop chattering advice. :D
Good idea! :) Keep your eyes peeled on E! For this lady; she’ll have her own reality show before you know it, doling out the advice to all!
When I saw you were giving out an award, I was going to try for it by advising you to eat the placenta. But then I read the rest of the post and find that I cannot compete. She is outta-my-league crazy. Which is a little sad because crazy is what I used to hang my hat on.
Thanks for sharing!
I have heard that one! I like to bring up the topic of eating the placenta to single/childless people and seeing their reaction. It is a fun parlor game. But I agree with you; rapid-fire unsolicited religious advice from strangers kind of trumps the crazy factor of placenta dishes. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Bear Grylls lately, but it doesn’t phase me too much.
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