I am so pleased to be hosting my first guest blogger. Monica and I have been friends since kindergarten and she is Mom to a sweet little boy who is about 6 months older than my daughter. It has been amazing raising babies at the same time. We are far away physically but many of the issues we deal with are the same. One of the things that came up in our discussions was the many (some sweet, some squirm-inducing) ways other adults interact with our children. I asked Monica to weigh in.
He’s Just Not That Into You
Your eyes meet across the restaurant. He flashes you a toothy grin, you smile back at him. His eyes sparkle in amusement and then he sends a wave in your direction. You turn back to your companions but then he’s caught your eye again with that big grin. On your way out you stop by his table, turn to me and exclaim with a smile, “Quite the little flirt you’ve got on your hands.”
My heart drops and I cringe internally; I do my best to keep my smile from slipping. I know you didn’t mean anything by it and that you may have thought you were paying a compliment, but c’mon, he’s a toddler. A flirt? Really? He’s not a flirt and he’s just not that into you. He’s got many more years down the road to actually flirt with the objects of his future affections. These smiles, waves, and coos? They aren’t flirting.
My little one smiles and waves at everyone we pass on the sidewalk. He’s friendly with the balloons at the store. When they catch his eye, he gives them emphatic waves and yells “ba-ooon, ba-ooon.” He has waves and BIG smiles for the characters in the books we read. He’s a friendly toddler. He’s kind-hearted and most importantly, he’s still a toddler – and toddlers don’t flirt.
I think my biggest issue with my son being called a flirt is what it implies. To flirt is to be on a personal level with someone and he’s certainly not on that level with you. It implies that there’s a reason or motive behind his smiles and waves other than the simple curiosity of being a child and trying to interact with the world he lives in. It just feels so wrong to me that an adult would imply either of those things about someone who is still in diapers.
And so I sit there and struggle to find the words to respond within that split second exchange. It always catches me off guard so I’ve got nothing witty to toss back in response. You’d think I’d have figured out a form response by now, but I haven’t. So this is my PSA, a call to action if you will. Please, swap out ‘flirt’ for something else.
A few examples to get you started:
“Your little one has such a great smile.”
“Such a friendly little one you’ve got there.”
“Your little one just brightened my day.”
“What a social little one you’ve got on your hands.”
“Your little one has such joy about them.”
“What a fun-loving little one.”
All great alternatives to calling my or anyone else’s kid a flirt. And if ‘flirt’ just slips out before you can stop it, because, let’s be honest, we’ve all had something we didn’t necessarily intend to say come out of our mouth, just take a second to collect yourself and start over. I guarantee this is one parent who would appreciate the effort.
*Monica Rainey is a mom from The Mitten. In her copious amount of free time (HA) she enjoys yoga, binge reading books, rocking out to tunes, tasty tequila drinks, writing, and going on everyday adventures with her husband and son.