However, most people only have so much tolerance for a show-off. And truthfully, babies aren’t like other items people want to show off. Perhaps to a few over-maternal people, babies practically show themselves off, but I think that to most of the human populace, babies are not the always the single most unbelievably impressive thing they’ve ever seen. After all, babies are everywhere. They also have qualities that are less than endearing to the casual bystander: their general lack of hygiene, their piercing cries of neediness, their disregard for social customs regulating the expulsion of bodily fluids. Many people may also have had babies of their own, in which case your baby has quite a steep curve of opinion to overcome. Showing off your baby isn’t like showing off your freshly refurbished ’57 Chevy or your new 52-inch high-definition TV or your shelf of Oscars. It can by hard to impress non-family members with your new baby.
So I’ve decided to give new parents some tips on how to show off your new baby so as to take full advantage of the enthusiasm and jealousy of other people. You may also have some tips of your own, which I would greatly appreciate. That would help me prove to the universe that my beautiful baby girl may perhaps rival the Baby Jesus as the single greatest infant to grace the human race.
· Play hard to get. Act nonchalant about people seeing your baby. If other people perceive you as being needy in showing off your baby, they are bound to be turned off. That sentence just prior to this bullet point above? Don’t say anything like that. An air of diffidence will make your baby seem more intriguing, and people will want to know what you’re hiding. Also, don’t offer your baby for other people to hold. Let them ask you, and when they do, make a show of considering it for a few moments.
· Highlight novel affectations. Does your baby do something that is particularly cute and appealing? Does she have a big smile? Does she coo in an oddly adult manner? Does she have a strange tic that makes her look like she’s winking in a Betty Boop impression? If not, then get creative and interpret something she does quite often as being special and unique. Don’t oversell this cute little trick lest others get wise to your hype, but do make a point of interpreting this little novelty affectation every time it happens. “Look, she’s winking at you!” “Hey, she laughs just like Fran Drescher!” “She’s giving you the finger again!” You get the picture.
· Dress to the nines. The baby, not you; no one cares what you look like. Do not underestimate the power of an adorable outfit. Boys have a harder time with this than girls, since the ratio of cute boy clothing to cute girl clothing is 1 to 5. (The ratio for ugly boy clothing to ugly girl clothing is 1 to 10, so be sure to exercise good taste if you have a girl.) Do not let yourself be hampered by practicality or functionality; the goal is maximum cuteness. Fuzzy shoes, head bands, mittens, and other pointless accessories are highly recommended. Also anything with baby animals embroidered on it. Be careful with clothing with slogans; if the slogan is in any way outdated, people will laugh at you and your baby, unless the slogan revives a nostalgic or slightly ironic sensibility. For example, “Who let the dogs out?” = not okay under any circumstances; “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!” = hilarious ironic history reference, as long as it’s accompanied by a picture of a monkey paddling a smiling canoe. If for any reason dressing up your baby is not working, then…
· Go commando. There is something within the human genetic code that makes the sight of a naked baby trigger involuntary convulsions of giggles in adults. Regardless of how strange or funny-looking an infant may be, nudity will instantly transform that baby into an irresistible vortex of sweetness and adorability. Be warned, however, that this trick should only be employed if your baby is absolutely spic-and-span spotless. If your naked baby has a spot of poo on her bum, then this trick will have the opposite effect. And do know that if your little boy chooses this moment to spray, you will not only have destroyed any efforts to impress people with your baby, you will have lost friends and possibly have voodoo curses hurled at you.
· Presentation is everything. Harness the power of all five senses when presenting your baby to others. This is why it is good to have people come to your home to see your baby: you have control of the environment. Move the crib under a skylight so that the sun shines directly on her. Make people take off their shoes and put down a soft, furry rug for them to walk on. Bake a cake or some cookies so that the room smells like butter and sugar. Choose an emotionally affecting song to play in the background, like “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” or “Isn’t She Lovely.”
· Practice your smile. Yes, that means your smile. There is a particular type of smile that you should employ when gazing at your baby. It should convey to your visitors that you are communing with your baby in a way that would send the Lady Madonna herself into a jealous rage. Make it wide, but with only a hairline of teeth showing; the dimples in your cheeks should be ever so slightly pressed so as to highlight your continued youthfulness; you should muster whatever aural energy you have to try and literally beam light upon your child’s face. Also, tears can be an invaluable help here, but only in small amounts. Sobbing is a turn-off.
· Last of all, make it short. Always leave people wanting more. If you sense that either your visitors are not impressed or are too impressed, claim a feeding time or a diaper change and cut the visit off. Also do this if your baby starts doing something that is not cute, like excessive drooling or farting like a old man. Also, if your baby starts crying inconsolably, take them away from view, although a little light whimpering can be quite effective. But the ultimate goal is for your visitor to leave wishing that they had a baby like yours, and this won’t happen if they feel they’ve had enough.
Hopefully these tips will help you show off your baby to a populace that is becoming increasingly jaded and unimpressed by our media-saturated short-attention-span culture. Start employing these strategies and soon everyone will know how amazing your baby is and they will be consumed with jealousy. All you’ll have to worry about then is making sure these people don’t kidnap your baby!