Big-Eared Babies: Should You Play Crib-Side Psychic?
You’ve just had your baby. The new grandparents descend on your home to “ooh” and “aah.” Then someone pipes up with, “I think she has her grandpa’s ears!”
What? Those mudflaps?!
For some reason, relatives can’t resist playing psychic when it comes to babies. They love to predict what our little half-formed blobs of flesh will look and act like as they mature. Maybe some part of it is trying to lay claim to all the good genes from their side of the family.
We parents need to be the voice of reason here. We should model the practice of self-restraint and wait patiently as our littlest ones grow to see which traits mirror our own. Yet the allure of playing sideshow fortuneteller sometimes gets to be too much for even us, I’m afraid. We get sucked in. We, too, squint into pinched babyfaces like they are fuzz-topped crystal balls.
Sometimes it’s great fun to guess whom a child will take after. You anxiously await the moment when those puffy little eyes open for a second prophesy, whether they’ll be blue or brown. A first gummy grin becomes a divine sign that your littlest will be kind, outgoing, forgiving and a philanthropist of a magnitude never before seen in this century. You try to catch the tufts of fine hair in just the right light to convince your mother that it will indeed be more her shade of blonde than your reddish tint. Your comment on the short, stubby legs — a pass down from your in-laws’ ancestors.
There’s a downside to this little crib-side carnival act, though.
I’m not sure what possesses us to fret when our tiny tots don’t come out perfectly symmetrical or balanced in every way. These little people often have misshapen heads, flattened noses, bumpy skin, squished ears, and birthmarks. One friend said his daughter — now a pretty 12-year-old — bore a striking resemblance to boxer Joe Frazier when she was born. New babies have had quite a ride — give them a break!
Sometimes parents worry even when babies do come out perfect. I’ve seen babies with well-formed little noses from the get-go. But mom and dad worried that, since the nose went beyond the usual button, their kids would end up hauling around a huge honker.
Of course, the pastime of foretelling a baby’s future doesn’t stop at looks. I remember my first daughter crying at a few weeks old when my parents came calling. My mom said, “Oh, I think she’s going to be demanding like you were.” Well, thanks, Mom. I know family means well, but can you disassociate a true personality flaw at a few weeks old from, say, diaper rash? I don’t think so.
I know you can resist playing the all-seeing, all-knowing sideshow psychic with your kids. When my daughter was an infant, I tried to remind myself that God wasn’t done with her yet and that she might be a “work in progress” for 12 to 14 more years.
I think you can relate. Think back to what you looked and acted like at 14 years old. Have you, like me, buried your high school yearbooks in the garage as far behind the unused camping gear as you could?
Look at preteen boys. Some of them remind me of puppies with those huge, floppy feet they pad around on. Then, all of a sudden, they sprout up and are good-looking, podiatric-balanced young men. At about the same time, that sullen boy-man person that’s been skulking around your home takes a hike — and not a moment too soon.
So save yourself some fretting and put off the Madame Futura act for a decade or so. Your baby’s looks and personality will change many times as she grows. The hair color may darken, the face might grow to balance out the ears, and that demanding side may diminish as your baby learns how to use words instead of cries to tell you what she wants.
Our first daughter is almost 6 years old now. This now semi-formed little being doesn’t have a huge head (as predicted), she doesn’t have red hair (as foretold), and she isn’t overly demanding (as anticipated), but she does have my penchant for organization and her dad’s long toes.
OK, so she has my husband’s sense of humor and natural singing ability, too. I’ll give that to his side of the family.