With baby photos, men and women speak very differently
I have been conducting research into the differences between men and women when it comes to the viewing of baby photos. My conclusion? The contrast could not be more stark.
As evidence, I present this rough transcription of what happens when a brand new baby photo is presented to a group of women:
“Oh, my God, look at that hair! I’ve never seen a newborn with such hair!”
“The precious! Eight pounds 6 ounces? A chunk!”
“Look at the legs on that kid. He’s gonna be a long-legged handsome man someday!”
“The eyes are totally his grandma’s. But the lashes are more his aunt.”
“The lashes are exquisite. That is unheard of for a baby to have such lashes.”
“No, the eyes are his dad’s. His dad looked exactly like that the first week.”
“There, right there … see the dimple? That dimple comes from the mom’s mother’s side.”
“The outfit! Is that the most precious onesie? I’d love to get one of those for my granddaughter.”
“What I see is just plain … intelligence. Just look at that face. That is one smart little boy. You really can tell, you know. It’s the round cheeks.”
“Well, he’s absolutely adorable. Adorable and precious. The most adorable and precious baby. Let’s see more!”
“Yes, please show us all 123 of your pictures!”
Now here’s what occurs when you show the same picture to a bunch of men:
“So. That’s the baby.”
“Pretty nice. Pretty nice baby.”
“What kind is it?”
“What’s the deal with its forehead? That’s normal, right?”
“That’s cute. A cute baby.”
“So, should we order a pitcher, or what?”
My research has been based on my experience with a new, adorable and precious grandson. I have always known, in the back of my mind, that men are in general very poor audiences for baby-viewing of almost any kind. But in my euphoria over being a first-time grandparent, sometimes I forgot myself. Once, after a round of golf, one of my pals made a casual inquiry about how little Noah was doing. The correct response would have been to say, “Just great!” and move on to the subject of three-putting and its cure.
Instead, I made a rookie mistake. I whipped out my iPhone and said, “Here! I just got a new video! Let me show it to you guys!”
Even I could not misread the look of, well, horror on their faces. The only thing worse than subjecting men to a round of baby photos is subjecting them to a two-minute video of a 1-week-old, flopping around ineffectually on his back.
It struck me instantly that I was asking them to do the unthinkable. Common courtesy would have required them to watch the entire thing, make the appropriate noises, and then pass the phone around the table to the other guys. It would have been a six-minute ordeal all around.
I salvaged the situation as best I could, by putting my iPhone away and saying, “Actually, it’s a little long. Maybe later.”
Their relief was written on their brows. The subject turned to: Blasting effectively from sand.
And when I offered the same video to a group of women? They devoured it. They would have preferred it projected on a 25-foot big screen, like at a sports bar.
Not all men are crass about babies. Some men truly love to look at baby photos. Within reason. However, even the most willing men are unlikely to read too much into a baby photo. Most men are content to say that a baby is good-looking and healthy, as opposed to offer a sweeping opinion about whether those long, gorgeous fingers presage a career as a concert pianist.
Honestly, I don’t believe that men are actually crass at all about babies. I, too, when shown other people’s baby photos, have been inclined to think, “Yep, that’s a baby, all right.” I love babies. I know that babies are our most profound creations. It’s just that I, like most men, don’t feel qualified to analyze any given baby. We do not feel inclined to make value judgments.
However, there is one vital message I would like to convey to my fellow men: If a baby photo makes you want to say, “Yep, that’s a baby, all right,” do not – repeat NOT – say it out loud.
Now that I am a grandparent, I can see how easily feelings can be hurt. So the solution is really quite easy. Simply smile and say the word, “Cute.” If the new grandparent is still staring expectantly, wanting more, just repeat the word “cute” as many times as necessary.
When I show my pictures, I’m usually satisfied at about four.
Jim Kershner is a senior correspondent for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at jimkershner@ comcast.net.