Not a place to bathe your baby

 Society today is a conglomeration of weird rituals that have little practical use in our lives. And yet we cling to these traditions like a toddler when his mom decides he doesn’t need that sucker anymore. And one of the most baffling instances of this is the modern baby shower.

In my mind, the baby shower is a way for friends and family to give the mother-to-be gifts that will be useful for them in raising the baby. Simple, right? And it was with this intent that Katie and I perused the registry of a friend who is expecting soon. On it we found a temporal scanner thermometer that is identical to one that has been great for us, so we got it for her. The next day Katie attended the baby shower, and when she told me about it later we both realized something odd. Perhaps it should have been obvious, but baby showers aren’t about getting something useful for the mom. They’re about gathering around to coo “Awww” at cute tiny clothing, because that’s what most people bring to these things. Never mind that diapers and wipes are far more practical (and we have given those many times for that reason), it seems that the social aspect of the ritual is more important than the original reason for these gatherings.

So, this is one of those things that does actually make a kind of sense once you understand what it really is, kind of like that movie The Happening. If you think about it as a B movie, it’s… well, it’s still pretty terrible. But it makes more sense that way. Every time I have a realization like this it feels kind of like breaking a secret code, as though one more little piece of the universe just fell into place.

How about you? What have you learned lately?

3 comments:

)en said...

It's true. Nobody's going to ooh and ahh over your practice gifts and pass them around the circle to be gushed over. I'm pretty sure that's 90% of it. I've given so many baby gifts that I had to clarify I had NOT, in fact, made myself, I just decided to start lying and say i made everything. All those baby clothes with tags? Handmade. Towels? Handsewn. Breast pads? Made 'em (with eco-friendly materials).

)en said...

practical--grrr.

Joel said...

I prefer "practice gifts."