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Baby Show and Tell

Happy

It only looks adorable because my blog is on mute

Today, I would like to make a stand. I would like to voice an opinion that may not be taken very well by some. I may be losing friends here but I feel someone has to say what many people are muttering under their breath: The workplace is no place for babies.

I work in a very sociable office with some lovely people. Some of these lovely people meet other lovely people and they fall in love. How lovely. They then exercise their right to make with the jiggy-jig and lo, after the leaving cards have been signed and the baby shower has been showered, the mummy-to-be pops out a sprog and she is to-be no more.

Even though it is clear to all that the woman has gone on maternity leave to perform birthly duties, for some reason, it must occur to these new mothers that we might not have believed them. Much in the way that we’re uncertain if a lady on the train deserves our seat because we’re not sure if she’s up the duff or has just paid too many visits to the cake shop, the new mum thinks that perhaps we’ve been looking at her for the past nine months, thinking that she’s actually just a porker and the “prenatal scan” appointments have all been a pathetic ruse to spend time face down in a trough of Cornish pasties.

She must be so concerned that we’re all sat at our desks, cursing her for defrauding us out of the price of a babygrow/bib gift set that will soon be pawned for chips, that she can’t sleep at nights. There’s only one thing for it, she has to prove that yes, someone found her attractive enough to lie on top of her and no, she didn’t claim to be on maternity leave just so she could get liposuction. To prove this, she’s bringing the evidence, the bundle of joy, into the office!

Now, I would like to point out here to all my beloved chums who have recently sprouted childlings that I adore you still. I am delighted for your news, I am very happy that you have increased your gene (paddling) pool and I would still very much like to see your wonderful self again in the future and yes, I understand that this may almost certainly involve you having a person-shaped appendage and half the attention span, but please, can that social interaction not take place in my office? 

The things is, dear woman, and you remember this from when you too spent your day pushing paper instead of pushing a pram, that I’m rather busy and I have many grown up work related things to do that require no small degree of my concentration and some cooperation from my colleagues, which, upon your entering the building, I am no longer afforded.

The sound of a baby crying is one of the most skull piercing, nerve jangling noises known to humanity. It’s supposed to be. It’s so you don’t forget to check which end of your offspring requires loading/unloading or that you’ve left it on the roof of the car before you drive off. It is also one of the few noises guaranteed to make me want to staple my ears closed, evacuate the building and seek refuge at the bottom of a bottle of wine, which isn’t conducive to reducing my towering in-tray before it topples over and kills a colleague. No matter how adorably docile your bouncing ba-ba might be at home, under the stark strip lighting of a corporate beehive, your tiny treasure is merely a ticking time bomb of noise pollution.

Now, I say that “one” of the noises guaranteed to see me run for the valleys of Loire and Napa is a baby’s shrill wail, the other is a sound, not that the baby itself emits, but a sound that it generates in another way. You see, even if your teeny tot isn’t shredding its lungs and my ears with sonic blasts of a bowel-evaquating frequency, there is still an unbearably deafening noise coming from the area surrounding it that makes answering a telephone or holding a basic thought simply impossible.

“OOOOOOHWOOSIEWOOSIE AHHHHHOOCHIECOOCHIE DIDDUMMYGOOGOO SOOOOOOO SWEEEEEEEEEET!!!!!”

That, ladies and gents, is the collective sound made by a group of women surrounding a pram. In fact, no, that is the sound made by a herd of women streaking across the office, sending sheets of paper flying like a snowstorm, desperate not to miss the chance to see a small infant. If you listen carefully, you can also hear the sound of 20-30 uteruses creak with longing.

Once these high-pitched harpies have taken a hold of the child, the mother can do nothing but watch helplessly as a game of “aunty” rugby ensues, where each hormonal office worker snatches possessively at the swaddled sweetie and darts off back through the maze of desks in a bid to shove it in as many co-workers’ faces as possible, in case they hadn’t already been alerted to the fact that yes, what’s-her-face in accounts really was preggers.

Amidst all this babe-induced screeching and coo-ing, some of us are still trying to run the company. I’m pretty sure that the gentleman in Chicago who called London long distance from his mobile phone, with an urgent life-dependent query, could do without being deafened by a sound that would explode a bat’s eardrums. And besides, he, like the rest of us, probably already saw the 300 pictures of junior on FaceBook.

I don’t take my computer to a crèche, so please, dear parents, don’t bring your family to my desk. I assure you that we didn’t think you were just fat (and even if you weren’t pregnant, keep the babygrow gift set and we’ll say no more about it, no harm done), but if you do still feel the desperate urge to parade your offspring for all to see, may I suggest the glitzy world of child pageantry?

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About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

45 responses »

  1. Rich Crete

    THANK YOU!

    Reply
  2. You are SO right!! I will admit I was one that came back after maternity leave to show the baby off. That’s what they do, show it off. But my little guy was quiet. I, too, can not stand the shrill of a baby’s scream. But I know what you mean. It’s distracting and it doesn’t look good to clients. Best thing is to have a get together at YOUR house after work hours. This way everyone can make their “ooohs” and “ahhh’s” in the comfort of your own home and not bother other people who are actually trying to make a living.

    Let me up you one here:
    My son (the little guy-now 24 yo- mentioned above) was in ICU after a car accident two years ago. His friends were all concerned and one by one they stopped by to see him. That was fine. They’d stay for about 15 minutes or so and leave. I mean the child was in no condition to socialize. So no reason to linger in the room.
    THEN…someone who I only heard about comes up the elevator, with her “boyfriend/father of her child”, and the pram! Yep, she brought the semi new born up to the 7th floor in the baby carriage into ICU!
    It gets better…..
    I see this and sort of hold them at bay just outside the room. It turns out that the nurses had to do some tests and needed everyone out of the room anyway. Whew….so I take them outside the ICU dept and into the nice wide hallway with seats and candy machine. They hung out with me (remember, I’ve NEVER met this girl or her boyfriend) in the hallway for about 25 minutes. They weren’t going to leave until they saw my son. SO….after awhile we trek on back into ICU to see if it’s ok for them to see my son. The nurse must have seen the flustered look on my face and insisted that they leave with the baby. “You really shouldn’t bring a baby into the ICU unit, ma’am.” said the nurse. OMG, THANK YOU!
    Like WTF? Common sense you twit! Welcome to Pennsylvania! The lower class part of Pennsylvannia! Oi!

    Reply
  3. I hear you. My office is overrun with babies. They just happen to be what the government amusingly refer to as “adults.”

    Reply
  4. awww 🙂 warms my heart this does.

    Reply
  5. I too share your feelings about bringing babies into the workplace. It is not only disruptive, but costly. Each time a baby has been brought into my workplace over the years, you can take the number of women (and sometimes the men) and multiply their salaries times at least one hour, and you have the probable cost of the visit. The same can be said of visiting former employees, who, for some reason, feel the need to not only visit, but to make it a prolonged visit that keeps any constructive work effort from taking place for at least an hour, sometimes more. I don’t think this is done with the intent of bankrupting the company, but most employees don’t think in terms of the equivalent of several man-hours of work being costly to the company when it is lost forever. I’m not a baby-hater, but I agree there is a place for them, and it’s not in the workplace.

    Reply
    • I’m tempted to play the game too. Ask everyone to gather round to admire a particularly delicious lunch that I made myself and brought all the way in to work. That’s fair, right?

      Reply
      • hehehehe. I’m afraid that where lunch is concerned, my survival instincts kick in strongly! I might share a picture of the particularly delicious lunch, which would have been lone gone by that time. I would at least let them vote on how good it looked, but that’s as close as I’d let them get to it. (I grew up during the war!)

        Reply
  6. Another very well-written post as usual but alas, I cannot subscribe to the sentiments. My colleagues and I are typically glad to see an absent co-worker back for a visit with a new born in tow. It turns out to lighten the atmosphere for the brief time they are around and people tend to be more relaxed for the visit. We’ve shared great and sad times together in and out of the workplace on any number of milestones: weddings, leaving dos, team dos and the rare death. And new-borns are right up there too. I can’t think there’s ever been a time in the past ten years when someone has fumed about a baby visit. But we may just be the exception here!

    Reply
    • Is that your uterus I can hear creaking James?

      Judging by the hits, comments and high fives from my co-workers, I think your office is definitely in the minority. I have to say, I thought the opposing argument might come from a woman but it seems even the mothers are in my corner. 🙂

      Reply
      • Nah, my uterus works fine! I think we stick out because we work irregular and unsocial shifts so we tend to see more of each other at work than our own family. The trick is to remember that they are NOT family!

        Reply
  7. Oh my word, this is the best thing I’ve read in quite some time. Thank you for a very well-written and laughter inducing post. I snorted a couple of times; I’ll admit. (The thought of a woman’s uterus creaking with longing was especially snort-worthy!)

    I totally agree; babies are annoying and are not conducive to work. Now, imagine the fresh hell that is working in a day care center. 🙂

    Reply
    • When I die and they send me to Hell (I’ve accepted that my rock and roll lifestyle has secured me a first class ticket), I fear I may be condemned to an eternity working at a childcare centre.

      So glad to have induced snorts. The only higher accolade is when I induce loss of bladder control.

      Reply
  8. Diego Serrano

    Nice rant.
    I’m in total agreement.
    I’ve always said, I have no use for babies until they reach an age where they’re able to respond to threats, say around two or three. Then its game on.

    Too bad they don’t make a junior taser.
    I can totally see you sneaking up on the little bastard and putting his lights out for an hour or two.

    Reply
  9. Spot on and I’m very baby friendly 😉

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  10. I’m in full agreement. I was once cornered by a co-worker who brought her child in to work during her maternity leave. The baby was homely. I didn’t know what to say to her and actually wanted her to leave my station because I was embarrassed for her!

    Reply
  11. You are so delightfully cranky! And so right.

    Reply
  12. I’ve a challenge for you….take a baby doll into work and parade it around in the same way, act as if she were real, say she needs changing, feed her etc and have a slightly crazed look in your eye, let us know how it goes down!

    I’ve never of approved of office romances anyway, though it would be difficult in my company of 9 people. (All men so no chances of babies turning up)

    I’ve known friends in other companies all have countless affairs or a quick snog when drunk, office life should be completely separate,

    I want to know nothing about my colleagues private lives. Any one of them could be a serial killer for all I know and I want to keep it that way.

    Reply
    • I don’t mind knowing about colleagues private lives, it saves watching soap operas, I just don’t necessarily want the evidence invading my sphere of professional adultism.

      Nine men you say? Send me an application! 😉

      Reply
  13. THANK YOU!!! I’ve felt this way for years and thought I was the only one!!! Just because I’m female does not mean I have an interest in babies. I’ve had so many bitchy comments made to me by female co-workers in offices over the years because I don’t pay leave my desk and join the circle paying tribute to the visiting new mothers.

    Reply
    • Judging from the epic response in terms of high fives, hits and hoorays from far across the globe, you are very, very far from alone.

      Be brave, stand firm, You’re in good company and many of the people who have told me they enjoyed this post have children of their own!

      Reply
  14. Gee

    Gee so lucky!Maternity leave? taking bub to work? in my day, many century’s ago, if you had ,[ or were found to be pregannt ]a baby you were sacked ,imediate dismissal. Women were not even allowed to get married .

    Reply
  15. The way forward is to hire more guys!! Gay ones, they can practice baby making as much as they want and the belly even may grow, but no babies will come out from down south, well conceived ones!!

    Reply
    • It’s true that the gays are less likely to start sprouting sprogs but there’s nothing to stop you from pulling an Angelina and parading a rainbow of babies around the office!

      Reply
  16. Very funny – I’m in stitches. You’re right! Babies and offices don’t mix! Why would you want to show your precious offspring to the people who despise you most in the world anyway? That won’t help your cause! 🙂

    Reply
    • You’re right, if your colleague don’t like you in the first place, interrupting their phone calls with screeching isn’t going to help, on the other hand, if they really like you, they’ll like you enough to visit you and the baby at home!

      Reply
  17. For the past year or so, every time I go on Facebook I feel like I’m opening an Anne Geddes catalogue. Ugh.

    Reply
  18. I don’t think you should lose any friends over this; you make a well-reasoned, rational case.
    Good for you!

    Reply
    • Thanks! It seems my fears were completely unfounded and I’ve had a flood of support from all corners, including from owners of bratlings. On this basis, I’m now petitioning the HR department.

      Reply
  19. My colleague brought in her baby recently, it looked the same as the last one she had. Thankfully a customer arrived out of the blue and I didn’t have to pick the thing up and feign interest.

    Reply
  20. Reblogged this on Raising Jonah and commented:
    Much though I am against the large scale city based apartheid of parents of young children from the rest of the world, the woman does make a bloody great point. Keep your love produce out of the office, peeps.

    Reply
  21. i totally agree, and would like to add that those of us who are struggling to have children really don’t appreciate this in the workplace either.

    under normal circumstances we can avoid things to do with babies that may upset us (for example couples undergoing IVF rarely watch live TV so they can skip the adverts that may contain babies), or if we know we’re entering an environment where there are likely to be babies we can steel ourselves, grit or teeth and get through it

    the one place we don’t expect to see them (and therefore have our guard down) is the workplace so to return from lunch to find the entire office going ga-ga over a newborn and having it thrust in our face really isn’t appropriate and is likely to really upset someone going through fertility problems

    i turned up to my own 15 year long service buffet at work to find a newborn present. ended up eating sandwiches in my car whilst crying. thanks for that!

    Reply

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