The Tricks I Use to Determine if Other Parents Are Nuts
The next thing I'm usually keen to drop in a conversation is a hot-button parent issue, but to do so in a way that is both personal and non-advocate. Having a kid turns a lot of people into fundamentalists about aspects of birth and child-rearing that leaves them intractable to other viewpoints. I don't mean coming around to other viewpoints, but being completely unable to allow other viewpoints to exist without open scorn.
Usually I mention my wife's C-section. Fond as I am of the face and blond curls that adorn it, my daughter has a really large head. We can both wear the same hat, and underneath my own brown locks is a skull worthy of Bonk. Basically my daughter was born the same way that rescue crews remove an obese person from a house with a small door during an emergency.
Some people find the idea of C-sections cheating. Real birth only counts through the vagina, and the more competitive of parents I find insist that anything less than a 100 percent natural, no-drug experience is the "right way." If you mention a C-section, or a circumcision, or breast-feeding and receive only polite and reasonable questions and comments in response, you're onto a good start. If the conversation takes a turn where it sounds like a Jehovah's Witness spiel mixed with a mafia protection racket tone, then you've probably found a nut bar.
Speaking of religion, I am always put off by the question, "So where do you go to church" when it comes out of the blue like a comment about the weather. There's nothing wrong with church, as far as I know, but folks that just assume that you are a regular churchgoer tend to do a lot of assuming on other things. Those assumptions, I find, usually end up with me being accused of being immoral on many tenuous grounds.
Luckily, the mother of my daughter's brief Sunday playmate tripped none of those wires. She was a lovely girl content to walk with me behind out kids passing the time.
"Do you live near," I asked.
"About three blocks down in a third floor apartment," she replied. "It makes me feel safer as a single mom being that high up?"
"Sensible," I replied.
"Plus, you know, it's a good part of a zombie plan," she added a little hesitantly.
I paused, looked at her, and nodded my approval. There's the crazy you avoid, and the crazy you high-five over. Never waste the latter.