This evening I stayed late at work, while all the sad little mummies and daddies rushed home to their… Oh, hang on, I’ve got some of them, too! Never mind. They’re cute, they’ll manage. Anyhow, where was I? Oh yeah, I was late in the office with some of the cool kids when I overheard the following conversation:
So, yeah, I’m actually thinking of “un-friending” her on Facebook since she had that baby. It’s all she ever goes on about.
I know! New parents are boring as hell! Always on about sleeping patterns and poo! Can’t they understand? We don’t want to know!
[cue OTT laughter]
Yeah, it’s mad. It’s like, when they put scan photos up on their desks. First you think, ooh, that must be the solar system! They you realise it’s the inside of their missus’s stomach.
[everyone totally dies at colleague’s unrivaled wit]
At which point I decided it was hometime. Hence I gathered my things and left, aiming for the nonchalance of the child-free as I brushed past what must surely have been candidates for the next Edinburgh Comedy Award.
If you’re a parent who’s reading this, at this point you should be experiencing a mixture of self-recognition and shame (but don’t actually say anything about how you’re feeling; you’re boring so you need to shut the fuck up). You might have thought it’s okay to mention your kids in casual contexts – contexts in which someone might be mentioning Top Gear, or offering a status update regarding when they’re going to marry Robbie Williams – but actually it’s not. In fact it is inappropriate. You’re not interesting enough and as for your baby – well, I’d rather read a sodding telephone directory.
Don’t feel bad, though. I mean, it’s not like you are the most boring person in the history of boringness (which I have, of course, studied in detail, or at least until I got too bored). There are always people who are more boring than you. People who go on about their cats, for instance. Cats are way more boring than children. Have you got a cat? Does your cat scrawl DEATH on random bits of paper? Does your cat ever ask you whether dolphins have wheels? Did your cat, at the age of five months, say “bye bye” to Vera Duckworth on the very night she died in Coronation Street? I bet it didn’t. Compared to my offspring, your cat sucks.*
I tell you who else are boring: people who indulge in second-hand, unfunny riffs about how boring new parents are. As Morrissey would say, that joke isn’t funny any more (but not cause it’s too close to home and it’s too near the bone. Well, not much, anyhow). All this might have been mildly amusing, once, but now it’s such a fucking cliché that it really, really isn’t. It actually makes talking about dirty nappies seem radical. So people are talking about the minutiae of their lives and you don’t like it because it doesn’t include you; get over it. The joke is old, but guess what? Babies are, by their very nature, always new! So people will always want to talk about theirs! (Unless there are parents who nobly prioritise being interesting: “what, that baby we just had? Don’t wanna talk about it. All been said before, mate.” In which case, I suspect we’d all worry.)
I’ll be honest: I too get pissed off when people who’ve previously amused me start babbling on about their babies non-stop. And I was totally pissed off when Charlie Brooker did that “for one week I get to dribble inanely about my new baby because I’m a journalist who spawned and you’re not” piece. But this is because I usually find Charlie Brooker really sharp and witty. Most people aren’t really sharp and witty all the time. They just say stuff and sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes it isn’t, and you try to respond to it politely. Unless of course it’s stuff about babies. Then suddenly going on about what a boring sod your best mate has become is perfectly acceptable.
Well, anyhow, I’ve had babies and I’m way more interesting than those people who think moaning about baby bores is remotely original or funny. I mean, I wouldn’t push my claims to being interesting any further than that. But hey, it’s a start.
* BTW, I really like cats. That was just for argument’s sake. And my cat could do all of these things. In fact, I only had children because she popped her little paw-sized clogs.