Because I’m not a fully functional human being, I sometimes have strange responses to things. It’s fine, I’ve existed up to this point idiosyncratically and I’ll likely continue along the same path until I no longer exist. We all work with a range of people. Some co-workers grow to become friends. Sometimes with others water cooler talk drags on uncomfortably long (an important part of adapting to a workplace is learning who you can make flippant asides to (that won’t result in a conversation you weren’t looking for)). The vast majority of them are simply people who do the same thing as you do, or inhabit a similar office space. As someone who has a lot of acquaintances, some of whom I’m pretty close with, co-workers who qualify as friends are a huge anomaly in my life. I make friendly conversation with most people, since the alternative would be either not talking with them or making unfriendly conversation. Neither seem to be great options. What I’m getting around to is this: I really hate the co-worker on maternal leave bringing in their infant thing.
In no way am I saying that there’s anything remotely wrong with bringing your kid in to work in order to parade them around. You do you, and other people enjoy it. Totally fine. When it happens though, I have to be elsewhere. I just don’t have that kind of relationship with the people on my team. If I was on some kind of parental leave, my co-workers would see me no sooner than 365 days post-pregnancy. Every single time that someone brings a kid in, I don’t know what to say.
I still haven’t evolved to the point where I find babies interesting. They make shitty conversation, are pretty bad at doing anything and don’t understand my pop cultural references. So there’s no attraction in getting to hangout with an infant. I too lack the knowledge about child-rearing that gives me conversational ammo for their parents. They’re obviously gonna want to talk about their baby, who I know nothing about. Outside of that, there are the usual assortment of questions about what life is like with a baby that I’m not interested in. If I wouldn’t have chatted with the parent about non-work subjects while they were still working in the office, how would them having a kid change that?
It feels like a social obligation. I don’t want to pretend that this person is suddenly interesting because they reproduced, that’s disingenuous. While they’re in the office though, it can be hard to avoid them if they’re conversing with people in the middle of a main thoroughfare. There’s no way to get to the kitchen for more water without bypassing them, so I get stuck parched at my desk hoping they’ll just leave without noticing me.
Maybe I need to work out strategies around this. I could just pretend in my head that they don’t have a baby, and ask them questions that I’d usually ask them as if they didn’t. “So, what’ve you been doing these days?” “How’ve things been lately?” “That Toronto weather, eh?” “Trump right? So crazy right now.” (then launch into the Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, nos from Beyonce (feat Jay Z)’s 2003 single “Crazy in Love”) Then again, people like talking about their kids. So as an addendum to that, I could totally splice in some throwaway about the baby to my previous plan. “So what’ve you been doing these days [with the baby]?” “How’ve things been lately [with the baby]?” “That Toronto weather [with the baby], eh?” “Trump right? So crazy right now [with the baby]. Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no.”
Conversely, the underside of my desk is very spacious and I get a WiFi signal there. I could hide from my problems instead.