One such neighbor has always been something of a Nosy Nellie. She is a rare and unique variant on the theme, in that she frequently enjoys stuffing her life in your face rather than just trying to stick her nose into yours, but the latter clearly offers her great pleasure as well. I worry that this Nosy Nellie may have tricked your Dad and I into a thorough run-down of all the baby- and parenting-related things we need to be careful of, scared of, aware of, and otherwise prepared for. She called (thanks a lot, Dad-in-Law for sharing my phone number!) and invited us over to look at a crib she had gotten for free from an online bulletin board. Thinking "aww, neighborly kindness!" we trotted over to her house...and were cornered for close to an hour while she thrust utterly inappropriate and personal advice upon us.
Word to the wise, Batman: when someone whose eccentricity rating surpasses "pretty darn weird" invites you into their house to look at something they got for free that they want to give you for free, think twice. It may - just possibly - be a ruse.
We entered Nellie's house, and immediately the red flags went flying. First, she wants to give us a tour of all her recent renovations. Okay...cool...she's a friend of the family, and we haven't seen her house in years (your Dad) or ever (me). Still, a little odd. Second, she escorts us upstairs - through a door at the base of the stairs that she closes and latches behind us - and into a bedroom where we see the most potentially death-inducing crib mankind has ever engineered. This thing looked like it had all the structural integrity of a pile of chopsticks held together with paper clips. The sides consisted of round poles that are roughly a baby head's width apart, and one of the sides (the one that is meant to drop down, a feature determined to be massively dangerous and now not allowed on any new cribs) was so wiggly that it looked more or less like it was going to slam down if bumped against by a sleeping baby. Basically, it looked like a device that a serial killer might use to kill only the babies he really didn't like.
Your father and I made immediate and definitive eye contact that said "this is absolutely not an option, and we need to get out before this crib jumps out and tries to kill us." By then, it was too late. I politely mumbled something about the crib being too big (to which she responded that it was the same size as every other crib), then about not even being sure that we want a crib (which she thought was just ridiculous), then about how we probably just want to put a mattress on the floor so that you can chill out in your room if you wake up on your own some time, and so you never fall out of a high bed (which she, mysteriously, thought was a great idea). She let us off the hook: we didn't NEED to take the crib, but by that point, we were a captive audience. We did need to listen to her lecture us on the following:
- Breastfeeding, and how I would have major challenges with it having a baby who receives surgery so early on (duh).
- Breastfeeding, and how it is a miserable and oftentimes impossible process (thanks for that encouragement).
- Breasts, and how they suffer from breastfeeding (yeah, I get it).
- Sleep, and how we will never do it ever again. Ever.
- Free time, and how we will never have it ever again. Ever.
- A sense of personal freedom from the crippling obligation of parenthood, and how this destroys every other aspect of your life, making even the simplest pleasures (like pooping uninterrupted) practically worthy of a parade.
- Her children's struggles with a baby who wouldn't latch, wouldn't sleep, and couldn't be left alone, and how they basically had to practice deliberate abandonment in order to wean her off of their anal-retentive attention.
- The fact that her children's experiences with their offspring, and her experience with hers decades earlier, are all COMPLETELY RELEVANT AND WORTHY OF OUR EVERY MOTE OF ATTENTION AND CONSIDERATION.