Don’t give out obvious pieces of advice.
Now, I could say, don’t give out obvious pieces of advice to pregnant ladies. Pregnancy advice is certainly a big “thing.” And maybe that’s what got me thinking about this. But really, no one really likes receiving stupefyingly mindless advice, pregnant or not.
Have you ever spent half a day trying to get your DSL or cable modem to work? Where you enter all your account info, check all your settings, google around on your phone, cycle power off and on, call your tech minded friends, before finally, exhausted, you admit defeat, and you turn to your last possible option: You call tech support. And the first thing they ask is, “Did you plug the modem in?”
That is what I mean about obvious advice. Yes, it’s a fair question, because there are teeming hoards of dumbass people out there. So the most entry level instruction has to begin with the lowest common denominator. I get that. It doesn’t soothe the burning, liquid hot rage when someone asks me an exceedingly rudimentary question. But I get it. You are testing how dumb I am.
On an interpersonal level, we love to give advice. We want to be helpful. Most of the advice we give each other comes from the best of intentions. But that doesn’t stop us from thoughtlessly stating the obvious. And when you have an observable condition, like oh, say, pregnancy, the advice comes hard and fast. And it’s often the same sentiment, over and over again. And again. And again.
So for me, this is my blog, and I write about me and my stuff, and me. And with me, I have never resorted to feigned helplessness to get what I want. For some people, mostly women I hate to say, bubbleheadedness is their shtick. Fake helplessness irritates the fuck out of me. But now I’m dealing with something a little different and it is equally irritating: Presumed helplessness.
I’ve already made jokes about how I’ve lost my mind a little, and I’m a sort of klutzy, but I’m not full-on stupid. Yes, I am pregnant. And yes, this is the first time I’ve gone through this. And yes, there’s a whole shit ton of stuff I don’t know.
But I am not a bubbling puddle of incompetence. I know how to eat. I know how to sleep. I know how to drive. I can still get around, though I may grunt more as I do it. These are the types of things you don’t normally forget over the course of a couple months. Yet I’ve gotten advice on all these subjects, presuming I didn’t know, or I’ve somehow lost these basic faculties.
Some women like to bask in the glow of extra attention and the goodwill that a pregnant belly brings out in people. There are certainly some nice benefits, and it’s not hard to be gracious and thankful when people want to do thoughtful things for you. People want to help. They want to participate.
The hard part is when the same advice comes over and over, from all directions, again and again. I employ the “smile and nod” technique, though on the inside, I feel my smile getting thinner and thinner.
Yes, I am pregnant. No, I am not an idiot. No, I am not helpless or incapable. Yes, my cable modem is plugged in.