Since we had our first child, my partner’s and my communication skills have been upgraded. We’ve entered a world of code words, silent acknowledgement, and telltale sighing. Unfortunately, neither of us has quite mastered mind reading, so we're still required to ask questions of one another, like, “Have you changed his diaper lately?” and, “What did you guys eat for lunch?” and, "Ugh, isn’t our kid the cutest kid ever?” However, I’ve also noticed there’s a particular batch of questions moms shouldn’t have to ask their parenting partners. These questions, while valid in some contexts, are the kinds of things I’d hope would be communicated with me prior to me having to actually ask.
Again, as it bares repeating for the sake of fairness, my partner is not a mind reader, so exceptions are totally allowed; especially after our kiddo came into our bed at some ridiculous hour in the middle of the night and neither of us got any sleep so we’re not exactly thinking clearly (this happens pretty regularly, actually). On days like that, all bets are off, and I’d like to think I’d be pretty understanding, even if my partner of 12 years had to ask me my name.
That said, in a perfect world and on a perfect day when our child is consistently fed and engaged in the world around him (and when no one is sleep-deprived), these are the questions that shouldn’t come up:
"Can You Please Take A Turn Parenting Today?"
I suppose there might be some co-parenting arrangements that would require this question, but if I'm going to use myself as an example, this question would, um, not go over super well. Especially given how much parenting responsibility is generally shared in my house. If one of us were to ask this question, it means something is totally off about the other person, and they were not pulling their usual weight.
"So, How Do You Feel About Letting Babies Go Out In Just Socks And/Or Any Other Difficult And Controversial Parenting Topic?"
I mean, there are countless parenting issue with no right or wrong answer, so to find yourself starting from scratch and asking your partner to fill you in on their thoughts and feelings means, there might have been some missed opportunities for conversation along the way. Or, you might just both be super busy, which I'm definitely not trying to judge.
“Wait. Where Did Our Young Child Go?”
To be fair, if it's not preceded by "wait," this one can often be answered with a quick, "He went downstairs" or, "She's getting a banana," or "I thought he was with you?" (just kidding about that last one). But adding an attention-grabber like "wait" means that there's a slight OMG-moment happening, which I wouldn't wish on anyone.
“What Is All Over Our Child’s Face And Hair?”
I mean, usually if our child is covered in something (marker, peanut butter, pieces of tape), the events leading up to it have at least been semi-communicated (play time, snack time, the usual).
However, in those moments when you truly don't even know what is on your child, or how it got there, you can pull this one out if it's absolutely necessary.
“Why Does Our Child Smell Like Old Cheese?"
I mean, we try to make a point to only feed him cheese that's not old, so this one is a bit of a mystery. If my partner knows the answer, I'd like to be told as quickly as possible, please.
“Who Are All These People In Our Living Room?”
Exception: this is the first thing out of your mouth as you walk into your own surprise baby shower. However, if this happens under any other circumstances, you have room to put your foot down.
“Will You Please Stop Posting Pictures Of Our Child With A Fake Mustache?”
I mean, I know that they're cute and adorable, you know they're cute and adorable, and so do his grandparents and our good friends who are commenting. However, I don't want these following him around for the rest of his life.
“Um, Please Don’t Practice Sword Swallowing In Front Of Our Toddler”
OK, technically this isn't a question, but a polite request that should never need to be made. If you find your partner modeling this kind of behavior, I might suggesting removing your child from the scene, and then congratulating them on their mastery of such a unique and interesting skill. Definitely in that order.