Monday, January 5, 2009


This morning before my mind was out of low gear, my friend CBSongs hailed me online and we began to chat. I offered a scrap of news: overnight, our mutual friend Ann had gained a new grandson to brag about. Then I said, "He is three weeks ahead of schedule, so he weighs only 5 lbs."

And then CB asked, "Why do they do that? Announce the baby's weight and height? They always do that: 'Tyler P. Tinker, 5 lbs. 6 oz., 20 inches long.' I don't get it."

As mentioned, the grey cells were in compound low, complaining at being asked to read at this point, let alone answer philosophical questions. So I grumped, "Well, shoot, CB; what do you expect the announcement to say? 'No teeth, no hair, no volume control, yellow-green poop. Stay tuned.' Cheez!"

We went on to higher things, like the fact that there is a ferry from Ft. Myers to Key West. (CB has intentions of getting out of the Ice Belt for a bit this season.)

But her question set me thinking. Why do people always put the weight and length on baby announcements? They put date of birth, name. . . and poundage. Inevitably.

I'm very glad this social rite doesn't seem to carry past the person's arrival on the planet. So far I have not received Christmas newsletters that announce, "Dwayne made the Chess Club; he's 6'3" now and weighs 122; his hair is almost to his waist," or "Here is Carl with the German Brown he caught at Fish Lake; the fish is a ten-pounder, Carl is pushing 220." On the other hand, the DMV still thinks it's cute to demand ht/wt/hair and eye color on licenses. As if there were no such thing as colored lenses, wigs, padding or lies. And besides, now they take thumbprints, so let's lose the vital statistics on the licenses, shall we?

Back to baby announcements. CB's question got me wondering. Why DO his parents put weight and length on the announcement of Tyler P?

1. What else is there to say? They're sending out an announcement that a couple of Grandmas are going to scrapbook: it should be worth the glue.

2. For future astonishment. One outsized blogger I know enjoys telling folks she weighed 5 pounds at birth. Years ago, I had a freshman student who stood 6'11". He maintains that he was 18 pounds and 27 inches at birth, and, if challenged, he whips out a laminated newspaper clipping as proof.

3. The mother carried him for nine months and delivered this camel through the eye of the needle, so to speak. She wants credit for every ounce.

I know, I know. Dumb answers. Okay, CB; I give up.

1 comment:

wordsfromhome said...

As a mother of four (smallest was 5 lbs 2 oz) I can tell you that it is emotionally satisfying to know the weight and length of each of my babies, even though it was 35 years ago when I started accumulating the statistics. Mug shots of newborns do not give a hint of what the kid will look like a year or two down the road, and it is hard to tell them apart without a label in the photo album. Just little bundles with a face and (maybe) some hair. But the statistics are defining. Besides, length and weight are critical at every doctor visit for the first 5 years, and mamma anxiously waits to see the latest charting of growth and percentile as confirmation that she is doing a good job.