Friday, 20 April 2012

Sorry, what was your name again?

I've just returned from a breastfeeding support session, held in the local SureStart centre. I don't know what it is about this particular social situation that makes me feel as though I've never had a conversation with another human being before, and everything I know I learned from Google but haven't yet had a chance to put into practice.

I forget the names of women I've met countless times before. I sure as heck forget the names of their babies. I have to stare hard to figure out the gender so I have at least one conversation starter. This baby is wearing purple. What does that mean? (Says she who dresses her boy in anything but blue if she can help it, jeans excluded of course. I'm anti-gender stereotyping but not when it comes to other people's children. How am I supposed to start a conversation without it? Ah - pink headband. Phew!). So, how old is your little girl now? Nice save.

I'm so busy concentrating on The Rules of Polite Conversation, i.e. turn-taking, asking questions without blurting out my life story, smiling and nodding, that I forget what's already been said. I repeat myself. It wasn't even interesting the first time around. I start a sentence, change my mind about one tiny little aspect, then finish awkwardly so as not to say it at all.

All the while trying to smile serenely, desperate to look as though I fit in, and that I am A Natural Conversationalist. Clock-watching and calculating when it would be socially acceptable to leave, seeing as I've only just arrived. In the end it is M who dictates. He's too distracted by all the excitement to feed, I'm afraid. What a shame! I'm going to have to go before he gets shirty. See you again next week?

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