Every time I attend a baby shower (or a kitchen tea for that matter) I ponder these bizarre rites of passage ceremonies of the western world because that’s exactly what they are.
What else explains this strange behaviour of a group of otherwise quite normal women? Once, at a kitchen tea, (or bachelorette’s party, or whatever these things are called these days), the bride-to-be was stripped naked and wrapped up in cling film in front of the whole room. An experience I’ll never forget, but that’s a story for another day.
Anthropologists study the universal phenomenon of rites of passage ceremonies in order to better understand the society itself. These rituals are supposed to demonstrate what values and beliefs are important in that society. Oi! We’re in trouble then.
We start by sitting around and talking nonsense. There’s usually a bit about dieting. A bit more about how no-one is ready for their first child. We swap birth stories. We laugh conspiratorially at those who haven’t had children yet. We agree that we were all totally unprepared for our children. We breathe a sigh of relief when the obligatory small talk phase draws to a close, and the fat chick with swollen feet (who we either know very well, or not at all) starts opening presents.
Depending on what kind of present opener she is, this signals the end of the ordeal is in sight. If she’s a quick opener, it’s just a matter of oohing and aahing through a few 100 gifts bags filled with baby vests, socks and Elizabeth Anne’s products, and you’ll be out of here. But, there are always those women who save wrapping paper for another day, God bless ‘em. Then you’re in it for the long hall I’m afraid.
But, like I say, it’s a trusty rite of passage ceremony, I have had two children and my dear friends and family have sat through two of these obligatory gatherings for me. They have kindly brought me gifts and supported me through the quite unique experience of bringing children into the world. And I really did appreciate it. Really. I never thought I’d say that, but when you’re the fat swollen person, it really does mean an awful lot.
So, I never turn one down, and you shouldn’t either. Just like those unfortunate Xhosa boys living in huts in circumcision villages wearing nothing but a lamb cloak, covered in white paint, you and I have a responsibility to our society.
If you say no to baby showers, the very fabric of our evolved western civilisation could disintegrate. Anthropologists in 2204 will have nothing to write about us. Just suck it up and be grateful you’re not a virgin Zulu maiden who, once a year, has to take your designer YDE top off, go to the river, collect reed and bring them back to the village where you have to dance for a pervy old king.