Monday, November 17, 2008

Yes, Every Time

When LL was 6 week old, I took him to visit my lab. I hadn't seen any of my labmates for two months, and I wanted to catch up and give them all a chance to meet LL. So, I arranged with my advisor to keep open one of our weekly lab meetings so that we could visit. (He actually emailed out a "talk" announcement as if it were a normal seminar... something along the lines of: "Nicky will be presenting this week. I don't have a talk abstract, but I hear she'll be bringing a live demo.")

I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating: the members of my lab, from undergrads through grad students and on up through post-docs and full-time research staff, including my advisor, are all, without exception, single guys. Specifically, single nerdy techie guys. For the majority of the meeting, LL was lying on a blanket on top of a table in the middle of the room, with all of my labmates gathered around him, asking me questions. Not holding him, not cooing at him... just kind of staring down at him in confusion and asking me questions. At one point, one of them reached out and poked LL in the stomach, just to see what would happen. I handed LL to one of the guys to hold, and he awkwardly obliged for a few seconds before commenting that he couldn't tell who was more uncomfortable, him or the baby. I did get my advisor to hold LL for several minutes, but only after promising him that LL would not be scared of his beard. (He wasn't. And I now have several priceless photos of LL laughing hysterically while my advisor made funny faces at him.)

When you bring a newborn infant into a group of normal people, you get questions like: How's he sleeping? What color are his eyes? Isn't it great when he smiles?

By contrast, here is a representative subset of the questions that I got from my labmates:

Why doesn't he have any teeth?
Every time he makes a mess, you have to clean it up?
Why won't he look at me?
What can he do?
When will he [ talk / read / stop crying / stop drooling / eat pizza ] ?
So, he was inside of you, and now he's not... how did that go?

I actually had a lot of fun visiting the lab, but it was a stark reminder that my life is divided into two very separate spheres right now.

6 comments:

ScientistMother said...

that is too funny. It reminds me of how all the males on Mr.SM's side of the family reacted. When monkey was born, they came to the hospital and stood across the room and looked at him (it was v.large private room - 2 beds!)

Fertilized said...

I enjoy the questions I get from Males .. they are much more entertaining to hear and fun to answer

Amanda said...

"So, he was inside of you, and now he's not... how did that go?" Hilarious. It almost made me spit out my coffee. Thanks (I really needed the laugh!)!

Jen said...

Too funny! Sounds very much like some scientists I know around my work!

K @ ourboxofrain said...

Their questions are awesome! (Sadly, P has asked variations on the last two.)

My work is a fairly even mix of men and women but it has been primarily women plus dads who have shown up to say hi when we've stopped by. The moms and dads (and those whose friends have kids) have tended to ask the same type of questions, while some of the younger single women have done no better than the guys you work with :)

MedWriter said...

that's so hilarious! i can totally see it happening with some of my friends who are also techies lol