I was giving a speech once to a group of career women who had decided to be stay-at-home moms, and I was waiting to be introduced when I overheard an animated conversation between two of them.
"So, the doctor said she could have a serving of grapes, but he didn't tell me how many grapes were in a serving. Is it, like, three or six? And what is the number if you cut the grapes in half so she doesn't choke? Do you count each half or each whole?
"I mean, really. How many grapes are supposed to be in a serving?"
My kids were in high school or something by then, and it was all I could do not to turn around and tell these young mothers, who were now channeling their professional energies through their children, that, all these years later, it turns out not to matter how many grapes are in a serving.
It never comes up in the counselor's office or on the college application or on the SATs. Like so much advice we get when we are young mothers ("Doesn't that baby need a sweater?"), it turns out not to matter.
Kate and Will are pregnant with what is probably the first child to ever have its own hash tag. And the Twitter advice is already flowing for the parents of #royalbaby.
The pregnancy is reportedly in the earliest stages, and if the Duchess of Cambridge hadn't been hospitalized with severe morning sickness, I am not sure Buckingham Palace would have said anything at all. All the better to forestall the Internet storm awaiting the rookie parents and their baby.
The advice given most frequently is "send the child to public schools," which in Britain actually means private schools, like Eton, where Daddy went. (#twocountriesseparatedbyacommonlanguage) It took a number of Twitter exchanges to clear that up.
There were arguments online about whether Kate should breast feed or not, which made all of us commoners across the pond so glad we are not People-worthy. There was even a Twitter feed on what she should do about her morning sickness. (#crackers)
The advice ranged from "never hire a clown for a birthday party" to naming a girl after Will's mother, Princess Diana. (Another suggested that the royal couple follow the example of David and Victoria Beckham, who named their son Brooklyn, and name the baby Queens if it is a girl.)
Perhaps the worst part about being a first-time mother is all the advice you get from well-meaning aunts and mothers-in-law. But this is really over-the-top. Kate has complete strangers giving her very public advice on the Internet while simultaneously trying to be cleverer than the one before.
One commenter guessed that Prince Harry would now be that Uncle Harry, guaranteed to behave inappropriately at all family holidays. Somebody else welcomed the pregnancy as good economic news.
If a conspiracy could be found in this pregnancy, it would be. While one guy speculated that this announcement was timed by Rupert Murdoch to take the public's mind of demands that the British media be subject to new laws, another said it was timed to take the world's attention away from new settlements Israel is building that would bifurcate any future Palestinian state.
Not everyone in Britain is happy about the news. Someone groused online at The Daily Mail that it was "another mouth for the taxpayers to feed," a comment that earned "worst rated" in seconds.
But the good news is, the child is third in line for the throne no matter whether it is a boy or girl, thanks to a change in the rules of primogeniture that the Queen signed off on after Will's marriage.
In the end, who designs the christening gown, whether the child is breast-fed or has a clown at its birthday parties — even what school it attends — isn't going to be as important as who its parents are and where the child ranks among their priorities.
As it turns out, that matters a lot.
Susan Reimer's email is email@example.com.
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