Etiquette for baby compliments? - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-07-2010, 10:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So when another mama with a baby says your baby is cute/beautiful, how do you handle the obligatory return compliment?

Do you just immediately say how cute/beautiful/adorable their LO is also? Or do you just say thanks and try to work in a compliment later on in the conversation?

How offensive is it if you compliment someone else's kid and they don't compliment yours back?

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Old 04-07-2010, 11:08 PM
 
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I don't know, I always feel awkward when someone says my kids are cute or whatever, because I feel like I should say thank you, but I feel stupid thanking them because it's not an accomplishment of mine that my kids are cute, right?

But I don't usually return the compliment, because I feel like they would think I was just saying it because they did.

It wouldn't offend me in the least if someone didn't compliment my kids in return. I can't really imagine being offended by something like that. I guess if someone were offended, that would mean they only complimented your kids in order to get a compliment in return.

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Old 04-07-2010, 11:40 PM
 
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I don't know what is "proper", I just know what I do.

I usually smile and say to my daughter, who is only months old, say thank you. I figure it will teach her and is polite. I mean, obviously she isn't going to say thank you.

As far as returning the compliment...I am awful at this and feel if I do just return it, then it seems less genuine.

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Old 04-08-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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I struggle with this too. I get compliments all the time on my 3 year old DDs looks (which are always kind and appropriate, but make her uncomfortable if directed to her). I generally just give a genuine smile and thank you and move on. I do often compliment others children - specific features, clothing, skills, behaviours, etc, but not necessarily as a return compliment. Still, I feel a little awkward about if I should respond with a compliment when I receive one.

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Old 04-08-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sugarpop View Post
I don't know what is "proper", I just know what I do.

I usually smile and say to my daughter, who is only months old, say thank you. I figure it will teach her and is polite. I mean, obviously she isn't going to say thank you.

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Old 04-08-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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That's interesting...If someone complimented YOU, your dress, your hair, whatever, would you feel compelled to return a compliment to them about their hair or dress?

I wouldn't. I'd just be gracious, say thank you and move on.

When people compliment my kids though, I can't really say thank you, because it is not a compliment of me...so I usually say "Yes, I agree, it's true." and smile like this: unless I am feeling irritated by them and then I say "Ya think? Ya want 'em? You can have them, half price."

I guess if they have kids right there I am not going to be like "I know, they're so much cuter than your ugly little ones, aren't they?" but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to compliment them unless I genuinely felt it.

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Old 04-08-2010, 01:05 AM
 
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I don't think there's a "right" way to respond, but I know that if I pay someone a compliment and they respond by paying me the *same* compliment, 9 times out of 10 I'm going to think them disingenuous.

Why not just thank them for the compliment, and then pay-them-or-not-pay-them whatever compliment(s) you otherwise would have?

Honestly, while I love to hear people say nice things about my baby (or any of my kids), I have never once thought to myself, "Huh. I told them *their* baby was cute, but they never said that *my* baby was cute..." I'm sure it's happened, I just...don't really care.

I think you're overthinking this--has any of you ever been on the other side of that situation and actually felt offended because someone didn't re-pay your compliment with a similar one??
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by liliaceae View Post
I don't know, I always feel awkward when someone says my kids are cute or whatever, because I feel like I should say thank you, but I feel stupid thanking them because it's not an accomplishment of mine that my kids are cute, right?

But I don't usually return the compliment, because I feel like they would think I was just saying it because they did.

It wouldn't offend me in the least if someone didn't compliment my kids in return. I can't really imagine being offended by something like that. I guess if someone were offended, that would mean they only complimented your kids in order to get a compliment in return.

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Old 04-08-2010, 01:51 AM
 
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I just say thank you-my kids are cute

Seriously though I get sooooo many compliments on both my children, DD is super cute and spunky with huge blue eyes and to die for lashes(thank you DH), people compliment her often. She says thank you. Now with DS it's weird because I have friends all with babies the same age, but DS is just more smiley and personable, so it's hard in that way. He is really cute, but it's his personality-which has been obvious since he was like a month old, he's just engaging.

Saying thanks to me is the best way to go about it.

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Old 04-08-2010, 02:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sugarpop View Post
I usually smile and say to my daughter, who is only months old, say thank you. I figure it will teach her and is polite. I mean, obviously she isn't going to say thank you.

As far as returning the compliment...I am awful at this and feel if I do just return it, then it seems less genuine.
I do the same thing with DS. As for returning the compliment, I always do. I try to say something specific so it doesn't feel forced. Something like, "Your little guy is just adorable! Look at his long, thick eyelashes!"

Frankly, I think it's impolite not to say thank you when someone compliments your child. I can't take credit for the green eyes God gave me, but when someone compliments them I still say thank you; it would be downright rude to say, "Yes they are gorgeous!" and leave it at that.
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:15 AM
 
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I just say thank you, and if their kid also happens to be cute (), I might comment on their cuteness. Or make conversation about something else, if there is time and it's not just in passing.

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Old 04-08-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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Like a PP, my response varies based on my mood

I might say "well then, he's all yours, you won't think he's so cute at 3am!!"

Or

"I realize I might be biased, you know since he's my kid, but I think he's adorable too!"

Or

"Thanks, his eyes are my favorite feature, but his hair doesn't even begin to compare to your dd's curls, how beautiful!" which sort of returns the compliment.

Or

"He got his daddy's looks, thank goodness!" which is a self-depricating statement I guess, I don't mean it to be, so I've been shying away from that response. I've said "handsome like his daddy!" a few times.

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Old 04-08-2010, 12:13 PM
 
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Usually, I just smile and say thanks. Or I say "Say 'thank you!'" to DS, as a way to include him in the conversation...after all, it was a compliment to him, not me! Most people who have commented on DS don't have their own kids in tow, so I haven't been faced with the obligatory return compliment conundrum too often, but if it were to happen at a playdate or something, I'd probably reciprocate in some way, but I wouldn't return the *same* compliment because that seems insincere to me.

I wouldn't be at all offended if I said something positive about another baby and the parent didn't compliment my child back. In fact, return compliments always make me a little uncomfortable because then, I feel like the other parent thinks the only reason I commented on their child was to get a compliment back, if that makes sense.

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Old 04-08-2010, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the input mamas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarpop
I usually smile and say to my daughter, who is only months old, say thank you. I figure it will teach her and is polite. I mean, obviously she isn't going to say thank you.
I've done this but I feel like it leaves this awkward silence since obviously my dd isn't going to respond. (She's 10 mo, she has a few words but 'thank you' sure isn't one of them and she doesn't say her words to strangers either.) Maybe it will be smoother when she's older (and bigger and uglier, heh).


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Originally Posted by hakeber View Post
That's interesting...If someone complimented YOU, your dress, your hair, whatever, would you feel compelled to return a compliment to them about their hair or dress?
Good point. No, when that happens I usually say thank you and change the subject.


Quote:
I guess if they have kids right there I am not going to be like "I know, they're so much cuter than your ugly little ones, aren't they?" but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to compliment them unless I genuinely felt it.
LOL!!! I find most kids are pretty cute (it's their job) so I can usually come up with something that is complimentary and also genuine.

A few times things have gone overboard and I have felt weird. Like one mama at the park just wouldn't let it go about how beautiful DD was, and then later in the conversation when I mentioned my DH spoke Hindi to her at home, this lady said, "Oh, she's mixed! That's why she's so beautiful!" I just felt weird about that and also I couldn't just keep saying thanks. Luckily her kid was pretty cute too so I gushed about his mop of blond curls for a while and felt better.

But yeah, I guess I will stop stressing about this. I can just do the thanks-and-move-on.

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Old 04-08-2010, 06:37 PM
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I guess I have a different perspective about saying thank you. Maybe I'm just rude. I feel like I don't own my child in the same way that I own my body and my clothes, so I don't feel right If I were to thank someone for complimenting my child, it would have to be something to the effect of "Thanks for the compliment," or "It is sweet of you to say so."

I am also of the opinion that telling a child to do something that they are unable to do is pointless, and telling a child to say something that they don't mean is teaching them to be dishonest. When my child is old enough to understand, I intend to teach her that if someone says something nice to you that makes you feel good, a nice thing that you can say back to them is "thank you" and then let my child make her own decision what to say.

No offense to others who choose differently. I know, it's really a trivial thing, and I don't think that any of you are wrong for saying "thank you" or rhetorically telling your children to do so. I just overanalyze things. I have the same issues when people tell me how "good" she was during something. She is always good (by nature), and I don't control her behavior. She does!
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Old 04-08-2010, 07:53 PM
 
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I guess I have a different perspective about saying thank you. Maybe I'm just rude. I feel like I don't own my child in the same way that I own my body and my clothes, so I don't feel right If I were to thank someone for complimenting my child, it would have to be something to the effect of "Thanks for the compliment," or "It is sweet of you to say so."

I am also of the opinion that telling a child to do something that they are unable to do is pointless, and telling a child to say something that they don't mean is teaching them to be dishonest. When my child is old enough to understand, I intend to teach her that if someone says something nice to you that makes you feel good, a nice thing that you can say back to them is "thank you" and then let my child make her own decision what to say.

No offense to others who choose differently. I know, it's really a trivial thing, and I don't think that any of you are wrong for saying "thank you" or rhetorically telling your children to do so. I just overanalyze things. I have the same issues when people tell me how "good" she was during something. She is always good (by nature), and I don't control her behavior. She does!
I totally agree with you.

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Old 04-08-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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I normally just say thank you and smile real big. I feel that returning the complement can be disingenuous. I am trying to be more authentic in my person-to-person interactions, so that has me fighting some old habits like the rote, mirrored complements, or self-depreciating remarks like one pp mentioned. I will try to find a kind thing to say about someone's child at some point in a conversation, but if it's just a stranger I nod and smile and say thank you.

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Old 04-08-2010, 08:18 PM
 
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I also feel awkward saying thank you when someone compliments my son. They complimented him, not me. I usually say, "well we sure think so, but we're probably biased!" when people tell me he's cute.

The other day he got the most awkward compliment ever. DH and I were at the bank and the teller was grinning at him (our son, not dh, LOL) and asking how old he was. Then he said,

"He obviously got his good looks from his dad"

*long pause while I'm trying to decide what to make of that

then he says, "because his mom's still got her's"

By this time the transaction was over, so I just mumbled thanks and walked away confused. I mean really, what do you say to that? Thanks for making me think you were saying I was ugly, but then actually saying my dh is? I suppose he was trying to be funny, but it was just weird.

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Old 04-08-2010, 08:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JMJ View Post
I guess I have a different perspective about saying thank you. Maybe I'm just rude. I feel like I don't own my child in the same way that I own my body and my clothes, so I don't feel right If I were to thank someone for complimenting my child, it would have to be something to the effect of "Thanks for the compliment," or "It is sweet of you to say so."
I think this is what most people mean when they thank someone for saying something nice. When I thank someone it is definitely in the realm of, "Thanks for the compliment." I assume that this is just understood.

When I thank someone on behalf of DS, I don't feel like I'm being dishonest or forcing something upon him that he can't understand; I feel like I'm teaching him and exposing him to common cultural courtesies from an early age, similar to why I am also exposing him to books at this early age. He can't read and may not even comprehend the story, but the exposure to books is hopefully planting the seed for him to become a good reader.
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Old 04-08-2010, 08:55 PM
 
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I also feel awkward saying thank you when someone compliments my son. They complimented him, not me. I usually say, "well we sure think so, but we're probably biased!" when people tell me he's cute.

The other day he got the most awkward compliment ever. DH and I were at the bank and the teller was grinning at him (our son, not dh, LOL) and asking how old he was. Then he said,

"He obviously got his good looks from his dad"

*long pause while I'm trying to decide what to make of that

then he says, "because his mom's still got her's"

By this time the transaction was over, so I just mumbled thanks and walked away confused. I mean really, what do you say to that? Thanks for making me think you were saying I was ugly, but then actually saying my dh is? I suppose he was trying to be funny, but it was just weird.
Maybe he was flirting with your dh and then caught himsef and decided to step back into the closet.

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Old 04-08-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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I guess I have a different perspective about saying thank you. Maybe I'm just rude. I feel like I don't own my child in the same way that I own my body and my clothes, so I don't feel right If I were to thank someone for complimenting my child, it would have to be something to the effect of "Thanks for the compliment," or "It is sweet of you to say so."

I am also of the opinion that telling a child to do something that they are unable to do is pointless, and telling a child to say something that they don't mean is teaching them to be dishonest. When my child is old enough to understand, I intend to teach her that if someone says something nice to you that makes you feel good, a nice thing that you can say back to them is "thank you" and then let my child make her own decision what to say.

No offense to others who choose differently. I know, it's really a trivial thing, and I don't think that any of you are wrong for saying "thank you" or rhetorically telling your children to do so. I just overanalyze things. I have the same issues when people tell me how "good" she was during something. She is always good (by nature), and I don't control her behavior. She does!

Exactly! But it doesn't solve the strange silence lol.

I hate saying thank you to a baby compliment. She is her own self! And although we are working on promoting manners at home, I'm not going to force it in a public setting with a complete stranger.

I've found myself just trying to turn it into a random tangent. "Oh, she has adorable red hair!"

"Yeah, I wonder if she will have that temperament to go with it when she gets older?"

or

"Yeah, it comes from DH's family. Do you have any redheads in your extended family?"

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Old 04-08-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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I don't know, I always feel awkward when someone says my kids are cute or whatever, because I feel like I should say thank you, but I feel stupid thanking them because it's not an accomplishment of mine that my kids are cute, right?

But I don't usually return the compliment, because I feel like they would think I was just saying it because they did.

It wouldn't offend me in the least if someone didn't compliment my kids in return. I can't really imagine being offended by something like that. I guess if someone were offended, that would mean they only complimented your kids in order to get a compliment in return.


If I see a really cute baby or child, I will say so but certainly don't expect anyone to give an obligatory compliment back to my children. Conversely, I may reciprocate a compliment if someone says my kids are cute, but only if I really feel their child has whatever attribute I'm complimenting. Otherwise it just isn't genuine.

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Old 04-08-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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i usually just smile and say yeah, because well my lo's are beautiful

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Old 04-08-2010, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Angelorum View Post
The other day he got the most awkward compliment ever. DH and I were at the bank and the teller was grinning at him (our son, not dh, LOL) and asking how old he was. Then he said,

"He obviously got his good looks from his dad"

*long pause while I'm trying to decide what to make of that

then he says, "because his mom's still got her's"

By this time the transaction was over, so I just mumbled thanks and walked away confused. I mean really, what do you say to that? Thanks for making me think you were saying I was ugly, but then actually saying my dh is? I suppose he was trying to be funny, but it was just weird.

Ha ha, I think he was complimenting *you*! I would have taken that as a funny flirtatious exchange and answered in kind. Like, "It's cause I make HIM get up with the baby in the night" or "I guess the baby drool looks good on me!" or something like that.

I have gotten more and more relaxed over the years about compliments for me. When I was younger I used to get all embarrassed and weird. The older and uglier I get the easier I find it to just be lighthearted and fun about it. I don't know why that doesn't translate to accepting compliments for my LO in the same vein.

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Old 04-09-2010, 03:10 AM
 
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I say thanks then often find something I can genuinely complement about her baby. It's often not hard since babies are so cute.

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Old 04-09-2010, 03:30 AM
 
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i think most of the time i smile really big and agree with it. LOL
or sometimes i say thank you.

and no, i don't dish out compliments out of a sense of responsibility.
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:47 AM
 
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I'm glad to know I'm not alone in sometimes feeling awkward in these situations. When someone who does not have a child/baby with them (often older women) compliments my son, I usually just say, "thank you." But when someone with a baby/child of their own does, it feels more awkward. My main approach is to say, "thank you," and then if possible compliment their child then or at some point later in the conversation (a genuine, specific compliment).
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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i always feel more than just plain awkward about compliments about the baby's looks. i totally hate remarks about appearances-- i can't really even explain it, it just goes contrary to our values.
it's fine when someone says what an awesome smile the baby has, but when they say she's pretty, it kind of creeps me out and makes me feel as though anything she does or is is only secondary to how she presents herself physically. if that even makes sense.. but i bring my own baggage into it perhaps. (my mother was one of those people who put me in beauty contests, etc, when i was little).
also, in certain cultures, it's not a good thing to praise the beauty of a child...oddly enough, that's what the other part of my family thought/thinks, and why it's not always wise to compliment the looks of children.

Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?

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Old 04-09-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 4myfinn View Post
I do the same thing with DS. As for returning the compliment, I always do. I try to say something specific so it doesn't feel forced. Something like, "Your little guy is just adorable! Look at his long, thick eyelashes!"
I do that too. So far I've been able to quickly identify something sincerely compliment-worthy to return. I don't think it sounds ungeniune when I'm specific.

The compliment DD gets (always) is on her eyes, she has huge cute brown eyes. I've returned compliments about babies and small children based on their looks (the last one I remember had the cutest smile), their aptitude ("so verbal!" or "climbs so well!"), their demeanor ("such a happy baby" or "such an outgoing, friendly child"), or their improvement in something (DD goes to swim class at the Y, and I recently mentioned to a father how his son has so clearly gotten the hang of swimming these last couple of lessons, and the father seemed pleased).

I'm quite socially awkward but returning compliments has always gone well for me, everyone seems pleased. I think the key is to be specific and sincere. If you just say "oh, your kid is, uh, cute" it would probably fall flat. Especially if, honestly, the kid isn't that cute. All the same, I've always found something sincerely positive to say about every single child. Even one that I know that I don't really even like (which I hate to say, but there it is), she's as sharp as a tack and I can sincerely compliment her on it.

ETA: Sorry, I see this is specifically about babies. IMHO it's easier to be specific when complimenting older babies and children. Younger babies, I just stick with showing an interest in them if a compliment isn't forthcoming - how old, how is everyone doing, etc.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 04-09-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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I kinda have a different approach to this whole scenario! So I think I will add it in!

Bella just exudes personality - she smiles a LOT and is very alert and terribly engaging. She's also just the sweetest little thing to look at, for sure, like most every baby! I think what does it though is her personality, you know? People will come up and just go crazy over her multiple times in WalMart - and there she is, just smiling and laughing at them - it's super sweet and quite hilarious!

Thing is, Bella has made my heart and my life SO much better, so my response to the compliments is actually usually to give her ANOTHER one, something to the tune of "yes, she has just made my life SO wonderful. I LOVE having her around." Then, if said person has any children I will give them a smile. Usually they will smile back or be shy and smile from behind a parent's leg. So, then I can easily strike up a conversation about them as well, like "I'm sure you know exactly how that feels, since I guess this cutie belongs to you?"

Then we might have a short conversation! Her little ones feel warm and fuzzy, she or he will feel warm and fuzzy, Bella will be grinning from ear to ear - as am I and well, everyone's day is better!

That's what I do - unless I'm in a big fat hurry!

Mama to Josie , lost 10/10/08 at 37.4 weeks .
and my rainbow baby, Isobella Mai ...born 1/12/2010 ! in profile...
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