Chuck Klosterman described our strange common expressions best in his essay about how we compare two completely different things by saying they’re like “apples and oranges.” We say it so often that don’t realize how silly that expression really is. There are, in fact, many ways apples and oranges are quite similar. They’re both fruits. They’re both round. They both fit in your hand. You can eat them. You can throw them. With this many similarities, why do we use them as the go-to examples of “different things?” Revised for accuracy, the expression should be something like: “That’s like comparing apples and suspension bridges.” We need to modify the expression to fit the example.
Conversely, we often have the meanings of these phrases a little mixed up. My whole life, I used the idiom “sleep like a baby” to describe wondrous, deep sleep. Peaceful. Refreshing. Rejuvenating.
Then I had a baby and realized the expression is totally wrong.
If you sleep for an hour and a half, then wake up screaming for your mommy, you’ve “slept like a baby.” If you can only fall asleep with your foot pressed up against your dad’s cheek, you’re “sleeping like a baby.” If a successful night’s sleep is completely dependent on the rest of your family navigating the hardwood floors like ninjas walking on bubble wrap, for even the slightest creak wakes you up, then yes, you’re “sleeping like a baby.”
On that thought, I have some new idioms to add to our public lexicon of go-to expressions. Based on my experiences in fatherhood, I’ve learned a lot about infant behavior and would like to submit these expressions for the below scenarios. Feel free to use them when applicable.
7. Eat Like a Baby
If you ever find yourself repulsed by foods that have been carefully prepared and spoon-fed to you. If you gag at the very touch of it to your tongue, while not even a minute earlier you were trying to stuff a paper towel in your mouth, then you are eating like a baby.
6. Laugh like a baby
The best moments in humor are those times when we’re sitting in a meeting or in the back of church and suddenly remember a joke from earlier in the day, and we can’t help but chuckle at the inappropriate time. That’s nothing like babies. Their humor is immediate and sudden. If you laugh like a baby, that means you absolutely crack up at the smallest nothing. And when I say “crack up,” I mean it. Gasping for air, snorting–the whole nine yards–at anything from a sneeze to the way you can blow your bangs. When that same insignificant thing happens again, you crack up just the same. This happens exactly seven times. On the eighth time, it’s not funny. You don’t laugh. Regardless, the people around you try several more times, but your blank, solemn stare highlights their foolishness. That’s laughing like a baby.
5. Poop like a baby
There’s no warning. You’re sitting there on the floor, minding your own business. You look at your significant other and smile. It’s a sweet, tender moment. Then you fart, loudly. In that instant, two liters of feces shoot from your rectum with enough force that if you were just a little more aerodynamic, you’d be lifted into the stratosphere. You’ve flooded your pants well beyond capacity, which means you now have to also change your shirt and wash the carpet. Congratulations! You’ve just pooped like a baby.
4. Pee like a baby
Babies don’t stop peeing. If you change their diaper, no sooner will you get it all strapped up before they’ve wet themselves again. Did you know the average child will go through 10,000 diapers before they’re potty trained? That number actually seems low to me. It actually would probably be much higher if it wasn’t for most parents throwing their hands up after a few changes in a row, saying, “We’re just gonna leave you in that one for a little while longer.” Unless you install some sort of drainage system to collect the urine, you’re either going to change diapers every 5.2 minutes, or you just let them be wet for a little while. Peeing like a baby means constant peeing. Forever peeing.
3. Cry like a baby
From newborn stage to four months, babies cry only for good reasons. That’s their only means of communication, so unless they cry, they wouldn’t be able to tell you that they’re hungry or uncomfortable. That’s not the case after that. That’s why the phrase “cry like a baby” has some subtle nuance. To be correct, the phrase must follow one of these conditions. Either you’re crying huge crocodile tears for very good reason OR you’re crying for absolutely no reason at all. Well, other than to get attention, disrupt peace, or generally get your way no matter how ridiculous the request.
2. Get dressed like a baby
The song Hokey Pokey was written to describe the experience of dressing a baby. Put their right leg in, they pull their right leg out, you put their right leg in, then they shake it all about. Then, instead of doing the Hokey Pokey, you turn yourself around to avoid screaming when you realize that the other leg is now out, along with both arms.
1. Love like a baby
This is an expression we need to introduce immediately. So often we compare true love to birds or a transient, trendy idea of soulmates. If you need the perfect metaphor to describe true, honest, perfect love, just look at the way a baby loves his or her parents. It’s pure, unconditional love. If you’re a parent, then you already know this, but it’s worth repeating: we’re lucky to have children. When we have bad days or life gets hectic or when we don’t feel put together, our babies don’t see that. They only see us for who we really are. If we want to emulate pure love, then we just have to love like a baby.