A photo finish

DEAR baby photographers up the main walkway of the local shopping centre,

HE’S five months old. Or is it six months old? I’m not sure. What I do know is that is the answer to the question you are about to ask me as I see you heading my direction.

“How old is your little one?” will come the question, followed by some back and forth banter, ending up with the offer of a free photo shoot… that will then lead to a paid photo shoot, and you collecting a commission.

I have enough photographs of him at home, thank you.

It’s a very clever ploy. Most parents, particularly those with new bubs, are more than willing to stop for a chat and a skite about their bundle.

Essentially, photo booths like yours have popped up in centres throughout the country and are playing on that willingness to “talk baby”.

Usually manned by five or six 20-somethings with the ability to appear genuinely interested in babies, they can spring from nowhere on us unsuspecting mums or dads who really just want to get to K-Mart then Coles before the whinging starts.

I’m tempted to throw a curve ball your way every now and again. Perhaps the baby is resting carefully on my hip as you ask about his age.

Straight faced, I reply: “seven years old”, and you wait for your response.

My thinking is that this puts you in an awkward situation as you mentally toss around the idea that perhaps my child has a growth deformity, which shouldn’t really be commented on.

A group of co-ordinated mothers out for a coffee and catch-up would do well to come up with a strategy before making a run for it.

It would probably involve one parent “taking one for the team”, and tying up at least one of you sales people to allow the other mothers to whisk on by, hassle-free.

This sales-pitch martyr should probably give her coffee order to those going on ahead so it’s ready by the time she gets to the table.

You must cop some abuse. If there is one sort of person you don’t want to mess with, it’s a mother on a mission with a pram.

What’s really sad is that these salesman guerrilla tactics are tainting the tradition of casual conversations with well-meaning strangers.

There are still people out there, generally doting grandmas whose grandchildren live out of town, who like to peer into a pram for a glimpse of gorgeous.

Nowadays mothers are more cautious about that type of thing as they brace themselves for a pitch about timeshare units or Amway.

Perhaps it hasn’t come to that level yet. Surely it’s still safe to ask how old someone’s baby is?

Just don’t try to sell them something afterwards.

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