We spent Thanksgiving with my sister’s boyfriend’s family. Offered up as a selling point for the whole arrangement was “Then you’ll get to hang out with Zoe!” 

Zoe is not a famous rock star from Sweden, as one might reasonably think from this statement. Zoe is a baby. My family as a whole likes babies but I’m not sure any of us like them enough to justify this being the first thing on my sister’s list. My dad is a salesman but it doesn’t appear that one of us has been paying attention to the concept of “leading with what the customer wants.” First on the list should have been “Then you won’t have to clean the house or host in any way, Mom” and “Then you won’t have to cook most of the meal, Dad” and “If you do this for me I’ll buy you lots of shiny presents, M.” 

We didn’t need convincing, we wanted to go, we like K’s bf and his family, we all had a good time, etc. But I should have held out longer, is what I’m saying. I need new socks if nothing else. Socks aren’t that expensive. I bet I could’ve gotten some socks.

But this isn’t about that. This is about babies and how people always seem vaguely surprised when I like them and they like me. Maybe because I’m not the most “nurturing” or “maternal” or “warm” or “baby-crazy” or “least likely to ever get bored and drop a baby” person on the planet. Maybe because I write things like this on the internet. Or because I don’t like passive-aggressive, incommunicative, emotionally manipulative, squirmy things. 

I’ve never dropped a baby, ok? Babies are great. They’re warm, like puppies. They feel like you’re holding a heating pad. When they eat their own feet, it’s cute, not the source of cannibalism, infection, and disease. They have fat cheeks that you can poke. You get to make ridiculous faces in public and have people judge you positively instead of negatively. I actually find babies are very direct and honest. As someone who cries in public more often than I would like (that is, more than never), I find their candor and unabashed public sobs refreshing. The last time I cried (in public) (with an unchecked hiccup and gasp) (without bothering to hide in a bathroom) was in 2004 when I saw Million Dollar Baby and my friend still won’t let me forget it. In my defense: have you seen that movie? I never should have been allowed to see that movie.

And when you’re holding the baby, you’re generally excused from being a responsible adult and socializing with the other adults. Children are great for people who hate small talk. (I’ve got the weather and then….I’m out. Literally. I will go outside. Or say snacks like it’s a magic password and disappear and hope you don’t follow me.)

Plus, babies have a way of being the center of attention. And they don’t even appreciate it! It’s totally wasted on them! As the youngest child, I also like being the center of attention. This does not actually contradict the above– most youngest children I know have managed to shirk social responsibilities and retain their fondness for being in the spotlight. Spotlight not generally being the most socially responsible thing, at any rate. 

The only way to game this system and be the center of attention with a baby around– without looking like a total dick, which is key– is to be the center of the baby’s attention

Babies are “hard” and I like to beat them. That sounds terrible. Babies are known for being difficult and I’m competitive and like to win the challenge. Plus, babies are actually easy. They just want to look at things and have someone make repetitive noises at them. The only thing you need to know is they get nervous if you act nervous. They’re like bears. Or tourists. You’re right, I probably wouldn’t survive a bear encounter. Good talk.

I like toddlers too. It’s the 7-10 year olds that I think are monsters and should be avoided at all costs.