Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Don't Hate Your Baby

I just read this article from Dear Prudence. Let me just say that I really love advice columns because sometimes the advice is spot on, and it makes me feel a little better knowing that someone has come to the same conclusions as me without me interacting with them in any way. I like that the letter writers propose their stand with mild to extreme vagueness, so you really could argue either way on their topic (...most of the time). In other words, one could really think deeply on a given situation for 5-20 minutes without the messiness of actually solving anything. My favorite columns have always been Amy Alkon, Dear Prudence, and Carolyn Hax, although I'm sure there are others out there that are equally good. I would have really enjoyed Love Line had I known about it when it was on, but Adam Carolla's current iTunes podcast provides a worthy surrogate.

Anyway, the article was about holding babies, and the reader expressed her uneasiness for holding her friend's new baby when asked. Personally, it has taken me all the way up until this year to be remotely comfortable holding a baby, so I empathize with the letter writer. Prudence takes a stand and says that she could either pretend to be sick (outright lying), telling the truth (which could backfire), or just holding the thing (and enjoying "no better smell" than a baby's neck).

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I'll just say that my track record of holding and handling small things or important things is about a D+. I obliged my high school friend's request to hold her baby rabbit, which broke its foot after it jumped out of my arms. I've also broken someone's calculator, a baby bird's wing, and have dropped a cat that didn't land on its feet (in each case, everything turned out ok). I would 1000 times worse if it was someone's kid.

The other issue is I think that new parents (and sometimes people who acquire new shiny, expensive things), want to impress me with their child (or thing). My fear is that they are judging me judging them in this big judgy circle, while I'm trying to enjoy what they are showing me.* It's entirely inorganic.

Ideally, I would prefer to be the one with such interest that I ASK for a ride in your new car, or hold your baby, or use your expensive equipment. Then I would be so enthralled with the _______, I wouldn't be aware of anyone's approval. Instead, I'm being hyperviliglent because I'm thinking about that baby rabbit, and my expression of "don't hurt this thing" can easily be misconstrued to "she doesn't like my baby."

I just wish that people realize that there are people who like babies, and those who don't, just like there are those who like tea, and those who like coffee. It's just a preference, and believe me, your baby is totally adorable.

*This doesn't apply to parents who are in danger, like fighting wolves for example. Instincts to pick up a baby and run to safety kick in immediately, regardless of past experiences.