Disclaimer: This author has had no kids and does not pretend to have written this after mounds of experience in raising them up.
I had to attend a wedding last month and was introduced to the unlikely fact that there is something about me which attracts kids.
It’s a well-known fact among my acquaintances that I am petrified of kids, I cannot talk their language too well, am not one of those who can invent interesting games out of the blue and definitely have no idea on how to hold a baby right.
Note that when I talk about kids, I am talking of those in the age range – 6 months to 5 years.
Once they cross that stage, I can talk to them and play with them (though I am more at ease with boys than girls, maybe it is do with the fact that boys can be distracted so easily with a game of catch) and I am fine.
But bring a little one to me and ask to me to look after them, I shudder and am ready to bawl for help.Which brings me to the recent trend I have noticed, babies and toddlers seem to find me more and more attractive when they have a choice on who to go to.
I had to literally tear a kid off me since he got it into his head that it was a wonderful game to try and yank my saree off at the wedding. No amount of pleading or threatening convinced him that it was a bad idea and I had to rush with a cousin behind an idol (the wedding was held in a temple) and I think we slightly scandalised a priest who wanted to know what we were doing behind the idol. I don’t think my cousin explaining to him that it would be more scandalous if we left the saree hanging off me made him think better of us.
And then my cousin’s one year old wanted to sit on my lap the entire time and he paid close attention to my hair, at the end of the wedding, my resemblance to Medusa was so uncanny that I am sure people at the temple thought I was one of the demons come to life at the temple.
And thinking about reasons for this, I narrowed down to the one area where I am different from the other adults around these kids, I can’t do baby-talk.
When I hear someone do it, I wince, really really loudly. If I were to translate some of the Tamil phrases here, these would include
“Aww! Little itty-bitty *insert cute/gaggy name/nickname of kid* wanth a litthle footh. Oh, he enjoyth hith foodth, he doth. Yeth, he doth”
And, “Thee, Thee, airplane! Zoom! Thee how it flyth!”
I wonder if this is why kids lisp for the first five years,they haven’t been taught better! And then they meet other kids at school and talk to outsiders and think, “Hang on! They are talking different!” and learn the right way to talk.
Maybe kids have evolved enough now to know the difference between a person who talks to them and doesn’t talk down to them. I am sure when I was a kid and someone spoke to me like that, I would think “Wait a minute. I may be a kid, but do I look stupid to you? Talk sense, man”.
And thinking back, I remember my mum telling me that they were frightened that I was retarded (back then, retarted was not politically incorrect) because I didn’t say more than two phrases in a day for the first five years of my life. I am not surprised, maybe it was because I wasn’t sure if they could understand me. 🙂
Another thing I do is to take these kids around and let them free. Enough with the restraints and the “don’t do that, don’t go there”. I just keep an eye on them and let them explore to their hearts content. How else will they learn anything? I bet these kids think I am softie and that’s why rush to me at times.
I have earned a ghastly reputation as a result with new parents, my mum fixes a beady eye on them when they visit and warns them that I am terrible with kids. “She lets them touch everything, even the computer!”
Maybe I am terrible with kids, but of late, I think I am a hit with them! And that proves my point, talking sensible (instead of the baby talk) and letting kids have fun is the best way to bond with them.
Note that I did not mention the fact that these kids might prefer me because my hair looks tuggable and that I wear enough wierd clothing (compared to my family) that it looks interesting enough to be caught and torn if possible. Simply because I didn’t think they were as important as the others. 😀