Making faces at babies

I have a question. Why am I just plain silly over baby dogs, deer, quail, birds, anything but human babies? When I see baby animals, I hear myself talking in that high silly voice and melting in the way that other women melt at the sight of a human baby. But when I see a baby, I don’t know how to act. Aren’t they the same thing? So what if human babies have two legs and no fur? They’re as small and cute as any puppy. And yet, I don’t react the same way.

Last week, I was sitting in a restaurant in Missoula, Montana–Ruby’s Cafe, great place–watching this little guy about a year and a half old a couple booths over. Unlike the crazed noisemakers that can spoil the eating experience for some of us, this baby in his blue and white striped onesie was quiet and charming. He was a busy kid, climbing around on the table, playing with the silverware while his parents basically ignored him. One time when I looked up, he had a plastic tub of creamer in each hand. But he was quiet about it.

I watched an older man approach him. The man made faces and waved at the baby as the child grinned. They interacted for several minutes before the man moved on and I went back to my book, thinking why can’t I do that? Is it because I have no experience with babies? Am I protecting my heart from the pain of knowing I never will have them while I can have all the dogs I want?

What do you think? How are you around other people’s babies? 

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7 thoughts on “Making faces at babies

  1. Excellent choice of topic and so relevant.

    Years ago before I even thought of having children I didn't like it when people brought babies into the office and it was almost compulsory to hold them and coo over them. I still don't like this.

    When we were fostering and I was happy with that as “a family” friend and relations had babies. I was happy to chat to the new mums and hold the babies and as they grew, to chat with and interact with the children. Never took to doing it with babies or children I didn't know, as in the situation you were in, in the restaurant.

    Now we have no foster kids and no birth kids and know there never will be any, I have made myself scarce on some of the occasions babies were coming into the office. When they come in and I manage to stay, I usually offer to make the parent a drink to busy myself. I have not been asked to hold the baby (thankfully) and make sure I give off vibes of “being busy”, not making eye contact and similar.

    I rarely now interact with friends children (in fact I rarely see them as we don't go to the family get togethers any more) and my husband's nephews (cos they don't feel like they are my nephews) we rarely see. I try to make a little effort to talk to them.

    But, oh my, do I baby, child and family watch. I do it big time. A lot.

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  2. I agree this is a really good topic.
    Wherever we go there are people with babies and someone cooing and gushing over them, I quickly look away to ensure that I don't start to become teary and a end up with a lump in my throat as I too always think that will never be me (with the baby). I am currently visiting my sister and her family in another state I was with my 4 year old nephew at the mall taking him to the restroom. We were washing our hands when a mother with a baby entered the restroom and asked if I would watch the baby whilst she used the restroom herself, I really wanted to say no but I always try to be polite and helpful, I said yes and for the next few minutes felt awkward as I with my nephew, tried to chat to the very cute baby and remember thinking that I felt very conscious that I had no idea how to interact with the baby. It never feels natural. The babies mother returned after a few minutes and thanked me profusely, I said it was no trouble but in my heart it really was. My nephew and I went on our way and I tried to quickly think of something to look and shake off that upset feeling.

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  3. Hi Cheryl,
    What an experience. Somehow people assume we're all moms and all comfortable with babies. The fact that you had a four-year-old with you probably made her think you were his mother. And I'm imagining it's hard to use the restroom and take care of a baby at the same time. So there you were, forced into a situation that you would normally avoid. I'm sure it was hard, but you did it. Maybe next time it will be easier. You might not be a mother, but you are a good auntie, so be proud of yourself.

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  4. Hello Sue,
    Thank you for your lovely reply.
    Yes you are absolutely right I remember I did think that at the time that it was hard for the baby's mother to use the restroom and she was a lovely lady!
    I am fortunate that I can purchase additional vacation leave in my job and this enables me to spend time with my niece 6, two nephews 4 and 14 each year and.. Milo and Patch their dogs who I also love to spoil! My sister and her husband are always telling me to move back!
    As I sit enjoying morning tea out on their deck this sunny dry season Darwin morning, I can hear the two little ones having another regular disagreement loudly over their playstation game and my sister trying to make peace between them.
    At this moment thinking of home and my quiet cozy apartment I think I will be just fine heading home tomorrow until next time xx

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  5. I LOOOOVE MAKING FUNNY FACES AND SNUGGLING WITH BABIES & LITTLE KIDS. I could sit there all day, and do that. It's one of the biggest pleasures in life. I react the same way to puppies. It occurred to me though recently that you can only do that with kids for the first say 3 years. They grow up so fast even if you're their parent. That actually made it easier to think I'll never have one. It's not like you get this fun, little person for life.

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