For The Scintilla Project today, I chose prompt #2, though both of them were quite interesting to contemplate.
2. Write about spending time with a baby or child under the age of two. The challenge: if you’re a parent, do not talk about your own child.
Unpopular confession: I never liked children. Not even when I was one. Actually, especially not when I was one. I always considered most other kids to be somewhat dull and uncivilized. The company of adults was far preferable to me, but of course, as a child, you’re often forced to hang out with other children.
I will say I’m much more tolerant now of (well-behaved) children than I used to be. I even think most of them are rather adorable. And if they’re smart for their age (or even if they just look smart – I do love the look of a little kid in glasses), I might even actually like them.
But when I was 15, I didn’t like children at all and avoided them whenever possible. While she never actually expressed the opinion openly, I know my mother felt the same way. (Which must be where I got that!) She had no interest whatsoever in other peoples’ kids, and when one of her friends with children would visit, her strategy was to get the kid(s) out of the way as soon as possible. If I was at school, this meant sending them to my room to play with my things. If I was at home, it meant they would be foisted on me to watch. Unfortunately, on the afternoon in question, I was unable to quietly sneak out of the house before a friend arrived for a visit with her 18-month old son in tow. I don’t remember the little tyke’s name, only that I was immediately pressed into babysitting service.
Oh, let’s call him Timmy.
“Why don’t you take Timmy upstairs to your room and show him your dollhouse?” my mother said brightly, pasting on her patently fake “I sure do love children!” smile.
Me: “It’s not really a dollhouse that you play with; it’s more like a display…” (I had spent hours building and furnishing the dollhouse and was horrified at the prospect of its being assaulted by clumsy little hands.)
Mom: “Oh, I’m sure he’ll enjoy just looking at it.” (Narrows eyes menacingly.)
Me (getting the signal there will be hell to pay if I don’t get the kid out of the room): “All right, then.” (Heavy sigh.)
At the time, we had a “mod” circular staircase made of stainless steel, and it took what seemed like forever for little Timmy to try to navigate the first step.
Mom: “Oh, for heaven’s sake, just pick him up.”
Me (even more horrified): “Okay, here we go, Timmy.” (Good grief; he’s heavier than he looks!)
When we got to my room, I warned Timmy not to touch as he stood in front of the dollhouse. Surprising me, he listened, stood calmly and made no attempt to reach out. And then started to ask questions that were remarkably astute for someone who had been around less than two summers. “Did you make this?” “Is that the mommy?” “What does that do?” etc.
I answered his questions and found myself oddly pleased at his fascination with the dollhouse I’d labored on for so long. Honestly, now that I looked at him, he really was rather endearing, what with his neatly combed dark hair, flawless porcelain skin and large, liquid eyes. And as he showed no propensity to scream, whine, flail around or break things, I was beginning to think that just maybe kids weren’t quite so bad after all.
And then, even as I was beginning to experience the stirrings of a heretofore dormant maternal instinct…
…without missing a beat in his long line of questions…
…little Timmy took a huge, noisy dump in his diaper.
The odor was instant, overwhelming and foul.
And POP! went my maternal instinct bubble, never to return.