I don’t have kids of my own, but I have my sister’s. I don’t technically have them, I suppose. Like, I don’t feed them and dress them and they don’t live with me. When I say I have them, I mean that I have photographs of them all over the place, and I have pictures that they’ve drawn me stuck to the refrigerator, and I have a stash of amusing anecdotes and warm memories at my disposal to break out when you start boring me with stories of the children in your life.
My sister has three little boys, they’re all super-cute, and very intelligent. I know that everybody says that about their kids, but my sister really does have some of the smartest, cutest kids on the planet (the last one, who is a year old, had a natural Mohawk for most of his little bitty life—how cool is that?). The other two (ages eight and four) are already more intelligent than most adults that I meet (which isn’t saying much, I know). Also, they’re funny as hell.
My sister occasionally sends me emails telling me about the latest incident. For example:
[about the eight-year-old]— On the way home from school today, after I told him he'd have to take a shower tonight: "I'm tired of washing! All this getting clean is a waste of my time!"
[about the four-year-old]— Last week, when I told him he needed to quit trying to incorporate the word "poop" into random sentences all the time: "Hey, it's just my style."
When, exactly, did I lose the upper hand in this whole parenting thing?
There are many more, but I’m not going to sit around telling you all the clever things my nephews say. I can’t stand when people tell me all the “cute” shit their kid is doing. Those stories are terrible and lame and inappropriate. Especially if you do a baby voice when you tell me what the kid said.
I swear to you, if you’re telling me some stupid story about the baby in your life, and you find it highly amusing, I stopped listening about two seconds after you started talking, and the only reason I listened for those two seconds is because I didn’t realize this was going to be a story about your kid (if my sister’s reading this—I don’t mean you. Your stories are great).
So I realize that even though I find the above-mentioned anecdotes pretty cool, maybe you don’t.
One thing I really like about my nephews is that they use grown up talk. “Why would a human do that?” the four-year-old recently asked my mother. “Look at this salad,” the eight-year-old told her, as they visited a salad bar. “This is going to be so nutritious.”
None of us know why they talk like they do. The oldest boy has been saying “actually” for about four years now. The first time he said it, it freaked my sister out. “Actually, Mom, I think that-”
“Hey!” she told him. “You don’t say ‘actually.’ You’re just a little boy.”
Anyway, that was all pretty much a introduction for this sentence: I don’t like kids.
My nephews are excluded, of course, because they’re awesome. What I mean is, I don’t like the rest of them.
They suck. They’re grungy little people with bad vocabulary and worse manners. The majority are selfish, noisy, stinky little creatures with as much sense as a pile of rocks. They’re rude, they’re boring, and they scream…a lot.
They spill things, they break things, they have germs that defy logic—the kind of germs you can only sustain if you’re the type of person that picks up random shit and puts in your mouth (and kids are exactly this type of person).
Children are living proof that ultra-conservative Christians are right about sex being evil. Of course, they think that the only reason you should ever have sex is to procreate, which means that they got shit all mixed up again.
Kids always have some kind of grody nastiness smeared all over their face and hands. I don’t know if you can find this shit on the baby aisle, next to the diapers and powder, but apparently it’s absolutely essential to raising a kid.
I think that children, as a whole, are a pretty rotten idea.
And you know what? Kids love me. I’m like the Pied Piper, but with more bitterness. And I’ll tell you something: chicks dig a guy who gets along with children.
And babies? Shit.
I have never met a baby who wouldn’t smile at me. Let me repeat that: I have never met a baby who wouldn’t smile at me. It doesn’t even matter. When I was working customer service at Circuit City, I encountered gobs of babies each day, and every one of those little womb-fruits smiled at me. I even got some of them to laugh.
Even a woman who doesn’t like kids will think it’s adorable when you have a baby grinning up at you. And you say something sweet after that, the ladies melt.
I’m passing on these tips because I’m happily married now, and don’t need ‘em anymore. Also, I was at the grocery store last night, and there was this baby in front of me, and it was smiling at me.
I should write a post about that baby. I thought. Maybe too specific. Maybe about getting babies to smile. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea, but here we are.
I was at the self-checkout, and there’s only one couple in front of me. They have like three items, not including the baby that’s all strapped into the cart, that spot where you put the eggs and bread so that it doesn’t get crushed.
The baby’s just sitting there looking bored as hell, and her parents are trying to scan a box of crackers. I stand there for about thirty seconds, and then start wondering why I’m still standing there. I look up and see that the couple is still trying to scan the box of crackers. It’s like a team effort, the lady holding one end, the guy apparently working the height and depth of the event.
I glance over, and the baby is staring at me. I nod to her—just a quick upwards nod, like, “‘Sup, there, little baby?”
She bobbled her head a little and kept staring. She was a cute little creature. Big eyes. She was just sitting there being good, which automatically won her points.
The secret to getting a baby to smile at you is this: look skeptical. Don’t exaggerate your features, just look at the baby the same way that you would look at someone who just offered you twenty bucks for no reason. Furrow your brows a bit, maybe chew on the corner of your lip. Then raise one eyebrow—just a little—and tilt your head a bit. This usually gets them. If not, smile a little, and then nod like you’re just getting the joke. Then look skeptical again.
If the baby isn’t smiling, you’ve done something wrong. Start over.
The baby last night, she’s looking at me, and I’m looking at her, and I lift the corner of my mouth in a half-smile, “Yeah, you’re cute, I guess, but I know you’re really just a crying little poop-bomb,” I conveyed with that smile.
That cracked her up. She started grinning real big, then giggled a little. I glanced at her parents—I’m kind of a creepy-lookin’ guy, and parents get all paranoid about their baby smiling at a guy like me unless they’ve been witness to the entire show. They were still screwing around with that box of crackers. I realized that it was a box of baby crackers. The baby girl didn’t really look old enough to be eating crackers just yet, but what do I know.
The guy had taken the box away from the woman and was rubbing it against the metal casing of the scanner. The bar code was nowhere near the red laser reader beam. I don’t know what the guy was doing, but it looked like maybe he was trying to arouse the self-checkout machine.
I looked back at the baby girl, and saw she was watching him as well. She turned back to me with a look on her face like she had just tasted something sour. The mother pushed the cart roughly away so that she could get closer in to help with the crackers.
This meant the baby was a little closer to me. She was smiling again as I shook my head at her parents. “Damn, kid,” I whispered, “I hope you learn how to feed yourself real soon, because with these two in charge, you’re doomed.”
She laughed like hell at that. I don’t believe for a second that she knew what I was saying, but she had great comedic timing, nonetheless.
“I know, right?” I said to her.
“Did you just squeak at me?”
She smiled and squeaked again.
“She really likes you,” a voice said behind me. It was a woman’s voice.
I didn’t turn around. Instead, I rolled my eyes at the baby: This again.
The baby just kept smiling and bobbling her head.
“Happy baby,” I said to the lady behind me without turning.
It was around this time that the self-checkout monitor got bored watching the helpless couple try to buy food for their baby, and stepped up to help them. The dad grabbed the grocery cart and followed the grocery store guy to his kiosk. The baby started crying.
I stepped up and bought my club soda. I waved to the baby as I passed by on my way out. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the woman who had been talking behind me. Mid-twenties, not gorgeous, but pretty. She smiled and waved. I nodded and glanced back at the baby. She was crying again.
I don’t blame her.