Today's topic: "Which do you enjoy more, babies or older kids?"
Ten years ago, I wouldn't even have had to think. Older kids all the way. Babies, as I've mentioned, freaked me out with their myriad inexplicable needs. Plus I thought they were sort of ugly--all red and squinched and flaily, and then all fat and stoned-looking. And sometimes--like on the subway--they stared at me until I started to sweat, like "What does he WANT?"
Now I love staring at babies. I love trying to find their tiny personhood in their eyes, that moment when they start getting all bashful or amazed or amused or just powerfully curious. I think it's so cool. I even sort of like holding babies now, though I prefer the ones without the flimsy necks, like Gerbera daisies with bent stems, their bright, heavy centers lolling to one side. And--dare I admit it?--I even enjoy an endless game of putting the stacking cup on my head, letting it roll off and exclaiming "Uh-oh!" which is apparently the funniest thing on the planet. Now there's an audience that truly appreciates my gifts.
Also, babies are uncomplicated. Weirdly, 20 years ago I would have said the opposite, that who the hell knew what they were crying about when I'd just fed them and changed them and burped them and WHY THE HELL WON'T IT SHUT UP AND WILL I BE DOING THIS UNTIL HIS MOTHER COMES HOME??? But they're kind of ALL need, whereas the older kids keep throwing you curve balls, suddenly horrified by the offer of candy, or mad, sad or manic at times you couldn't predict.
But I really do like the idea of older kids. I just think it would be so cool to hang out with an older kid who thinks I'M cool. Now that idea is on the horizon in my very own home, so I'm getting a little nervous. Will I be cool enough?
I thought about babies vs. older kids today while lounging by a lovely rock infinity pool about 30 minutes east of here, at the home of Mary's brother and his family. Mary and I chatted and soaked in the jacuzzi and basically did our own thing for several hours while Jarrah and Joy whooped it up in the water. What current Jarrah has in common with baby Jarrah is her love of the pool, but no longer am I gripping little hands and slippy little feet and keeping a hawkeye on that swim diaper. Now she's up and down the rock slide, splashing with the pool noodles and beach ball, laughing and amusing HERSELF. That part is both weird and wonderful. When did she get so good at entertaining herself? I don't know, but man, my life has changed a lot in five years.