Today I spent the afternoon with CR/J and her adorable daughter, and it was funny – we were talking about things related to babies (as there was a baby present) and CR/J said that I was a person whom she could see having a kid on my own [this after I'd noted that this is not something that I want to do by any sort of intention, partly for romantic notions about how babies are "should" come into the world (which I recognize I don't apply to other people aside from myself) and partly for the reason that babies are a hella lotta work for just one person, and I'd rather not do all that work on my own, in spite of the awesomeness of babies - at least not on purpose. As you see, I've made no real "decisions" in the baby-making arena - other than that I don't think I want to pursue - actively - having one all by my lonesome].
At any rate, what was funny about our conversation was the fact that CR/J noted my patience as the thing that would make it ok for me to have a kid on my own (although she’d not think that everybody who is single should consider such a thing, given how hard it all is and everything), and I am pretty much certain that I am a person who lacks patience. But her comment made me think: oh yes, I’m impatient in almost all areas, except for with babies. But then I realized: no, it’s not just with babies – it’s actually also with cats. (Note: I specify “cats” here, and this does not apply to dogs, or to animals generally, although I really like dogs and also animals in general.)
I am impatient with all things but babies and cats, as far as I can tell. And in thinking upon this further this evening, I think that this anomalous patience that I display has to do with the fact that I basically believe and also respect that both cats and babies have their own agendas, which relate to their catness and their babyness, that I can’t control. So the only thing for it is to revel in the catness and babyness. People often talk about babies as being like dogs, and here’s the thing: they are, in terms of toilet-training business. But otherwise, dogs want to be told what to do. They thrive on it. Sure, they’ve got their own personalities and stuff, but basically, they want a leader of the pack. (Let me note for the record here that I really like dogs. This is not an anti-dog screed.) In contrast, babies have their own agenda. And if you try to make a baby like something, or be a certain way, you are likely to be disappointed. Much in the way that it is with a cat.
And then I thought about some other things. You know what babies hate? A person who is nervous around them (a) or a person who is all up in their grill (b). Same with cats. Who do cats like best? People who are chilled out and who let them (the cat) make the decision about whether the relationship is more than an across-the-room affair. Same with babies.
Now to be fair, I have always – like since I was a toddler – loved myself a baby. And always, since like I was a toddler, babies have loved me. Random baby in a grocery store who is having a meltdown? That baby encounters my visage and immediately stops crying. Stranger baby who doesn’t know me and won’t be held by anybody but his parents? That baby will immediately leap into my arms and giggle and chortle until he falls happily asleep. I am a person who, for as long as I have known myself, understands that one of my positive qualities is that I am “good” with babies. And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but kids of all ages and adolescents and young adult types find me enchanting (generally, obviously there are exceptions) as well. And I like them. (Mostly: although I will say that everybody hits a rough patch through about ages 9 through 15 that makes them kind of lame – and I include myself in “everybody” there.)
But I have never – ever - thought that my good with babies, good with kids business had anything to do with patience. And it was totally bizarre to hear myself described as that. Because the reality (I think) is that the reason that I’m good with babies, good with kids, good with cats, actually has little to nothing to do with patience and a hell of a lot more to do with the fact that with babies, kids, and cats I just believe that they have an agenda that I don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of but that, for whatever the reason, I respect.
And then that made me think that the fact that I lack patience in all other areas is that I respect babies – ANY babies - more than I respect full-grown people. And I respect cats more than I respect full-grown people. God, I’m hideous.
Whatever. The good news is that I am a person whom the babies adore, and CR/J’s baby thought that I was delightful and we had a delightful afternoon. She is a very nice baby – a nice person – indeed! And I bought her this silly romper thing on clearance at Target and it will be adorable on her! (I think I might like her better than some other babies I know because I can buy her cute clothes, and thus she serves a cute baby need for me but also a dressing up of the baby need.)
But so apparently, I am a person who is entirely impatient with all adult people, and with most things in my life, but babies (kids, cats) are the exception that prove the rule. Who knew?
And now, since I’ve made you listen to this meditation on patience and babies and cats, let me give you some music as a reward.