Monday, August 15, 2011

The Year Of the Baby

I know it's just another stage of life, but it is still mind-blowing as to how many acquaintances, friends and relatives have either gotten pregnant or popped one out this year.

Of course, being a self-declared narcissist, I am certain that it is my power of association that is causing this gestation-affliction. No, not in that way. I just mean that clearly people around me are very fertile and I am clearly the common element. And due to the exponential growth of pregnancy announcements around me, I can also only conclude that my powers are growing. I've warned celibate friends to avoid eye contact with me, unless they are hoping for immaculate conception miracles.

That said, I think I am getting better at interacting in expectant circles. I still can't stop the wave of revulsion that washes over my face when unsuspecting strangers ask me if I'm "also hoping to have kids" at some stage. But I am getting better. I've learnt not to call the little scan-splotches tadpoles, thumbnails or worms. Apparently Bean, Lentil, or Pumpkin Seed are permitted. Similarly, I am not allowed to refer to pregnant friends as "preggo" or "knocked up" or "up the duff". I'm not sure why, they all sound like compliments to me.

It's all bravado from me, I know it is. You see... If I make it well known that I don't want details, I've realised that most people don't make any effort to stay in touch. It's sounds callous, and it probably is. But I don't want to hear emotional/soppy stories of how fulfilling/blessed the process is. And if I make my distaste known, then soon-to-be-parents who are soon-to-have-no-life-outside-baby-puke won't expect me to interact with their child when it is here.

And the ones who do have the patience to put up with both me and their kid, are the ones who count. They're the ones who don't expect me to get as excited or enthused as they are about their news. They don't try to convince me how wonderful the expectant period is; or patronise me with bullshit about "how I'll want it, one day" (tilted head, condescending smile). They don't struggle to find other things to talk about, besides their nursery preparations and prenatal classes. They tell me about their day and they don't sugar-coat it.

Yesterday, out of nowhere, I offered to take a 12-year-old for a cycle around the park. It came as much as a surprise to me as it did to her aunt (my friend). I honestly don't think I registered what I was saying until I had finished the sentence. Offering to take responsibility, on my own, for a preteen, who I have literally just met under an hour ago? I did a subtle breath-check on myself.... I couldn't smell any alcohol, I certainly didn't think I'd been drinking on a Sunday on my own... So what possessed me?

I still don't know. But I think it might be the fact that she didn't fit the bill of "little person". I never know how to talk to kids under 10. I genuinely have no idea at what stage of development they are, or should be, at. Can they converse freely? Are they still bemused by combinations of primary colours, can they read? Should they know things about current affairs yet?

And babies scare the crap out of me - if they're not pooping, puking or crying, then they're staring. Always with the staring. How are you supposed to handle that, besides making ga-goo-ga-ga noises in their direction, which appears to be the standard response for even the most intelligent of adults? Ignoring them is virtually impossible, because every other grown-up in the room will be attending to them or trying to get their attention. Babies are conversation suckers.

The difference with the kid yesterday is that she wasn't a baby, or a little person. Rather, she is a precocious preteen. I can relate to that. I was fairly confident that I could talk to her in an adult-manner, without screwing up my face and squealing in a high pitched baby-voice.

Perhaps I should make this a selling point... "Congrats on the birth of your baby! Let's pick this relationship up again in about 13 years or so."

I'll be the estranged Aunt Koekie, the one who teaches them how to swear profusely in at least three languages. Every kid needs one of those, right?


rd said...

I've just figured it out!
I don't like the phrase "up the duff" because it sounds like "up the batty" which is pretty different!

Also, I love you to be our "Aunt Debra Morgan" (in a few years, when you are better with your emotions!)

Anonymous said...

You didn't do too badly a few months ago at communicating with a young lass (age 8 yrs) from Scotland when she was visiting the Lowveld :-) You underestimate your compassionate feelings and maternal skills........
"one day you will understand"!!!!!!
Jouma x

Koekie said...

Jouma - did you just tilt your head as you said that...?