Other People’s Kids

So we all know we go around coveting our friend’s hair and our cousin’s house and our husband’s ability to eat only refined carbohydrates to no apparent bodily harm, but children too? Aren’t our children perfect beings that we would never change and serve as a vehicle for all that is God and holy and miraculous in our lives? Well, yes. But:

Scene: storytime. Subject: wanton jealousy.

I am jealous of moms with babies who Just Sit There. Wherever There is, I want Anna to once in a awhile Just Sit There. Not run to the nearest dangerous location, not attempt to climb objects, not steal things out of other diaper bags and purses. I want to look at a book and have conversations about Danielle Staub’s memoirs with strangers.

Some mothers I know compare their placid, happy, Just Sitting There babies to Anna, and wonder why she or he doesn’t walk, run, climb, and generally be all over the place at 10 or 11 months. They actually say things like “Look at Anna, why can’t you do that?” to their baby. Trade-offs.

Some moms want their child to be out-going and friendly. Anna runs up to strangers in the bookstore with her arms up, asking them to pick her up. She toddles up to other babies and thoughtfully pokes their cheek. She loves everyone. Especially when they pay attention to her.

Some moms want nothing more than to have a child who goes down for a nap easily. Anna refuses to let me feed her anything with a spoon or fork. Even birthday cake. If I was holding the most delectable morsel of food in the world, she would not let me put it in her mouth. Instead, I must put it in her hand for her to feed herself. I’ve met women who plead with their one year olds to pick up a single finger bite, and must spoon 100% of their baby’s sustenance into their mouth.

Do we get what we deserve in a cosmic circle of gene expressions? Or is every child a particular challenge we happen to receive, as we look wistfully to our left and right, at that baby hanging out in the stroller with not a thing in their hands to occupy them, not even crying. WTF? We think. Why me?