I Hate Babies

Essay

I AM A COMMUNICATOR. A talker. An over-sharer. It was my major in college (shut up) and after college I got my fix by interviewing B-list television stars (for work) and droning on endlessly to a long list of therapists (for pleasure). Though I couldn’t wait to be a mom and immersed myself in childcare classes and books, I was totally unprepared for one harsh reality: Babies are very poor verbal communicators.

My first son was born with a full head of hair that most people attributed to his Italian heritage. After five solid months of his colic, I suspected that the locks were actually hiding three tiny 6s on his scalp. No amount of car rides or gripe water helped the screaming, and I was at a loss at how to relate to a purple-faced, enraged larvae who had no good answer to my persistent, “What’s wrong baby? What are you feeling? How can mommy help?” The more I talked, the louder he shrieked until we both ended up in tears.

Infants are also hard to dress. Their little arms and legs bend all sorts of crazy ways, not like the stiff, plastic Baby Alive doll I practiced on in my childhood. Compared to a real baby, Baby A was a piece of cake. She didn’t mind if I put her diaper on backwards, or forgot to put socks on her, and I’m sure that woman at ShopRite would never have yelled, "That baby needs a SWEATER!" had I been toting Baby Alive instead of my truly-alive 8-month-old across the parking lot. He does? He never mentioned anything about being chilly.

It's also tough to entertain a mute child under the age of one. A toddler will at least reward you with a few words and a big belly laugh when something is a hit, but an infant offers almost nothing more than the same bewildered stare as you break a sweat trying to elicit a reaction. And a very calm baby, like my second, can be like living with one of those "Miracle Eyes" Jesus paintings-a tiny set of eyes fixed on you as you go about dusting and vacuuming. Following the spawn of Satan that was his older brother, my second son paid the price for his complacent nature by being left in his carseat for unnatural lengths of time. Shunning a bassinet or a crib, we let him sleep in it every night for months until his little caps wouldn’t stay on his increasingly flat skull. Maybe he cared. Who knew?

My sons are 7 and 9 now, and we get along swell. They still cry sometimes but at least they can dress themselves (turns out, they don't LIKE sweaters, ShopRite lady) and have let me know in no uncertain terms that I’m not funny as far as amusement goes. They’re pretty chatty, like me, and we usually talk nonstop. Until they start asking for a baby brother or sister.

It's a conversation killer.

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