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Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I mean when I say I love kids

I am not known for my love of small children. Even as a toddler, I would point to other, slightly younger kids and laugh, shouting, "Baby! Look at the silly baby!" If you ask anyone in my family confidentially they'll say, "Hayley? She hates kids!" This is, of course, a completely unfair assessment of me, but it doesn't matter because my entire life I've been surrounded by people who adore kids. (Sarah loves kids, kids love Sarah. Maggie is magnetically attracted to babies. And every Mary, Susy, and Jill I grew up with or go to church with dote on small children. I have to warm to kids as individuals. It's called social graces, for goodness sake!) So compared to them, I am an ogre of sorts.

Whatever.

I recently started a baby-sitting job for a two-year old girl. It's my job to feed her, entertain her, potty train her, and love on her for a few mornings each month while her mother sleeps. All I can say is that me getting the job is some kind of God thing, considering my only link to this family is that I was close with their niece growing up. They hardly knew me or anything about me but they gave me the job anyway. I think they must have been desperate, but they've been incredibly kind to me and I'm just struck by the queerness of the situation, it must indeed be a God thing, and I can't even begin to imagine what he has in store for this job. 

Peculiarities aside, however, this girl is off the hook. I don't know why I love her so much, I spent the four hours I was with her this morning in perpetual fear that I would do something to put her in a fussy mood, but I also listened in amazement as she rattled off the Pledge of Allegiance and repeated everything I said. (Also, I read about INFPs that they hate to rebuke, and apparently the saying is true: as we think in our hearts so we are - I never used to be afraid of rebuking kids, but I nearly died when I had to put her in time out this morning. Why are we humans so weird, yo?!) 

A few months ago I had my first real encounter with a baby who was not related to me, specifically the eight-month old baby of a lady in our church. She was in the wedding party, however, so she needed someone to stay with him during the ceremony. She passed an adorable, sleeping baby off to me, and he slept on my shoulder for nearly forty minutes. When he woke up he just crinkled his eyes at me, smiled, and started sucking on my necklace. He was incredibly hungry, not to mention groggy, but not once did he fuss, he just smiled. He sat contentedly in my lap until his mom came, but I didn't really want to give him back, I was completely charmed. I mean, even if he hadn't spent the previous forty minutes asleep in my arms, it would be impossible not to love him!

I'm just learning, small children have personalities, too. I used to think kids had less dimensions to their personalities because they just haven't existed as long, they don't care about social norms and have a more shallow understanding of life in general. But I think I was wrong - in not giving them more credit I've been missing out on how fascinating kids are. I get annoyed when adults don't give me enough credit as a teenager, and it's equally wrong for me to assume the same of little kids. God loves people, regardless of age, and He's made us all incredibly complex, and the more I realize that the more I see how amazing He really is!

2 comments:

The Small Scribbler said...

Holy Smokes, child! You can write. I am going to need to stop by from time to time (dictionary in hand) to get some pointers from your work. I'm impressed.

Kate

K-Mac said...

I remember when you told me that story :)

I've always liked kids, so I don't really have room to talk, but I agree with you about giving 'em credit. I always felt diminished as a little kid when people would talk to me as if I were a little kid. Despite that being the fact. ahem.