Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh, isn't she cute? I just love the eyes... I'll call you next spring when you can leave the house again.

I can't take Emily anywhere without somebody stopping us to fawn over her. It was the same with Chloe. In fact the younger she was, the more comments we'd get. Our first child still generates oohs and aahs from time to time, but nothing like when she was a drooling, crying food processor that cried lots, slept little and spoke not at all.

But despite all the fawning, the truth is that most people (close family excepted) didn't really want much to do with a baby. They just wanted to ooh and aah, tell you what a perfect little angel you have, and then get on with their lives. And who can blame them. What else are they expected to do? Parents can interact with a baby (albeit in a limited way) because they know the child so well. They know that the Jean Chretien-like smile they see today wasn't there yesterday, and that their child has started having an easier time passing gas. To parents this is all thrilling, to everyone else... not so much. For all of their fawning, I think that most people would give the nutrition label on their box of cereal more of their focus than someone else's baby. And so they should - there's more information to be gleaned from the cereal box.

So why do we fawn over babies so much if we really don't find them that interesting? Well, for one thing, parents expect it. With each word of praise for their child, we're confirming their own virility and the quality of the genes they've passed on. They even thank us for it. "Oh thank you, you're too kind - Yes, George and I do make beautiful babies, don't we." And just think of how many ugly babies you've fawned over. You had no choice. You wouldn't want to offend the parents or their gene pool.

But, of course, there's more to our gushing than this. Babies represent us at our most basic and innocent, and as close to perfect as we get. They are the latest products of the evolutionary process - the newest models, so to speak. And who doesn't want to drool over the newest model? But let's face it, our interest in someone else's baby goes no deeper than our interest in Justin Bieber or Obama's dog. They're cute, and usually well groomed.

This explains the phenomenon of "A Baby Story." For the longest time I couldn't understand what anyone could possibly see in this show. But now I get it. It's cute, at least for some people. And I guess that's as good a reason to tune in as any. And no wonder I didn't get the show. I don't get "People" magazine or "Entertainment Tonight" either. I've never been that interested in celebrities, other people's babies, the latest Justin Bieber, or someone else's dog. Hell, I find it painful talking to people I don't know at a party, because it's usually not worth the investment. I'm probably in the minority, but I'm not alone.

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