Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Smashing Red Strollers

I took the babies out today, to give David some time to chill and rest. Nika stayed home and listened to her Frog and Toad CD.

The younger your babies, I've discovered, the nicer people seem to become toward you, as though you have vicarious become irresistably cute and delicious. And when you have a luscious toddler boy with long hair, eyelashes to match and a precious infant little girl strapped side by side in a smashing new red double stroller, people are so helpful and kind, there's no end to the good things it's possible to imagine. Even world peace.

Yes, I received more help today than ever before. Women and men ran to open double doors; I never had to wait a second for assistance, it was as though help dropped straught from heaven traveling at angelic lightspeed. The cashier forgot to charge me for my lip gloss and gave it to me for free, simply because I told him it would make my day. "That's all you needed to say," he smiled. A few moments later, the same gentlemen leapt to hold open the doors, after the lip gloss set up the store alarm. Apparently its bar code apparently didn't know proper ettiquet toward a woman with adorable his and hers babies nestled in a red double stroller.

In the parking lot, a middle-aged woman noticed me struggling to collapse the damn double red stroller without smashing it, and finished the job for me, as though she were assisting Ghandi with his heaviest luggage. This nice person even loading the dainty bohemoth stroller into the trunk of my Prius. I thanked her profusely, and she acted like it was no big deal.

On days like this it's genuinely easy to imagine a beautiful world full of peaceful communities with lots of chubby babies every spring and plenty of "aunties" and "grandpas" to provide the necessary hands to keep parents sane, so that they do not kill one another or start a war with the neighboring tribe at work or abroad.

So why don't I get this same kind of help when I travel with my older child and the big baby, which is really a more daunting challenge in many respects? Why are older children more likely to inspire annoyance, whereas teeny babies inspire wonder and altruistic goodness?

No wonder we all want to go back to being babies sometimes.

What might it take to see each human treasure for the precious miracle she is?


Amy said...

Great question, Jemila. Now that all my kids are out of the baby and toddler stages, I have noticed a significant drop in "niceties" when I take them out with me. Yes, I understand that it's annoying for store clerks to pick up after my kids as they've pulled off all the items place right at their hight at the checkout isle, but come on...what's a mom to do when she's trying to manage three kids and paying the cashier all at once, especially when toys and candy have been placed right there for them to grab!

Having experience this myself, I try to be very encouraging and helpful to others in similar circumstances. Maybe that's one little way each of us can contribute.

Jemila Monroe said...

Amy, I appreciate your approach to other parents. Do you think it might partly be the descrepancy between our control and our chidren's maturity, combined with the outgrowing of the innocent chubby baby look that makes children come across as more aggravating than endearing when they act their age?

Kimberly said...

Hey Jemila--I wonder if its not so much your kids ages but the fact that we tend to not "see" what we don't relate to. Most people (especially guys) relate to a young, pretty woman in need. When I was younger, people stopped to help me out quite a bit, but now I have a gorgeous 17 year old daughter and pretty much get ignored in that area! Still the other day a guy held the door for me (I was by myself!), but let it close on the elderly woman behind me. This brings me to two thoughts--dealing with my own aging process and what that means, and also that the culture generally notices what it wants to notice. The elderly and like you said, moms with kids who are past the "adorable baby" stage tend to get passed over. I think one of the most honorable (and needed) things we can teach our kids is to "notice" those who the culture passes over.

Jemila Monroe said...

Kimberly, those are sad, but true reflections. I like what you pointed out about teaching our kids to notice those who are culture passes over. That's very Jesus.

LietoFine said...

Hi Jemila, I'm Cristi. I've got a 1 year old and I still get quite a bit of help and niceness. Although in exchange for people being helpful and nice I have to put up with people invading my (and my son's) space, poking, patting, trying to hold, etc. My friends and I have discussed that maybe it's an attempt to steal some of that innocent feeling.

Sensuous Wife said...

What an interesting thing to consider. Thanks for sharing your observations, Jemila. I noticed random people that I encountered on shopping trips being kind to me whenever my child was flirting with them. Babies who smile and coo and talk jabberwocky to passersby make those random grownups melt. The conversation or personal transaction started long before I the mother became involved in the conversation. This used to happen at restaurants when my DC would wordlessly converse with other diners and then they would talk to me "your baby is so cute" etc. Quite often I missed the opening line of the conversation between my child and these people because I was engrossed in a conversation with my husband, and my child's opening line was nonverbal.

Now my baby is nearly as tall as I am so when I'm standing in the checkout line of a grocery store, and a baby shoots me an incandescent grin from his perch in the grocery cart, I melt. For 3 seconds I am transported to the memories sounds and smells and sensations of holding my baby and it's a HUGE emotional rush.

If I'm in the same grocery checkout line and my thoughts are interrupted by the screetch of a tantrum, I don't get all warm and fuzzy feelings inside. I usually look for a way to encourage the mom by catching her eye and murmuring, "you go girl. stay strong. respect is non-negotiable." or something like that. and then I feel all HUGELY grateful that my DC has pretty much outgrown the tantrum stage. As much as anybody does anyway. ;P

Long post to say this, the people we encounter as mothers are often already having a nonverbal conversation with our toddlers or babies long before they have a verbal conversation with us. Children at an older stage of development are less likely to nonverbally flirt. Therefore there are less conversations our children start that we become a part of.