About six months ago, something pretty crazy happened in my family–the best baby ever was born to my brother and my sister-in-law. I know everyone feels that way about their nieces and nephews, but in this case it’s true. We can all stop looking.
Obviously, I love the kid like crazy. Therefore, I talk about her and force people to look at pictures from time to time. I try to control myself, honestly. Like I said, though–best baby ever.
I noticed something weird happens when you talk about a baby. Everyone wants to set them up on dates.
I’m sure you’re scratching your head, and I assure you, I agree. It makes no sense. But it’s an uncontrollable urge that apparently affects many. As soon as I mention my super cool adorable niece, people start saying:
“Oh, my son’s a year old, we’ll have to set them up!”
I don’t know you, and I’m sure he’s not good enough.
“She’s in day care? Any little boys got their eye on her?”
No, they can’t sit up unassisted yet.
“Oh, remind them they’re related!”
This was the grossest comment, in reference to my niece and her cousin wacking each other on the arm. I thought it was a cute moment, others thought we needed to turn a hose on the infants.
We’re going to leave the heteronormativity aside for the moment (though it would be nice to switch that up, please) and focus on the bizarre sexualization of kids. Little kids.
I’m not talking about criminal stuff. I’m talking about these weird comments that strike some
unfunny people as the height of comedy. It makes sense, to some degree. The idea of babies as mini adults is kind of amusing, in the way that animals wearing hats is a bit funny. But we all remember that animals in costume is an unnatural thing that shouldn’t extend beyond a photo op. People don’t always remember this when it comes to their kids.
As soon as the girls spring forth from the womb, people tell their fathers that they should be locking them up because they’re pretty (it worked for Rapunzel’s evil witch-mom, right?) or that they shouldn’t let them date. The boys are told that they’ll be heart-breakers. Even weirder is when baby boys are called “tough guys.” Yeah, he just shit his pants and now he’s crying about it. Real tough.
I see this constantly in my work. As a youth worker at Anonymous Youth Center, I often assisted in pre-school. The teacher had to send a note home over the summer, requesting that parents not dress their girls in a “sexy style.” This is what it was called. I’m not joking.
I am not creeped out by a little kid who wants to be naked all the time, or little girls swimming topless at the beach, as there’s not anything for them to hide. But a triangle bikini with a metal ring between the “cups,” tube tops, mini skirts…where the hell did they even buy these things?
Don’t worry, it’s not just the girls. On more than one occasion I have heard a man proudly declare that he doesn’t need a DNA test, he knows that baby boy is his. “Cuz he’s well endowed, y’know?”
Actually sir, I do know. I assisted mom during a diaper change. If that infant ween reminds you of your own, I am amazed that you procreated in the first place.
One mother had the decency to tell her baby’s father, “Do not talk about my son’s package!” Normally I deduct points for use of the term “package,” but I let it go in this case.
Only moments later, though, the baby started fussing when his mother was getting his into his onesie. She assured him that they would be done in a minute. “Don’t worry, papi, almost done, you’re almost dressed, there we go, all sexy.”
Yeah. Parents call their kids sexy. A lot. No one seems to object. Then the kids turn thirteen, talk constantly about dating, and everyone is confused. “You’ll have time for that when you’re older! Why are you in such a rush to act grown?” You dressed her up to go clubbing and tried your hand at matchmaking when she was eight months old. Forgive the children for getting some mixed messages. It’s funny and cute when you do it, but they’re sluts not acting their age when they imitate you? OK…
Childhood is supposed to be fun and carefree, but we all know it generally isn’t. Even if your childhood isn’t filled with abuse, neglect, gang warfare, or domestic violence, being a kid can be stressful. You don’t understand anything. Everyone tells you what to do, and your parents are constantly bringing you places and not telling you until you get there. I remember seeing my little cousin in the hospital for the first time the day he was born. I hadn’t even known my aunt was pregnant. My head kind of exploded.
Kids have enough going on. As much as we romanticize dating when we’re no longer in the scene, we should all take a moment to remember that, for the most part, it sucks. You question your every move and Facebook post, you can’t just talk to someone without wondering where it’s going, and middle aged relatives won’t stop telling you about their friends’ kid who met someone on eHarmony.
We’re not pushing our kids to file their taxes or make appointments at the DMV, so we should probably hold off on dating as well.