Over the last weeks, as I watched friends interact with Jacob for the first time, I unwittingly discovered one of the unwritten Laws of the Universe: How much you like a woman’s child is directly proportional to how much she likes you.
It’s just like the old saying “Love me, love my dog,” but in reverse … and with a baby instead of a dog. Okay, so maybe it’s not JUST like that saying, but either way, there is an undeniable link between how people feel about your baby and how you feel about them.
If the whole process were an If-Then Statement example in Logic 101, it would go like this: If person “x” befriends baby “y,” then you befriend person “x.” (And, you thought you were just going to read a blog post on babies…)
Because they say small children are a good judge of character and that they prefer pretty faces to those that are less so, letting your baby help choose your friends will likely get you friends that are both kindhearted and beautiful. They’ll also probably play a mean game of peek-a-boo. It’s a win-win.
If you don’t have a baby yet and don’t want to wait nine months to get one and start making friends, don’t despair. They say dogs are also great at determining a person’s character. Just make sure said person doesn’t hide a ham bone in their pocket before meeting Fido, as ham bones tend to corrupt even the most honest of pooches.
Anyway, though a few folks have endeared themselves even further to me over the past weeks because of their rapport with Jacob, I’m certainly not defriending—more wordily and less hiply known in the pre-Facebook world as “deciding not to be friends”—folks who aren’t smitten with my little guy. (Defriend them? No. Question their sanity? Sure.) For that would certainly be the pot calling the kettle black.
Sadly, I’m quite sure I haven't held another baby since I was getting paid for it as a nanny in college. It’s not a conscious choice, really. It’s more like a natural instinct, probably borne out of the fact that I have banana peel hands. When it comes to other people’s kids, I approach them much like a piece of art in a gallery. Like with expensive abstract paintings, I adhere to a “look but don’t touch” policy. Unlike with expensive abstract paintings, I try to avoid craning my neck from side to side and saying things like, “Huh?” or (even worse) “What’s it supposed to BE?”
In the past, I have done my best to compliment other people’s babies honestly—“Beautiful eyes,” “Look at that smile,” “Wow, he has … hands”—but since having J-cub, I have realized that while compliments are nice, watching someone sacrifice their dignity to make airplane noises or silly faces that will make your little one laugh is even better. (In part, because you can make fun of them while they do it.)
Knowing now how nice it is as a mom to see other people playing with my little one, I may start taking a more interactive approach with the miniature people around me. I think I’ll start with learning airplane noises. (From what I recall from my reading of Dale Carnegie, making bombardier sound effects is the first step in “How to Win Friends and Influence People and Babies.”) I doubt I’ll be much good at it at first. Fortunately, Jacob has lots of friends I can learn from.