I always imagined that once I had kids I’d morph smoothly into some sort of calm, Earth Mother-y type. You know the type, right? The sort of mom who always has a story or a song and knows just the right thing to say, both to little ones and their parents. (In retrospect, this should have sent up a warning flag, because since when do I know the right thing to say to anyone?)
I was well on my way pre-baby, actually. I’ve always wanted kids, so I jumped at any opportunity to hang out with my friends with little ones. I was always volunteering to babysit, hanging out with the toddler set at parties, what have you. Back then, it was the easiest thing in the world for me to gauge a toddler’s emotional state and figure out what they needed to be happy.
And then I had my kid. I get my kid. I get his moods, his needs, his sleepy face and his fake cry. I know how long he needs to sit with me when we go to a new place before he’s ready to run in and play with the other kids. I can tell when he’s refusing food because he’s not hungry and when it’s just out of frustration with something else.
But other people’s kids? Forget about it. I feel like I’ve suddenly become one of those people who think kids (while cute and charming) are baffling, inscrutable creatures. You there! Why are you crying? What’s the – oh. Right. That’s just how you react to loud noises. Fine then, maybe you want – no? Okay. Tell you what, I’ll just be in the other room.
It’s like having a kid of my own ruined me for other people’s children. It’s sad, really.