By: Shannon Ralph
I was hanging out with some friends yesterday afternoon and we somehow got on the topic of working in a daycare. The consensus between the three of us was pretty much that there would be no way in hell we could work in a daycare. I have great respect for the people who can lovingly, and with utter devotion, care for other people’s children all day every day. As for me, I just don’t have it within me. There are numerous reasons I could never be a daycare worker. I won’t get into the details, but they all boil down to one overriding theme: As a general rule, I do not like other people’s children.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a child hater. I like my own children. And as far as other people’s children go, my friends’ children are probably some of the best I’ve ever met. They’re cute and funny and sweet and downright adorable. And they are quite well-behaved, which I appreciate in children. But would I want to spend all day every day with them? Eh…not so much. Of course, I love for my friends’ children to come over and play because I get to hang out with their mommies and have actual adult conversations. And their children entertain my own children, which makes me happy. When my children are happy, I am happy. Because everything revolves around my kids, you know?
Other people’s children never seem to be as fascinating as my own. I think all parents probably experience this. At least, I hope all parents experience this and I am not just some monstrous aberration. I mean, there are times when my brain is screaming, Will you please just shut the hell up! as my oldest son tells his fourteenth in a long series of nonsensical and non-humorous jokes. But for the most part, even when he is making no sense whatsoever, I am drawn to him. As a general rule, I could sit and listen to him weaving preposterous tales all day long. And I do.
And though I have declared in no uncertain terms that Polly Pockets are a work of the devil, I really don’t mind sitting and playing with them when my daughter looks up at me with big blue eyes and begs me to play. She has this crazy sparkle in her eye —part mischievous, part joyous, part sadistic— and this gorgeous sideways grin when she tells me, “Momma, quit being silly. Polly isn’t Russian!” (To my daughter’s chagrin, I’ve discovered that accents liven up the game a bit and keep Polly from being the mind-numbing, clothes-hoarding floozy I imagine her to be.) I could watch my little girl grin like that all day.
Or when my youngest son comes to me proudly holding a piece of paper that he has painstakingly filled with the names of all of the Mario characters he has copied off his Wii game case. If it were anyone else’s child, I would think, Big deal. He’s five years old. He should be able to write letters. And besides…that N is backwards. However, he is MY son and I am overcome with pride. I think he is preposterously brilliant. I could sit and watch him copy letters until the sun sets, imagining his future as a Pulitzer prize-winning writer.
My own children fascinate me. Every facial expression. Every inch of pasty white skin. Every newly acquired skill. I find them completely captivating. I am totally enchanted by them. I adore my children.
Your children are just okay.
Does that make me a bad person?