Friday, April 27, 2007

What Do You Do With That?

So this has been on my mind a bit recently.

On weekends, although not as regularly as I’d like, I drive out the suburbs to play racquetball with a buddy of mine. He’s the oldest of five kids and I’ve been good friends with the entire family for years now.

After our match two weeks ago one of his younger brothers, Craig, stopped by with his wife, Gretchen, and 6 week old son, Connor Scott. I’ve known Gretchen for close to 10 years now since Craig and her started dating in college. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months. As soon as she saw me she came over and gave me a hug. She was carrying Connor, so she turned to the side so the baby was facing me and introduced me to Connor.

I.... froze. What am I supposed to do now?

I’m 35 years old and I very honestly don’t have a clue. The only close friend I have, another of the brothers, that has young kids lives in Ohio. I have never, ever been around children. I have cousins, who I can’t even name, that I’m vaguely aware have children. Or at least I assume they do. I haven’t seen any of them for a decade or more. With maybe one or two exceptions the only time I’ve had any interaction with kids of any age was when I was that age. My brother is three years younger than me and I have no recollection of playing with him until I was 7 or 8 years old.

A baby? What do you do with one of those? My life experience with them is that they are smelly, loud things in the back of the plane.

The only time I can recall playing with a child in my adult life was about 4 years ago. I went to a back yard barbeque with my girlfriend at the time. Someone there had a girl who I think was about 6 years old at the time. It was the Dog Days of summer so we were tossing a ball around, playing with the garden hose and squirt guns. It was so out of character that afterwards my girlfriend made mention of it. People there were surprised that I was “so good with kids.”

My friend in Ohio had his twins after that incident. I was at my racquetball partner's house again for a family and friend cook out. I think it was the twins coming out party. Gretchen, who was holding one of them, asked if I wanted to hold him.

Unlike two weeks ago I didn’t freeze. I gave quick, “No!” which came out way more tersely than I had wanted. You might as well ask me to hold a 5000 year old Ming Vase filled with kryptonite!

I mean, how are you supposed to hold one? Do they break?

As I said, this has been on my mind the last couple of weeks. I think I may have insulted Gretchen which I certainly did not want to do. I told a lunch friend the story from two weeks ago and he said I was supposed to make “googilly noises.” To the best of my knowledge I don’t do googilly noises. And that is really it more than anything else. I have no knowledge and no experience with kids. There are almost no breeders in my group of friends. Those that do have kids don’t live anywhere near me or don’t have their kids with them.

I feel like I’m really missing out on something. There is a hole in my life experience.


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