In the months leading up to the birth of my daughter, I was filled with anxiety. Which apparently is normal and expected. And most of these anxieties existed in the form of questions. Some commonplace and perfunctory. ("What type of dad will I be?" "What type of person will she be?") And some not so commonplace and perfunctory. ("When should I introduce her to bacon?" "Will I still be able to watch twerk videos in good conscience?")
My most pressing anxiety, however, concerned babies in general. Because I was not a fan of babies. I won't quite say that I hated babies; it's not like they're couched between "Big Sean mixtapes" and "Kappas with tapered ascots" on my list of "Things I'd Expect To Find In Hell." But, well, let me just say this: Have you ever been at work when one of your co-workers brings their new baby? And everyone wants to hold it and tickle it and recite the words Bohemian Rhapsody to it? Except that one co-worker who stays at his desk, gives the baby a head nod and a peace sign, and continues eating his burrito? Well, that one co-worker is me. Except instead of eating a burrito I'd probably just pretend to answer an email. And I feared this baby apathy could possibly extend to my own.
Fortunately, this hasn't been the case. I have more fun just hanging out with her, and doing things like "feeding her Nature's Best sweet potatoes" and "watching House of Cards with her and wondering why she squints every time Kate Mara is on screen" and "preventing her from attempting to eat my beard" than I ever imagined I would or could. I know parents are supposed to believe their babies are the shit. So me saying my daughter's the shit isn't really saying much. But my daughter's the shit.
This love for my daughter, however, hasn't extended to other babies. I still (probably) don't want to hold your baby. I still (probably) don't need to see pictures of your baby. And I still (probably) don't need to meet your baby. Maybe when that baby is 15 and they have an interesting theory on the impetus for the narrative progression of Rob Gordon in High Fidelity we can meet. I'd love to meet your kid then! I'd meet the hell out of your kid! That would be awesome! But I have nothing to say to your 15-month-old, besides "you probably shouldn't eat that magnet."
Unfortunately, possessing a baby daughter does this thing to other people where they generally assume you generally love general babies more than you generally do. Before she was born, people were content to leave me and my infant apathetic self alone to eat phantom burritos and pretend to send emails. Now, however, my life is a perpetual solicitation of baby-related tasks.
Do you want to see pictures of my baby? (Probably not. Unless your baby is pictured doing something unusual for a baby, like driving a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. If you have any pictures your baby driving a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, send them my way. If not, keep them.) Do you want to hold my baby? (Not unless you need to go to the bathroom or make some guacamole or something.) Do you want to watch my baby? (Is your baby on TV and is there a channel I can turn to? Because that's the only way I'd volunteer to watch your baby-ass baby.)
Of course, I don't say any of this. Because everyone is supposed to love babies. Particularly people who have their own babies. So now I hold general babies. Accept pictures of general babies. And even talk to general babies if I happen to be holding them. Me and general babies now have an unspoken arrangement. I'll hold them for 60 to 90 seconds if they pretend to laugh at the faces I'm making at them so no one will get wise to my baby-hatin' ways.
So far its working. The general babies are surprisingly good sports and adept coconspirators. So much so that I'm considering revisiting my stance. Maybe, just maybe I'll volunteer to hold your baby. But only if your baby is clever.