I love children. In fact, I’d go so far say to say that no one in the whole wide world could ever love children more than I do. I will jump at any chance to nibble on a baby’s belly, and will stop women to coo over their little ones in the street. Yeah, I’m that girl. At the same time, though, I must say that I do feel a great sense of jealousy when I look at a child. They have so very much, and are aware of so very little. Just once, I’d like to have them sing into a conch shell so I can get their powers for a day and enjoy all the wonderful things they’re too busy drooling to notice.
1. They take great, public joy in their own bodily functions. I was in a grocery store recently, and this adorable little girl of about three was standing in front of me with her mother, waiting in line at the checkout. As the girl rocked back and forth, passing the time that she was forced to stand still (Chinese Water Torture for toddlers), she let out the most concise little toot. It was almost a squeak, it was so small. And a smile like I’ve never known spread across her tiny cheeks as she said, “I farted!” (This was in French, too, so you can only imagine how adorable it was.) She stood there for a moment, giddily soaking in her own perfume as her mother scolded her and demanded an “excuse me.” I felt my heart sink a little as I watched the pure joy get browbeaten off that little girl’s face. How I wish we could all be so comfortable, so cavalier. Alas, only children (and Kat George) will ever know this joy.
2. They are unafraid to ask anything at any time.We see things; we are curious about them. It’s human nature. But as time goes on, we are taught more and more to stifle our own curiosity and not be too demanding of information. We’re supposed to be polite; we’re supposed to be quiet. But children, when they pass something strange or new, will yell out in all earnestness, “MOMMY, WHAT ARE THOSE GIANT TRICYCLES?!” And we want to say, “Well, honey, those are called ‘Segways,’ and they’re like bicycles, but for unimaginable losers.” But of course, we don’t. We tell the child that this question, like every other one they are inclined to scream out at random, is inappropriate.
3. They are placated with food. Nothing conjures in me such a pure, unadulterated feeling of jealousy as when I see a child in a public space being soothed mid-tantrum by a pack of cookies or a soft pretzel. How wonderful, how beautiful, how incredibly worth living life would be if you could just scream and scream and scream, and then someone would just hand you a cupcake to shut you up? My life would be a constant, alternating stream of screaming and eating snack foods. I would become increasingly demanding about precisely which sweets would satiate me, and would accept nothing less than the best: “No, no. If you want me to stop rolling around on the floor and clawing at the hem of your pants, I will accept no less than three (3) Cherry Pop Tarts. And if you dare bring me the unfrosted kind, so help me God….”
4. They tell people exactly how they feel at all times. How many times have we seen a little girl see a little boy come up to her, kick a puff of sand in his face, and shoo him with an “I don’t like you. You smell.”? Thousands. Cold dismissals are what little kids do. No child will ever pretend they’re into you when they’re not. (Unless, of course, you have a bag of Skittles and they know it, but who could blame them?) How many tender hearts would be saved if we could, from the beginning, just tell each other that we are so not into it because, well, you’re gross and I don’t want to be around you? So many. We convince ourselves that these nuanced little morsels of affection or interest mean so much more than they do when really an “I want to touch you while you’re naked please” would suffice. But noooo, that would make you a bad, bad person. Children are so lucky.
5. Their celebrations are so uncomplicated. Parties now, at our age, can’t happen without at least one person ending up crying in the corner, a couple breaking up, and vomit on the classier of your Ikea rugs. For children, parties are simply a pizza, some cake, and a piece of grass to run around on. In fact, I find few things more gluttonous than people who spend absurd amounts of money on elaborate children’s parties (which are inevitably more about the adults, anyway). Why would anyone want to ruin a time when the kids are just happy to get hopped up on Mountain Dew (or Surge, before we were all too aware of its effect on sperm count) and run around in circles until they pass out? That is a perfect time, and I want it back. Don’t take it away from them.
I want to run back to that time when all of these things were completely normal, completely acceptable — even expected of me. I want to make awkward body noises proudly, pin the tail on the donkey completely sober and have my friends still want to come to the party, and ask that woman why her lip liner is jet black when her lipstick is icy pink. I think we all deserve such happiness.