Having a baby must be like having your own little personal concierge. You just pop one out, and boom, your social calendar is full. You’re in the park, you’re going to playdates and most importantly, you have an excuse to play with toys again. I hope kids still play with Transformers. Those were the coolest. When I have a kid, I’m going straight from the hospital to the toy store. I hope I can find the Transformer that changes from a tape recorder into a big blue robot. He was awesome.
Another great thing about babies is that strollers are made with big mountain bike wheels now. Back in the day, parents with strollers had to keep to the sidewalks. Now, people have all-terrain babies. Sure, your baby girl may be cute, but is she Trail Rated?
Before last Saturday, I thought that’s what kids were all about: playdates, new toys, and off-road capability. But then I got to spend some quality time with my two cousins’ five children at a family get-together.
That day, after being exhausted from fifteen minutes of playing with the kids, I escaped to the deck to eat some grub. As I stood there, intent only on devouring a slice of pizza, a tiny blur of a person streaked out of nowhere, tripped on my (stationary!) foot, and splatted down onto the deck. I haven’t been a kid in so long, I had forgotten: children are breathtakingly uncoordinated.
When a child takes a spill, as they are prone to do, there is a Golden Second, a tiny slice of time when the child has not yet made up her mind about whether to quickly get back up, or to just lay there and shriek until…well, I don’t know until when, exactly, but I can empathize that it must be very frustrating to injure yourself when you are too young to properly command the obscenities required to make yourself feel better.
So while Emma was on the ground, deciding whether to shake it off or shriek it off, her older sister Clara pointed at me and said, “Mike tripped Emma!”
Emma slowly turned and looked up at me from the ground, with a look on her face that must have been exactly like the last look that Caesar gave Brutus.
“No, wait,” I said, “I was just standing here eating…”
The rest was drowned out by Emma screaming, “Mike tripped me!”
She got up and ran through the house, wailing, making sure everyone was aware that a child-tripper was on the loose. Watching through the sliding glass door, I saw her running up to each adult and pointing towards me, yelling, “Mike tripped me!”
How do you mount a proper defense when being slandered by a four-year-old? I’ll tell you how: you hide behind the swingset, finish your pizza, and wait for it to blow over.
Two minutes later, she came outside like nothing had happened, sat in a swing, and asked me to push her, all smiles. Just moments earlier, I was Mike the Tripper, scourge of stumbling children everywhere.
Which leads me to the big lesson I took away from that day, which is: kids are a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, but mostly they’re adorably insane.
Later that afternoon, my cousin put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Keep hanging out with us. It’s the best contraception you’ll ever find.”
Truth is, I loved every second of hanging out with my cousins’ children (with the possible exception of the seconds mentioned above). But until I can keep a bonsai tree alive for more than a few months, I think I’ll concentrate on tripping other peoples’ kids.