Last week one of my cow-orkers had his wife and daughter meet him at work for lunch. I ran into them in the cafeteria and said hi. His daughter is a little over a year old, and she promptly took her pacifier out of her mouth and handed it to me. He later told me he hadn’t seen her do that before. I joked that she thought I was talking to much and wanted to shut me up.
This is just the latest example of how little kids seem to love me. We have many friends with kids aged 5 or less. Two of them decided at one point that Debbi and I are their friends, but they allow their parents to socialize with us, too. Some other friends Debbi goes to visit every week, and I joined her a few weeks ago. The next week when Debbi was going over, apparently the younger child asked if “Uncle Michael” was coming too. And a few years ago whenever we’d fly back east to visit our families, we’d take a red-eye and I’d crash in late morning (since I can’t really sleep on planes), only to wake up covered in couch cushions courtesy of her nieces and nephew.
I’ve never really wanted kids, but I don’t dislike them (I think I feel compelled to say that because it seems many people perceive that people who don’t want kids also don’t like kids). I sometimes feel a little uneasy around them, like I’m going to say the wrong thing or accidentally hurt one of them. Debbi thinks kids like me because I’m willing to get down on the ground and play with them, or carry them around, or get chased by them. I bet the fact that I rarely fill the roll of the disciplinarian helps, too. (That is, I’m rarely the guy who has to say ‘no’, though I am sometimes the guy who tries to steer them away from things they shouldn’t be getting into.)
None of this really explains how a toddler can take one look at me and decide to share her pacifier with me, though!