A boy called Fishy
I’m generally not much for children. I don’t plan to ever have any of my own, in spite of being prone to occasional ridiculously intense baby cravings of the sort depicted here:http://www.girlswithslingshots.com/comic/gws447/. Not that I mind kids—unlike many people, I’m almost never bothered by their shrillness or level of activity (even when I can’t keep up with them!), and I’m pretty much appalled whenever someone expects them to behave or think like miniature adults. I do not believe children should be still, quiet, patient, or good at remembering/attending to things. I recall being a child myself far too well for that.
I just don’t understand children very well, although I usually get along with them OK. I’m comfortable with them while they’re still too young to do much talking, and again when they are old enough to sit down and have serious conversations about Life, the Universe, and Everything… but I feel pretty awkward around them in the 10 years in between… in part, I think, because I do remember what it was like to be those ages, and I have no idea how I would communicate with that self now—her thoughts and feelings are in my memory, but no longer make sense to me, like the logic of a dream once you’ve woken up. My mind speaks a completely different language now, and I’ve lost my fluency with the previous one.
All of which is a very roundabout way of getting to the point that, to my surprise, I’ve taken on a part-time job helping care for a four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. [I do a lot of nicknaming, and so this boy gets referred to by innumerable variations on his name, plus my standard cute-kiddie terms (munchkin, pumpkin, etc), and Fishy, on account of his passion for being in the water. I’ll use that one to refer to him in my blog, because I want to protect his and his family’s privacy, and this pseudonym at least says something about his personality.]
A few moments of playing with Fishy, and he’s reaching out for me to hold him. And then he doesn’t want me to put him down. I spend much of the rest of the party with him. “You want to babysit sometime?” his Mommy asks, half-jokingly, “He really likes you.” “I’ll think about it,” I tell her. And I do.