I’ve never been what I would consider a baby person. I’ve always appreciated the children of my family and friends, but when I see a baby on the street the general reaction is “ah, that is a person who is new. I’m happy I’m not responsible for them.” Being seated in close proximity to an unknown baby in a public place is less desirable to me than not having that baby there.
None of this has changed now that I have a child of my own. I love him and I think he’s a miracle genius baby and I expect exactly no one else to feel that way about him. So when I’m walking down the street with him strapped to my chest and people smile at the lump on me, I’m always confused. It’s summer and it’s hot and we’re usually walking so he can get a nap in while we get some fresh air, meaning he’s covered up. They’re smiling at what could easily be a pile of laundry on my chest. Or he’s in the stroller, canopy closed up to let him sleep and block the sun. They smile at the stroller. I could just as easily be the lady from Speed pushing that stroller full of cans but they smile.
There are definitely reasons to smile at my son. If he’s awake he’ll make eye contact with you and try to read your face. If you smile at him he’ll pause, plaster a cheesy grin across his chubby cheeks and look away like he’s embarrassed. It’s excruciatingly adorable. But he is not visible when these people are smiling.
Look, I’m not complaining. Would I prefer a world where people stumble blindly down the sidewalk, so wrapped up in their own problems that they can’t recognize an innocent little baby in their midst? Of course not. But I have a hard time believing these people see a baby and think “oh, what potential! What innocence! To inhabit the mind of a child again, free of all prejudice and worry!” I find that a little psychotic. I smile at puppies. I smile at toddlers and babies sometimes, but that’s because I can see them and they’re doing something cute. I guess I’m confused because these people seem to be smiling at the idea of a baby. It’s like if I were walking down the street and I just overheard someone say the word “sunset” and I smiled, because sunsets are pretty. That’s weird, right? I’m concerned they’re smiling because they see a dad wearing a baby, not a mom, and we’re so starved for male exhibitions of love that we have to smile at men doing literally the most basic of human functions.
Maybe I’m overthinking this.
Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.