I have been wild about babies since I wasn’t much older than one. The first time I can remember succumbing to the baby-powder scented, wide-eyed allure of an infant I was 8. Ever since, if you put me within 10 feet of an infant, I have to pluck them from whatever is holding them – people, infant carriers, car seats, cribs, playpens – and nuzzle. I kiss their heads, suck their toes, and engage in a modified Vulcan-mind-lock.
It’s an addiction.
While any child under the age of two will do, I’m especially fond of the 4-5 month old vintages. These small creatures are perfection. They’ve been on the road of life long enough to be able to hold their head up and laugh. They’re also so not so jaded as to fuss about the slavish attentions of someone they’ve never seen in all of their 150 days of existence.
A baby of that vintage is perfectly content to sit on a lap and look adorable for hours at a time. More than just looking adorable, they are – little puff balls of baby fat and smiles earnestly focusing on the fascination of ordinary life. There is no other time in life, other than under the effect of hallucinatory mushrooms, when a balled up sticky note or empty potato chip bag holds the secrets of the universe and must be examined with care.
I come from a long line of baby addicts and now I work with them. No 12-step program for us. We are unabashed in our cootchie-cootchie-coos. We gawk at babies on the street, talk to them in elevators, and rustle them into our laps at any given opportunity.
While it may be true we baby addicts are primarily women, the premier Baby Whisperer is my father. I can routinely charm any baby under the age of 8 months or so, but Dad can have any child under the age of 5 performing at the utmost cutest within a few minutes. He’s the Pied Piper of Little Ones. I’ve seen him convince a complete stranger into dancing at the Bob Evans before the drink orders are filled. At my son’s 6th grade chorus performance, Dad so wound up a toddler in the audience my mother put him in time-out. “Conrad,” she said, “You’re going to get her in trouble.”
A month or so ago, I read the review for the movie Babies. Lord, I was excited.
It’s a movie with almost no dialogue that follows four babies – one each from San Francisco, Tokyo, Namibia, and Mongolia. My inner anthropologist joined forces with my baby addict. 79 minutes of unabashed baby gawking and cultural differences.
I was beginning to despair that the movie would never be shown in my neck of the woods. It did arrive and a fellow addict and I went to see it last night. Besides big screen images of utter cuteness, the movie did a fine job of showing the universal timeline of infant development juxtaposed against differential child rearing practices. For a long time now, I’ve been decrying my need for grandchildren. Well. It’s at fever pitch now.
During the viewing, I was catapulted back in time to my son’s first year of life. I watched those four babies torment a cat, have a tantrum, learn to say mama and struggle to stay awake all the while remembering parts of Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s infanthood that I hadn’t thought about in years.
Not everyone is going to be charmed by this move. Some will be appalled. A larger subsection will be bored, but if you think babies are the pinnacle of perfection you’ll be delighted. The cinematography is spectacular and the scenery is no slouch, but the babies steal the show.