There are two ways one can react to a new baby. Either you are eager to hold it or you will avoid it at any cost. As we prepare for the move to Philly, my wife and I travelled to her new office to visit the co-workers there. In a random sampling of 15 people most of whom were women, a majority eagerly awaited their turn to hold the baby. The women were visibly excited often emitting a mild shriek of sheer joy at the thought of holding Heidi. The men on the other hand avoided her in any way, shape, or form. Babies to women are like crack; to men they are a grenade and the pin has been pulled. In most cases when offered to hold the baby the men backed away like she was a cornered raccoon. The thing that strikes me as funny about this is that these are guys who have kids. They know HOW to hold a baby but they just don’t WANT to hold a baby. I guess partially it is because they don’t want to be the one that makes the baby cry or accidently drop her in front of witnesses. When it is your kid it seems to not matter because hey, it’s your kid and if you drop him and later in life they fail algebra then it’s on you.
When it came to the women holding the baby or at least making some kind of contact with the baby it didn’t matter if they had kids, were thinking of one day having kids, or have just ever seen a kid. There was definitely no holding back for the women in the office. When I used to work in a high school and people would bring their new babies in while they were on maternity leave word would spread like wildfire. You would hear on the way to the lunchroom “Did you hear so and so’s baby is here? I’ve got to get down there and get my turn holding her!” As a single guy at the time I didn’t understand why women would sacrifice their paltry 20 minutes of lunch time just to hold a baby. Of course, I was more interested in loading up on carbs than baby crack but then I see guys now and I still see the same reaction.
As men, we acknowledge that YES, it is a baby and we say something like “She’s cute” and immediately slink way like she is the soup Nazi. We seem to think she’s cute from a distance but the instant you hand her over to us, our internal hot potato clock kicks in. Babies have a tendency to be ticking time bombs in that they will at some point be emitting something foul in your general direction. Maybe as a stay at home dad I will change this perception. The fact is, babies are only babies for a short time and there is no other substitute for holding one. I hope that when my kids are grown I jump at the chance to hold anyone’s baby. So next time a baby is thrown your way guys jump right in there. You never know, you could become addicted.