Your baby might be real cute, but I don’t wanna hold it. It’s not personal.
When I got a new car, I didn’t ask people if they wanted to drive it. When I got my wife, I didn’t ask people if they wanted to date her. The car and the wife are mine. And your car and your wife are yours.
If a friend asked me to drive his new car, I’d say, “No. What if I crash and destroy the thing? Worse, what if I fall in love with it?”
If a friend asked me to date his wife—well, I’d say he was an idiot.
Getting back to where I began—I don’t want to hold anyone’s newborn baby.
“It’s OK,” the mother always says. “You won’t drop her.”
“But I just don’t wanna hold her,” I say. “Why do you want me to hold her?”
Why do they want us to hold their kids? Are they tired of holding the little guys? Maybe they want a break? If I’m going to get any joy out of holding a kid, it’s going to be my own.
“But don’t you just wanna love them?” my wife asked when I told her I didn’t want to hold her friend’s new twins. “They’re so cute.”
“No, I don’t just wanna love them,” I said. “If you saw some stranger you thought was cute, would you just walk up to him and cuddle him? I don’t know those babies. I don’t even know the parents all that well.”
Just before my son was born, a family friend asked if I wanted to hold her newborn baby—for practice.
“No thanks,” I said.
“But don’t you wanna know what it’s like to hold your baby?”
“Yeah, I do,” I said. “But that’s not my baby, that’s yours.”
“Here,” she insisted, “take him.” And she forced her baby into my arms.
Before she could let go, I put my hands behind my back.
“I’m not gonna take it,” I said. “Please don’t make me.”
“But you won’t drop him,” she said.
“If you try to give me that thing, I’m gonna drop it. So don’t give it to me.”
“But you won’t drop him, I promise.”
“No,” I said, “I’m telling you, I will drop it if you give it to me, I promise. I’ll do it on purpose.”
For some odd reason, she decided not to be my friend anymore. And when my son was born, she wouldn’t hold him—even at my wife’s request, which was fine with me. My wife, on the other hand, was worried.
“Why doesn’t she wanna hold him?”
“Why do you want her to hold him?” I asked. “What if she drops him? Worse, what if she wants to keep him?”
About two years later, the same lady had another kid. She was so thrilled about it that she even approached me with a friendly smile and asked if I wanted to hold her.
“You wanna feel what a baby girl feels like in your arms?”
I took the baby into my arms. I knew I wouldn’t drop her—holding my son so many times had given me the confidence. That’s when it happened. I fell in love with the little darling and I wanted to keep her.
So my wife and I tried to have another kid, only we found we were unable to do so. Maybe it was karma after I’d refused to hold so many babies for so long. Or maybe it was meant to be because now I wouldn’t have to share the love I have for my son. Maybe it was just basic physiology.
Today, I have no real problem holding other people’s babies, though I don’t ask to do so. I also have no problem with the reverse. For example: The other day, I had no problem asking the neighbor if he wanted to hold my groceries. I asked him to hold them from the trunk of my car to the house.
“Your food might look real good,” he said, “but I don’t wanna hold it.”
This story originally appeared in The Acorn Newspapers of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, CA, in October 2009. You can find it and other stories like it from Michael Picarella in his book, “Everything Ever After (Confessions of a Family Man),” and at MichaelPicarellaColumn.com.