I certainly wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with my point of view on this post, but I have mentioned before that infants really aren’t my thing and I figured that statement could use a little fleshing out. I’ve done some research and broadly speaking it seems like you can get away with defining an infant as being anywhere between 0 and 24 months old and that is the age range that this post will address
Before I get myself into a world of hurt for saying horrible things about my kids, I’m going to preface all of this with the following. I love them both very much and have loved them very much since they were born, and before they were born, I loved the idea of them! In this post I am simply making some comparisons that I feel are apt, although possibly a little callous. For the overly sentimental, please look away at this point.
More Amazing Than…Everything
From birth until about six hours of age, your child(ren) are the bomb. They are nothing but absolutely amazing. There is not a single aspect of their existence that doesn’t take your breath away. The name of this phase is the “More Amazing Than…Everything” phase of infancy, but would more aptly be named the “Mommy and Papa Don’t Know Any Better Yet” phase. At this stage of infancy, my advice to you is to enjoy this feeling because it won’t last and it is a result of elevated hormone levels and your body playing some really malicious tricks on you for keeping it up for the last two to four days.
Better Than a Rock Garden
This is the rating I gave my kids from about six hours old until about two months of age. The primary benefits of this stage were that they were warm and smelled nice (sometimes). On the down side, they confused the hell out of me. I felt like I pretty much never knew what they wanted. My children had little to no empathy for me and my situation. I remember having a very rudimentary concept of personal dignity based on simple things like not letting people urinate, defecate or vomit on me. It was during this phase of infancy that I was robbed of this basic concept of personal dignity.
More Impressive Than a Pumpkin Patch
This is the designation that I awarded my twins from the time that they were two months old until about three months of age. One day our kids were having a nap which gave us a small break from our baby stand duties. We were startled by a horrible scream from our daughter. We went in to find her hand firmly latched on to her cheek with her nails digging into her soft newborn skin. She was not fully aware of how these appendages of hers worked, and one of them had attacked her. The pain and the resulting stress of her predicament was causing her hand to tense up even more. It was a vicious and self perpetuating attack carried out by herself, and she didn’t realize it. It was genuinely interesting for me to see and realize exactly how unaware my children were of their bodies and how utterly hopeless they were at controlling themselves.
What made my kids graduate to being more impressive than a pumpkin patch was their understanding that they were attached to their body. To be clear, at three months of age they still couldn’t control their bodies any better than (to steal from Hunter S. Thompson) “the village drunkard in some early Irish novel“, but they had clearly started to develop a concept of “self” and that is more than I can say for pumpkins.
Cooler Than a Cat, Although Just as Indifferent
The transition to this stage began at about three months of age and was marked by intentional smiles. We had seen smiles prior to this stage, but they were usually associated with the children relieving their bodily functions. At three months of age we were able to finally relate to our kids on a different level. We could do things that caused them to smile. We were finally interacting with them on more of a social and human level and it was a truly wonderful feeling, but… there was fine print.
Any interactions designed to illicit laughter or smiles from the children were subject to the following stipulations:
- You must voluntarily surrender your dignity
- You must understand that all attempts at humour are to be evaluated by a being with underdeveloped lower frontal lobes
- Any failure to induce smiling or laughter will be punished by the infant’s choice of crying, screaming, defecation, urination, vomiting or any combination of said punishments
In my experience, most cats seem blissfully unaware of the intricacies of human social interactions. The fact that our children were able to start understanding and acting as players in social interactions made them a lot cooler than cats. Still lacking any real sense of empathy for me or others, however, left my children just as indifferent as the common house cat.
Finally, Better Than a Dog
The key traits of this stage of infancy are:
- Emotional development (empathy)
Now your child has the ability to recognize your mood, navigate over to you and (on a good day) say “Papa’s happy!” and give you a hug. Wow, you’ve made it, right? Yes and no.
At various points along my children’s developmental path, I have been tempted to think that things are going to get easier as various milestones are reached. It’s true that some things have become easier, but it’s also true that there are a constant stream of new challenges to overcome. Overall, although things may not be getting significantly easier, I have noticed that the level of enjoyment that I have gotten from being with my children has increased as they have grown and developed over the last two years. I think that this is why “infants aren’t really my thing”. I derive joy from the development of my kids, and obviously limited age yields limited development so for me, I am becoming increasingly enthralled with them as they grow. What is it about your children that gives you joy and piques your interest?