Growing pains

There was a time in my life, not so long ago, when I could write about ugly babies and it would bring me much delight. More than it should have. The fact that I’m having a difficult time writing about this leads me to believe I’m growing up. Or something. Let me tell you the story.

I was in Panera the other day with my sister and a coworker. This woman and her unbearably unattractive child sat at the table across from us. I looked at my sister. I looked at the coworker. Neither seemed to be the least bit startled by the little creature. Was I the only bad person in the room? Surely not.

The kid didn’t seem to have any other redeeming qualities, either. It spit and made noises, whined and threw its sandwich at its life giver. I say “its” because I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl.

What I noticed, though, in observing this little one, was how uncomfortable I had become in acknowledging the ugliness of a baby. I felt guilty about it. Really fucking guilty. A couple of years ago, I would’ve snapped a photo, Facebooked it, and made it my wallpaper. Not this time.

I made a decision to not say anything about the ugly baby. But the longer I ate my soup and mulled on it, the more rebellion set in and the more compelled I felt to bring it up.

Going against my inner voice, I flatly stated, “That’s the ugliest kid I’ve ever seen.” I immediately felt like shit, just like my inner voice warned me I would.

My sister looked at the child, thought for a moment and said, “Well. She has some interesting features. With those full lips and big eyes, she’ll most likely be a very good looking adult. Probably a model with that bone structure.”

Probably a model. My coworker agreed, adding, “She’s already not eating her food, so she’ll be good at it.” Then he quickly changed the subject to his best friend who has the prettiest kids in all of America, supposedly due to the fact that they have a French mother.

As he carried on, I wondered how I’d arrived at such a place where I could no longer feel comfortable noticing the ugly in others. And how had I ever felt comfortable about it in the first place? She was just a tiny little human trying to make her way in the world, just like I was when I was little and ugly as a marmot. I certainly didn’t like when people pointed out my afro, thick glasses or bucked teeth. How had I become such a shithead?

I said a silent apology to the little one on my way out and decided to grow the fuck up. What this entails, I don’t know. I hope it means I can still acknowledge when babies are being assholes, because that would make me sad if I start feeling bad about that. But from here on out, ugly is off limits.

As I pat myself on the back for becoming a better person, I wish you a happy Wednesday. Be kind to one another.