I don’t have kids. Can I hang with yours?

I stopped by my friend Rashi’s house yesterday, but she was asleep. She still lives with her parents, and they were delighted to see me and hear news of the outside world. Honestly, I kind of got stuck talking to them for twenty minutes until Rashi woke up and we could hang out. I didn’t mind too much. I’m a millennial, and a lot of my friends still live with their parents. In fact, I’ve met many new friends, including Rashi, through their parents. By new, I mean extremely new. Rashi, for example, is five months old. Though we are decades apart in age, we have the best time. We sit down, or we walk around the room, and she stares at me with big, curious eyes and laughs at the slightest eyebrow move. She is pleasant company, with her bold fashion choices, consistent snacking and napping habits, and general lack of trying. It’s hard to describe why it’s so easy to love being around her and my other baby friends, except to say that Rashi just kind of … is.

Parents-to-be have confided in me more than once that they worry about their social lives and relationships in the early and notoriously hectic years of a child’s life. They agonize over their friendships changing and growing distant when they become a parent. They fret that they may even lose those friends in a haze of childcare and sleepless nights. I tell them what they should worry about is that I will prefer their children’s company to theirs. It’s a fair warning, you see, because that is what keeps happening. My friends create these very odd and completely charming little people that are dependably easy and fun companions. Meanwhile, the kids’ poor old parents continue to get more depleted and world-weary as life does its thing. Life’s “thing”, as you already know, is coming up with an ever-increasing number of ways to grind us all down to dust.

Many of us enjoy tiny versions of regular things. We make keyrings of the Eiffel Tower, want three sliders instead of one big tedious burger, and lose our minds for teacup pigs. Look at the gachapon vending machine boom in Japan, where people go wild for toy versions of everyday objects! I’m not saying I want a vending machine that churns out a variety of adorable babies, but I’m not saying I don’t want that either. Probably best to keep doing what I’m doing, which is borrowing other people’s children. I don’t want one for keeps, you see. That’s way too much work. Bedraggled new parents with a haunted look in their eye frequently complain that nobody told them how hard it would be to raise a child. What I think is, then how come I know? What I say is, want me to take her for an hour?

I have a work meeting on Saturday; it’s about a podcast. Perhaps that fact about me – the fact that I agreed to a work meeting on the weekend – makes you think you know the kind of person I am. A rise-and-grind, no-time-off, “wake up, beauty, it’s time to beast” kind of hustler. You’re mistaken. I am lazy to a fault, and I love that about me. The reason I’m hauling myself out of bed to meet a podcast producer at 10am on a Saturday is that said producer’s two-year-old daughter has a dance class in the park at that time, and he mentioned it to me. “Let’s chat then!” I suggested at once. “In fact,” I lied, “that’s my only window”.

The producer seemed fine with it, if a little surprised. And we will discuss a podcast idea; sure, why not? I’ve been meaning to dominate that space for a while now, and I’m curious to know what plans he has for me to unseat Joe Rogan. But actually, something a lot more enjoyable and engaging to me is watching tiny children twirling around in the leaves, making hilarious eye contact as they shake their little selves way off the beat, toppling over and getting back up again. Thank goodness for other people’s children!

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