Perhaps it's the wisdom that comes with age, or being in an industry that forces me to be surrounded by them, or (God forbid) my biological clock which has always been a tad on the slow (or nonexistent) side softening in the wake of the past weekend, but I think I have to finally confess:
I don't think I actually hate kids that much anymore.
You have NO idea how hard it was for me to admit that. I was hating on kids BEFORE it was cool, and continued long after my own friends started having kids ("Why?", I believe, was my reaction in my heart-of-hearts, when to their faces I twisted up a smile and mustered a nice, noncommittal "Awww!").
As you may have assumed because of the lack of constant updating about shit that makes me angry, I have been on vacation, and contrary to what you may think and even in spite of severe illness, I am not dead. Nay, I have been in a state far worse: Western New York. Home of wedge haircuts, Chico's and judgement. The bright spot in all this is my family, and though I am indisputably the black sheep of such, I adore my family wholeheartedly with one major exception: I have always been uneasy around kids.
Don't think this was a mutual thing: for as long as I can remember, my hatred of children younger than me (by at least two years) has done nothing to cool their absolute and abiding passion for me. As a young child, toddlers followed me around like a GOD. As a preteen, I was besieged by children of all ages, making me the hit of the kiddie table while I longed to be the "adult" I perceived myself as. Even my angst-ridden teenage years rendered me irresistible to the 10-and-under set. And I, for my part, have always - ALWAYS - hated it.
So when I learned that I was expected to stay in a house with two boys, aged 5-and-under, for the duration of the weekend, I balked. Crazy, wild children around? NO. THANKS. But I decided to give them a chance, after all, if there's anyone out there more poorly equipped to deal with kids than I, it's Eli, and I had to make a better impression than he did using whatever means necessary. And in my case, that meant small talk, peppered with teasing. Um, doesn't everyone find that hilarious???
Apparently, not. It actually took TIME for my cousin's children to warm up to me! This has never happened before! Where was the pheromone that caused preschoolers to cling desperately to my legs when I needed it??? Moreover, shy 3-year-old boys lack the ability to process teasing, and complicated jokes.
After a while, though, I think we jived okay. They teased me back. I now fondly recall staring down into the 3-year-old's bright, wide eyes, grinning back at me with a mouth full of teeth that would all too soon become too small, shouting "YOU GOT NOTHING!!!". I almost weep with laughter recalling the five-year-old rolling his eyes with joy after splashing me in the face in the pool, causing my makeup to melt down my face, factually observing that I looked "like a scary monster" (he later apologized of his own volition, then touched my hand and observed that I was "smooth," which kind of made up for it in a creepy sort of way).
So even though I am miles and miles away from ever teasing my own children or berating them like a street baller, as my dead plants will attest, I have to say I enjoy being the eccentric cousin Meghan who woos small children with her reluctant charms. Eventually.