One summer in my teenage years, I volunteered at a kinder camp1, and that filled a gap in my knowledge about anyone under 10. Unfortunately, that gap only spanned children between 3 and 5, and aside from that range, I knew nothing about kids.
So interacting with children who’ve yet learned to speak I found especially awkward. I never understood how to talk to someone who didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. It was like talking to a stuffed animal, which I’m pretty sure can’t be done by any sane person without feeling creepy.
Not to mention how phony it sounds. Why do people raise their voices, as if a child trusts them more if they sound like them2? They don’t normally talk like that.
Then I realized that I do kitty talk, with the boospy, and the schmoopsy, and the pokey of the belly. I talk to my cat all the time, a habit I’ve probably picked up from living by myself for the last three years, combined with the fact that I’m an extreme introvert and stay in my house for the majority of my time.
Which is strange because Dolly doesn’t understand anything I’m saying (though I’m sure cats are intelligent enough to evolve to talk if they believed anything a human had to say could be important). And this is after I wrote an entry seven years ago, specifically about how awkward I found it to talking to cats.
Maybe I’m comfortable enough with cats now to hold a conversation with one. Or maybe I’m going crazy.
I’m getting more comfortable with kids too. Not just talking to them, but the idea of having them myself, maybe because my friends are getting married and giving birth and I’m spending more time with a few adorable boys and girls. I can talk to them even though they only respond in monosyllables.
Jodie Foster once described having children as the most creative thing she’s ever done, and I completely understand that now. I can’t think of anything more creative than nurturing growth, curiosity, imagination, and ideas in another human being. One day, I’d like to experience it for myself.