Friday, July 29, 2005

What is it about men with babies?

I've been going through family photos to find some to bring to Denmark, since host families apparently like seeing who raised the kids they're adopting for a semester. Instead of making it to the more recent pictures, though, I keep looking through the ones from the summer of 1985. For some reason my favorite pictures of my dad are from this era, mostly pictures of him holding the unattractive infant that was me in various places around our house and the surrounding fields. The pictures of Mom with me don't interest me nearly as much, although this is probably due in part to her horrible 80s hair and giant glasses.

I think my favorite part of working in daycares during the summer is watching male lifeguards in the pool with toddlers. It's not a sexual thing (or if it is, it's wrapped up with enough other stuff that I don't classify it as such.) There's something wonderful about the contrast: the muscly 20-something swishing the pudgy-limbed child through the water, her tiny body held in the circumference of his big hands. The child is usually laughing, and the lifeguard inevitably smiles too. Some of these men are not terribly nice people in hours when they're not lifeguarding - their method of relating to the kids is a high-decibel one, usually on the topic of what the kids are doing wrong. But place a tiny creature that will cling to him in complete dependence in his hands, and someone so rough and tough is turned infinitely gentle. It's beautiful to watch.

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