Children Aren’t Poison

 “I once heard this lady say, “I love kids.” That’s nice. It’s a little weird though. It’s like saying “I like people… for a little while.”   — Demetri Martin


A story is circulating about Professor Sydney Engelberg of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. When an infant started crying in class, the professor simply picked him up (with the mother’s permission, I assume) and continued to lecture. The fact that the story has generated so much attention is a bit puzzling to me. Perhaps it’s because we’ve artificially separated our worlds into adult and child compartments, and we think that kids aren’t supposed to be in certain places. Of course, the move could backfire, and the baby could react even worse once he was in the arms of someone he didn’t know.

If I were in that position while teaching, I might try the same thing. It just hasn’t happened yet. I’ve had students bring boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, parents, young children (who love seeing slides of primates and bones). But so far no crying infants. Maybe one day.  

A year after my brother passed away, my family held a weekday memorial Mass for him (I was raised Catholic). His son, my nephew, was just a toddler and he was fidgety that day in the chapel. Several of the older parishioners, who I assumed were probably regular attendees, cast more than a few dirty glances in our direction, probably because of the noise coming from our direction and maybe because they saw us as interlopers. Even though the tension was palpable, the priest seemed undisturbed and was doing his best to proceed with the ceremony. When the Mass finally ended, he addressed my nephew’s rambunctiousness, but he scolded the attendees instead: “It’s a child, people. Lighten up.”  

Children require a lot of parental investment in terms of effort, time, attention, money, and affection. They can be unpredictable and severely test your patience. But they aren’t poison. You used to be one yourself.

2 thoughts on “Children Aren’t Poison

  1. nice. Yeah, it was a nasty thing at our wedding when a bridesmaid’s kid was crying for Mom and no-one would let her go. Makes the video a little painful. We didn’t think to tell everyone beforehand to let the kids do what they liked, that they couldn’t possibly destroy the wedding – and we realized it instantly when that kid started crying, But bride and groom, we flt like we couldn’t go off script or something . . . we just let that kid’s Dad figure out out, which he did eventually, the old fasioned way by carrying the kid out of earshot.

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