Over the years, I've created a certain rep for myself: I don't like babies. I'm not rude, crude or nasty about it. It's just that I work diligently to stay away of them. If anyone asks, I make it clear that I'm not much into "baby" anything.
Of course, since I'm writing this post, it probably won't surprise you to learn that I really don't dislike babies at all. My issue with babies is that I don't have much experience with them and so I often feel very uncomfortable around them.
I've never been a father, so there have been no babies in my house. I don't think I have ever had a friend who was raising an infant at the time I hung out with them. I'm not particularly close to any of my cousins, so I wasn't around when they were raising their children. My sole experience with infants and very young children was during my time as a social worker and, even during this phase of my life, said experience was VERY limited.
I offer this information as a backdrop to something that occurred the other day.
I was up visiting at my friend Paul's mini mart -- my one consistent social outlet. The youngest employee, Kayla, came into the store as a customer with her approximately one year old daughter. As Kayla collected a variety of soft drinks and chips, her little tyke was having trouble walking next to mom. Her daughter would take a few steps and then sort of waddled her butt to the floor.
After watching this sequence three or four times, I walked to the back of the store. As I approached, I think Kayla expected me to offer to carry her store items to the front, so that she could pick up her daughter. To Kayla's utter shock, the man who says he doesn't like babies picked up the baby! I then followed Kayla to the checkout area with baby in tow.
As we walked, the little girl babbled baby talk and -- even more surprising, I'm sure -- I reciprocated. By the time I handed the child back over to mommy, she was laughing, smiling and making cute baby noises. As Kayla and baby left to go pick up Kayla's boyfriend, she looked back at me smiling and shaking her head in disbelief.
The next day, when she was on duty at the store, she couldn't stop talking about how well I seemed to connect with her young daughter. I told her that, while I feel uncomfortable around infants and young children due to a lack of experience, children have gravitated towards me all throughout my life. It's something I have never understood.
Kayla's response caught me completely off guard. "I know what it is, Trey" she said. "There is a certain innocence about you and babies pick up on that." The other employee on duty (Dan) readily agreed with her assessment.
I got to tell you that there are a lot of words I can think of to describe myself and innocent isn't one of them!! And yet, this isn't the first time in my life someone has referred to me as having an innocent demeanor. In fact, this is a very common word others use to describe me.
I don't understand why. When I ask people -- as I certainly asked Kayla -- to describe what they mean, I'm told that they can't put it into words. There's just something about me that oozes innocence.
I suppose it has something to do with my autism. That's the only explanation that would seem to make sense. I mean, it would be one thing to be considered innocent by others IF they could explain to me what they mean by this term, but no one can seem to put it into words.
I still don't get it, but at least it's better than people viewing me as dangerous or something like that.