Without sounding too much like a communist (or at least no more than I usually do), I have decided that babies are communal property. Don’t worry, I’m not about to start advocating some kind of baby-sharing mechanism or a secret trade in newborns. I’m talking about the way that when you have a baby, suddenly everybody is your new best friend.
I’ll be honest – I’m new to the idea of fatherhood, and certainly by the numbers, probably a little bit slow. What can I say? I’ve never been in any great rush. Now, though, I’m a father and I have to be surprised at the way that it has changed me.
And it’s also changed the way that people act around me. Now, pushing a pram in the plaza or in the park, it’s like you’re suddenly more visible than I ever was in the past. People – and I mean all kinds of people – not just little old ladies – suddenly approach you and want to know how old Sophia is, and what she’s like, and if she’s sleeping through yet. And then they’ll reach out and let Sophia grab hold of their finger, or they’ll stroke her head.
At first, I was a bit concerned about this. I mean, here’s somebody that I don’t know at all, touching the most precious – and most vulnerable thing – in my life. Should I say something? Should I do soemthing? What happens if they wnat to hold here? What happens if they grab her and run off. Of course, a lot of that is just a new parent’s insecurities playing out, but I think people’s reaction to babies points out some really interesting sociological ideas – principally, what is it about babies that makes them almost common property? What is it that makes them the ultimate icebreakers?
Of course, my thoughts about this are hardly new – there’s a good reason that most politicians love to be seen next to a baby. It’s almost like they believe that the innocence will rub off on them – and hence make people more likely to vote for them. And perhaps that’s close to the truth that we all feel. Perhaps babies are common property because we all can associate with them – we were all young once, and by seeing a baby, we remember what it was like for us, and how innocent and filled with potential we once were, and we want to nurture and cherish that potential.