Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kids and dogs

I was the kind of kid who got picked on a lot in school (shockingly, being precocious, socially awkward, and freakishly tall is not a recipe for grade-school popularity.  Oh, and also I had glasses and braces.  And my clothes never fit right because of my extreme tallness.  And I had a few years where I cut my own hair). 

Since then, I haven't really hung out with kids too much; I don't have kids of my own, my friends don't have kids, I'm an only child so there are no nieces or nephews...basically what I'm saying is that the last time I spent any substantial amount of time with children, it was recess and they were chasing me through the schoolyard with sharpened sticks or something.  I don't know how to relate to kids as an adult.

A while back, a friend and I were in a restaurant waiting for a table.  A couple with a little girl was also waiting, and my friend started making small talk with this little girl: "Hi there!  I like your dress.  Are you having lunch with your mom and dad?  What are you going to eat?"  And I was amazed by this because I never know what the hell to say to kids.  I mean, at times in my life I've felt called upon to acknowledge the existence of a child (when someone brings their spawn to work to meet everyone, for instance), and I draw a total blank.  I'm like, "Um, hey. What's up?" and so far no toddler has ever given me a satisfying answer.

I do have the capacity for gentle, playful banter, though.  I know this because I've caught myself talking that way to random dogs that I pass on the street.  I always pretty much ignore the owner and focus entirely on the dog: "Hi there!  Look how pretty you are.  Did you go to the park with your daddy?  Did you have fun?  Were you a good doggie?"  I know that dogs probably don't understand my questions and definitely won't answer them, but I try to engage them in conversation anyway.

Perhaps the solution to my awkwardness with kids is to pretend that they're dogs (commence with the leg-humping jokes...NOW!).

Yesterday morning I was walking past a school bus that was stopped at a red light and a girl inside tappity-tapped on the window to get my attention.  When I looked up, she waved at me.  It didn't seem malicious, so I smiled at her.  She smiled back, and I kept walking.  It was nice.

That's the other thing: even though I feel awkward as hell around children, they usually seem fascinated by me.  Probably because I look like a cartoon.

Children respond to me for some reason.


  1. It's probably for the best that you not treat them like dogs. They get enough of that at school.

    Maybe try thinking of them as people?

  2. But...I like dogs more than I like people...