I HATE my nephews. A strong word, you say? How about despise, detest, loathe? In short, I can’t stand the little brats.
Before I had a child of my own, I merely disliked them. They made me long for those proverbial ”good ol’ days,” when children were seen and not heard. A golden age of yore when they had it half right (I mean, I’d rather not see them either, truth be told). However, thanks to their mother and grandmother, who, God only know why, have worked them up to a fever pitch over my new baby, my feelings have escalated to complete abhorrence (yes, I consulted a thesaurus in composing this piece).
When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to look at babies sideways. I actually recall my grandmother yelling ”don’t look at the baby!” at me when I dared attempt a furtive glance in the direction of my newborn cousin. I don’t know what she thought would ensue as a result, but it was clearly very dire and not something she wanted on her conscience. I suppose I internalized the message that babies are not to be looked at, touched or in any way interfered with by anyone other than their mother, and it’s hard for me to let go of that early life lesson. Add to that my WASP aversion to human contact, and you’re dealing with someone who just doesn’t want someone else’s kids pawing at my baby, relatives or not. Period.
It was tough for me being a part of my husband’s family even before I had a baby. They’re huggers, which I find really annoying. And there are a lot of them, so the round of hugs takes for-bloody-ever when they all get together. Is there a polite way to say ”no, I don’t want to hug you and I certainly don’t want to hug your snot-nosed little germ factory, who brings a new viral strain home from kindergarten on a daily basis.”
I was raised by my grandmother, who loved me dearly but never once hugged me, although she did give me a kiss on the cheek on the occasion of my first international plane trip (no, domestic flights, apparently, did not warrant any untoward displays of affection).
My husband’s family is also loud, obnoxious and demanding, come to think of it (gee, I wonder where the nephews get it from?). Before my daughter was born, I was able to take them in small doses with copious amounts of alcohol. However, that wonderful, liquid coping mechanism is now off the menu thanks to the mystical, magical, surprisingly-ineffective-against-kindergarten-germs breastfeeding. And I’m seeing more of them than I ever had to before becoming a parent.
So here I am, trapped in a family of huggers, who are spreading their own unsettling disturbing creepy predilection for untoward displays of affection to the next generation, teaching my nephews to give a ”huggy” and a ”kissy” (gross!) to my daughter and encouraging said nephews’ near-fanatical excitement over her arrival when we visit. Had I known how they would chant her name over and over as though she were some kind of rock star, I swear I would have named her ”Shut the Fuck Up.”
I bite my tongue for the most part, although I’m the one who suffers most from the myriad colds she has already endured (despite the alleged mystical, magical properties of the breast milk that continues to be her main diet, I might add, but that’s a whole other topic). I try to content myself with fantasies that my sister-in-law will decide to leave her husband and take the kids far away where, sadly (snicker) we will never see them again. Although we will occasionally be sent a grainy photo and hear through the grapevine that they are doing fine. It would be wrong to wish any actual harm on a 5- and 2-year old.
I don’t want to be one of those fanatical, helicopter moms who puts her baby in a bubble (metaphorical or otherwise) and refuses to let her experience life. I want my daughter to fall down and skin her knees once in a while. That’s part of growing up. But I don’t want her to catch every goddamn cold my stupid nephews bring home from kindergarten and daycare and I don’t want her to grow up to be a… gasp!… hugger. Is that so wrong?
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(photo: Nick’s on flickr)