I have four children. Now I admit whole-heartedly that if it wasn't for my broken back and all the kidney problems during pregnancy, I would probably have at least two more.
Not because I can handle them but because I love babies.
I like children. I love babies. Sweet, snuggly, carryable babies who don't say anything and think gazing into your eyes while you feed them is a good way to spend an afternoon. They're great for keeping warm at football games and provide a built in escape from boring social situations.
"You know, the baby, we have to go!"
Little Georgia recently turned age 2 and it has been a painful process for me. I managed to keep her from walking until she was almost 20 months. This only worked because she's naturally obedient (the first of four children to be so).
I'd come into a room and there she'd be, all pulled up at the edge of the couch like she was intending to do something about it.
"Uh oh!" I'd yell, "Sit down baby, you're just a little baby. You're too little to walk! Crawl to Mama, good girl, Gigi, you're just a baby!"
Sick, isn't it?
I find myself using the "you're just a baby" phrase to excuse her from just about everything.
Last month when I came downstairs and found my brand new tube of lipstick smeared all over the wall, complete with pink handprints up two flights of stairs, I couldn't seem to drum up any anger. She came around the corner and looked at me with those sweet little baby eyes and all I could do was pick her up.
"Oh, Baby, did you do that?"
"Uh huh," she said, one little chubby finger in her mouth.
"Sweetheart, you can't draw on walls! Only on paper! This is bad!"
"Sorry, Mama!" she said, burying her curly little head on my shoulder.
"Where do we draw, Georgia?"
"On paper!" she said, giving me a big apologetic hug and snuggling in.
Tell me, how am I supposed to resist a child who is that naturally penitent and anxious to please?
"Oh, it's OK sweetheart. You're just a baby!"
Then I gave her a sucker and watched Barney with her. Obviously it had been a traumatic experience and I wanted to be sure there were no lasting effects.
And she just keeps getting older. The terrible tantrums have recently started, but in her case they're mild to non-existent. Recently, she was throwing a fit on the floor about something and working herself into a good cry when I came around the corner.
"Georgia!" I said, "You stop that right now! We don't kick walls like that!"
She heaved her little self off the floor amid the sobbing and said, "Sorry, Mama! I want a Baba!"
We might or might not be slightly attached to her bottles. I keep telling myself that once we lose them all to couches and corners I will move her into the more appropriate sippy cups. Someday. But she's just a baby, what's the hurry?
More recently, she was upstairs working in the play area when June, age 5, came in.
"Georgia!" June said, "What are you doing?"
June had spent a great deal of time coloring a picture from one of her books to hang on the fridge. She had left her paper and markers on the table to run downstairs. By the time she came back up, the damage was done.
"Georgia, no!" she said, "What did you do to my picture? Mom, she drew all over it and ruined it! Now I have to start all over!"
I watched as June stomp over and yank the ruined picture from her sister.
Georgia looked appalled at the accusation. She put both hands on her hips and yelled, "I just a baby!"
I think that phase has officially ended.
Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, or vist her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.