as it turns out

“Cupcake Child” is a phrase I coined a few years back. The term, while rooted in nothing specific, was meant to describe the feelings that a parent has about his/her child. Usually these feelings are rooted in nothing, except the fact that all parents think that their child is a Cupcake Child. There are so few real Cupcake Children that the term exists only to denote that I’m extremely annoyed with yet another parent and their flat-faced child with no hair at three. In fact, I don’t think a Cupcake Child has been born since February of ’84, and I’m hardly a child anymore.

The truth about children is that no one really likes other people’s children. There are obvious exceptions. Barren church women always love other people’s children. Why? Because the pain of never getting to carry a baby in their dusty wombs makes even the most horrifying child seem like a blessing. One of God’s precious and glorious gifts. Pedophiles also love other people’s children. But that’s more in the way that someone covets another man’s recliner.

Having little to no real experience with children, I have to rely on my limited interaction with them to gauge how I might feel about them in real life. I recently attended a 30- and 40-something cookout/party. When I arrived, expecting a yard full of vivacious career people, I found a yard of cattle, grazing about, chewing, sipping and staring at one obvious focal point….someone else’s children.

Having not entered the world of the 30-something, I was immediately horrified. In addition to not being prepared to see children, I was completely caught off guard by the fact that there were two of them. Looking just alike. Twins. Someone brought children–twins– to a party. What do we do with them?

As it turns out, we stare at them. Then, when they do something like eat, everyone at the party is cued to exclaim, “they are eating!” And then as they make their way on hands and knees around the crowd, people make awkward turns at glee “look at them go!” “wow! they are really moving!”

Not only is it mortifying, it’s degrading.

Standing there, I started to understand the root of the Cupcake Child problem. Inflation.

Simple economics can explain that inflation is responsible for the fake value of a good. So it goes with children. So caught off guard by Fudd & Co. weaving through my legs, even I began to make comments about them. Since it’s impolite to tell people you’d like to kick their children, or punt them across the lawn if they cause you to spill your Merlot again, you end up saying thinks like “oh! such a quick little bugger. bet he’ll be a track star!”

There you have it. Suddenly, the 30-something and her husband beam across the lawn. “Yes! A track star!”

Unfortunately, the truth is that unless the child’s head stops growing and lets his body catch up, Baby Big Head isn’t going to be able to balance that noggin and sit up, much less run anywhere. More obvious, you’re child isn’t black, so unless you had an affair with a South African with an albino mother, chances are you’d better start thinking about vocational schools.

But it won’t change. Women, haggard and worn, wrinkled and aged from years of soccer practice, unplanned pregnancies, drug talks, sex talks, college essays, and remedial classes, will pick up an aged and tattered photo from a box, scan the image of a very small child and think with a still subjective-and-altogether-delusioned mind, “he really was the cutest baby ever. and so fast!”