There is something I have to confess: I don’t like kids. I cannot help it, I am just not a kids person. I have never had maternal instincts. I am not looking forward to motherhood because it is not something I want. I do not even want to consider it until I am at least 40, and even then I will probably still not want them. It does sound selfish, but I have come to terms with it, so one could say that I am happy being selfish and I do not care.
Whenever my friends stop in the middle of the street to make faces at a baby in a buggy, I merely stand there, blank-faced, trying to hide how tedious I find all that baby talk. However, every time I see a dog or a cat I am the one who stops and stares at them for half an hour. And that includes stray cats –the only type of cat you can find if you are down the street.
So one can imagine my reaction back when I was 21 and I was told I would be having a niece. Disaster averted.
Every single member of my family was overwhelmed with joy (not that I wasn’t happy, I am not a monster), but I did not know what to expect. Of course, I was happy for my brother and his wife, but I was also afraid of what was to come. There would be a baby in our family and that baby would become a kid. Like those kids I see yelling at restaurants, embarrassing their parents in public places and making the rest of us uncomfortable. Oh no, we were going to have one of those. Why?
Let’s not fool ourselves: babies are not cute when they are born.
As the birthdate approached, I felt as if everybody was starting to ignore me. I had always been the youngest in the family, with more than a decade of age gap with my siblings, so the selfish part of me, which happens to be a big part, was invaded by a profound state of fear.
Finally, my niece was born. Let’s not fool ourselves; babies are not cute when they are born and they do not look like their mother or their second uncle once removed. No, they are red-faced beings who just came out of their mothers, they don’t look very nice. Not even Scarlett Johansson or Bradley Cooper looked nice when they were born, so stop this nonsense.
But, as is traditional when a baby is born, every visitor who came into the hospital room would find her a resemblance to anyone. Literally anyone. And all I could do was sit there, dumbfounded, biting my tongue to avoid making any sarcastic comments that would reflect my selfish indifference towards children.
As the months went by and her parents were both back at work, this little baby who now looked like a human being began spending her days in the houses of her grandparents. Since I lived with my parents all the years that I lived in my homeland, Spain (and still do when I visit), this meant that I was bound to spend a significant amount of time with her, and it scared the hell out of me. But my parents had no regard for my child-hating personality whatsoever, so I was trapped.
Babies cannot do interesting things, I thought. And if I had to spend time with her, I needed to turn her into a cool being. My first step was teaching her how to high-five and fist-bump. By the time she was one, she had mastered both and she had started to like all the musicals we would watch together from my DVD collection. I tried to go one step further and I showed her Jurassic Park, but other than the music, she did not get much, so I will have to try again in a few years.
By the time she was two, she actually began to bear a resemblance to someone in the family: me. A dead ringer, with brunette hair instead of blonde locks. Strangers would think that I was a teenage mother. My poor sister-in-law, who went through nine months of pregnancy and labour, had to endure people telling her just how much her daughter looked like her aunt. Like me, the girl who had not asked for any of this, who was happy as the youngest child, the spoiled one, the centre of attention and now was slowly being dethroned.
Now that she is almost four, she has just started attending the same school I went to. I can have normal conversations with her. I gave her a Rapunzel doll that she has named after me and, as her parents tell me, she sometimes grounds the doll and makes her sit in the corner of the room if she does not do what she is told. And I expect no less of her. Of course, we still high-five and fist-bump whenever I go home and every time we talk on Skype, although I have been suggested to stop doing it, as the greasy prints on my computer screen are very difficult to remove.
But after all, I still don’t like kids. Except for my niece. She, I find her tolerable. You might even say I am fond of her. Just don’t tell anyone, I don’t want to ruin my reputation.