Saturday, February 27, 2010

Base Pairs

I touch babies. I know I'm not supposed to, and for heaven's sake it even bothered me when strangers did it to Ben, but I swear I have no control. Before I'm even aware of it, there's a baby hand in my fingers, and I whip my hand away and apologize, but of course it's too late. I'm not even that much of a baby person! I just literally can't help myself.

I say this to illustrate that I understand the unshakable impulse where babies are concerned. But here's one I don't have, don't understand, and am perpetually perplexed and kind of grossed-out by: the match-making. Sometimes it's someone you know, and sometimes it's some total stranger in the grocery line, but if you have a baby or small child, you will hear, more frequently than you might think, this person's opinion about a sexual partner for your little one.

I find the career assignments weird and off-putting, too. I heard a lot about how Ben was going to be a linebacker. "That's fine," I'd say, "so long as he takes calculus." People who actually know him tend to observe his interest in cars and things mechanical and dub him Engineer (big stretch, given that's what his father is). I'm not sure why it bugs me. There's something inanely reductive about it, I guess, even though clearly it's meant kindly. But why the urge in the first place? Why narrow the field based on pretty much nothing at all? Isn't it more wonderful, isn't it part of what's so marvelous about tiny people to begin with, the opportunity to embrace the nearly limitless possibilities of their future selves?

But the sexual partner thing is just flat-out creepy. We fret over how early our kids become sexualized, but we're already pairing them off before they can walk, let alone before they have secondary sex characteristics. Of all the random small talk to make, why this? Wouldn't it be inappropriate and kind of bizarre if you said the same stuff about actual adults who are sexually active? Hey, your daughter's 25 and my son's 26 -- they'd be perfect for each other!

I don't know, maybe it's just me.

1 comment:

Carrie Frederick Frost said...

I've never taken these comments to be about sexuality so much as about marriage. Which has to do with sexuality, to be sure, but I think the comments come from a place of concern about pair bonding rather than sexuality.

Which is not to say that these comments are problem-free.

And I'll try to let my youngest daughter down easy when I tell her that Ben's mother is against arranged marriages, har har.