I have generally negative affection for children. Oh yes, they adore me and flock to my side, as does every human person equipped with a heart and the ability to appreciate pure loveliness, but on an individual basis I'm kinda shit. It's their soulless, dead eyes that get me most. I can't talk to things that won't talk back, and the under twos and the shy-feigning under fives get me most. 'How old are you, then?' I will say to a small person. Nothing. Maybe a bit of drool or something but for conversational purposes, zilch. 'Thirteen weeks' their proud parent will say which gives me even less because what serious person gauges age in weeks? For example, I am 1247 weeks old. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. If I tell you I am getting drunk next Wednesday to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the conclusion of my mothers first pregnancy, what do you know now? EXACTLY.
A young man and his mother came into my place of work (a pharmacy, today. Tomorrow, who knows? I don't!) because she couldn't afford toys. Or a babysitter. Oh, yeah, she pretended it was to buy hydro cortisone cream for his eczema (btw, do all babies have eczema? Seems like it. Gross) but really it was because she is cheap and bored of watching him smash her house up. The tyke took off careening round the shop, grabbing at anything that was of interest to him (which, since he is about 18 months old is anything that is three dimensional or coloured). I turned a blind eye, because in my experience one is generally supposed to find other people's children delightful no matter what they do, so eyes must be turned blindly, even when they start shitting up everything they can reach.
Until the fucker ran right into the shop window and started stomping on the Berocca display. Hell no. Do you know how long it took me to get those posters hanging straight? 'Shaaaaane' sighed his mother as he started to scream, having discovered that a)the shop window is ten inches wide and impossible to turn around in, b)THERE IS NO WAY OUT and OMG, cars rushing past outside the glass! You, the average, sane individual may be perturbed by the shrill cries of a toddler stuck in a glass corridor, but she, inexplicably, was not.
So it was up to your hero to rescue the little rascal. I thrust aside the Max Factor stand and elbowed my way through last month's Nicorette display, hitting my head on a glass shelf in the process. What I don't do...
'Shane' I said softly to the grubby-cheeked ball of chub sitting on a busted Vichy posterboard, who was working hard to scrub snotty tears deeper into his blotchy red cheeks. 'Maaaaa!' he whimpered back, and threw his filthy claws up to me, greyish tears tracking cleanly down his three chins. 'Maaaaa!' was the cry that went directly to Lucy's empty uterus. But, yeah, I didn't do biology in school so it was probably just my stomach grumbling.
Dude, I melted.
I lured him out by shaking a bottle of Looney Tunes bubble bath in front of him then soothed him and petted his scabby little brow until he could draw a deep, grief-stricken breath. 'Good boy!' I exclaimed. 'Who's a good boy? Shane's a good boy!' Then I patted his head. Dogs and children are pretty much the same in my book.
By the time I handed the young vandal back to his indifferent mother, he had cried a thousand years of snotty woe on to my shirt. Heaving the wordless hulk under her arm, she left. I watched them go and my ovaries pinged into overdrive. I wanted me a Shane! I wanted a grimy lump of baby to wipe goo off and snuggle! Just as I was headed off to pick up an ovulation kit and find me some manseed, I spotted the Cortopin sitting on the counter. 'Martina, that woman forgot her cream!' I said to my boss.
'Oh no,' said she, 'it wasn't eczema at all. They're headed to the doctors now; I think his scabby things are chicken pox.
'By the way, you have phlegm on your shoulder.'