Babies are Tyrants


Gabrielle Zevin has written a hilarious description of babies in her delightful novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikery.

A.J. , an unrepentant curmudgeon, is images (43)literally saved after he adopts a toddler left abandoned in his bookstore. His first description of babies is unusual but comically apt. Baby Maya is a “terrorist” who makes insane demands and she is completely self-centered making her a terrible conversationalist. She is worse than an untrained puppy. Even more objectionable, she has terrible taste in literature, insisting that he read the same board book over and over. Although he complains loudly, A.J. is hooked by Maya’s first smile and declaration of love. His description seems outrageous but every parent will smile and secretly admit that every word is true.

Babies are loveable tyrants.

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We used to joke and tell our infants, ” It is good that you are cute!” because they usurped every other activity, demanding and needing immediate attention. They  do save us from our own narcissism, though, forcing us to grow up and mature.

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From the moment a baby locks eyes with a parent and grips their finger, they forge a bond of steel that unleashes a tidal wave of protective love that surprises a new parent. These preverbal little people express their needs with heart-rending screeches of pain, hunger and frustration that can unnerve the most independent adult, forcing us to dig deep to discover hidden resources of strength and patience that we did not even know existed. When those resources have depleted, they nudge us to reach out to others and to God for help. I know my babies saved me from myself, just like Maya saved A.J. Fikery.

 

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