A part of me – the selfish part, I suppose – doesn’t always see the point. They cry, they defecate, they don’t let you sleep, they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise, they’re the biggest responsibility a human being can take on.

How do you not screw them up? How do you teach them right from wrong, self respect from conformity, strength from stupidity?

I’m mostly terrified of them, of their direct eyes and probing questions and grabbing little hands. They don’t get any less terrifying when they grow out of nappies and into antipathy.

A part of me wonders what the appeal is.

But then a little body parks itself in my lap, hands folded, dimpled legs outstretched, exuding warmth like a tiny dragon, and shows me where the ladybug is hiding under the leaf on the page of a book, and demands in a barely comprehensible lisp that I read the same story three times over, and I imitate and growl and gasp and playact, and that little body warms me through, as though every winter hearth, every living thing, the sun itself, were contained beneath a Beatles t-shirt in size one.


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