A subpar beginning to Friday, April 14th:
Since my roommate ditched me for law school, I've been frantically trying to move to a new apartment, considering that paying the rent is much less fun when my roommate's not paying half of it. I'm deciding between Venice and Beverly Hills and after agonizing over the decision, I decided I'd spend the day today pacing around both places for a few hours each to get a better feel for the areas. Unfortunately I woke up this morning to find that it was pouring outside. Worse, my freezer was wide open, causing me to gasp audibly.
So now I'm sitting here, trying to pretend the whole freezer thing didn't happen, and writing an entry about kids. That's right, an entry about kids.
To begin, babies--though nothing more than pods--are obviously a huge amount of fun, and I like two year olds as well. Two year olds are like dogs, in that sometimes you'll see one that sucks for whatever reason, but all it takes is spending two minutes with it and you'll end up fond of it. Four year olds are similar, but the ones at the very suckiest end of the spectrum are simply unlikeable people, and no amount of time will solve that.
Then you get into some rougher waters. The "automatic likeability" factor for 5-7 year old drops dramatically. The shittiest 40% of them are are wretched humans, and I only really like the top quarter or so. And this is from someone who tends to like kids-- the percentage is undoubtedly higher for more cold-hearted people.
So I was immediately irritated the other night when I walked into a 50-person Passover seder to see that at least 10 of those 50 people were in the miserable 5-7 range. One of them I recognized immediately. Last year at the same event I asked this child's parents what their daughter's name was. There were a solid two seconds of silence before the father turned to me and explained that it was a little boy with long hair, whose name was Matthew. So upon seeing him this year, I cringed at the memory, said hi to Matthew, and continued on to my table.
I was seated with 7 other random people in their 20's, and after dinner, one of the more loathsome 5-7's came over to the table and grabbed a cell phone that belonged to one of the girls at the table. He ran about gleefully with her phone, while we watched her pretend to be in good spirits and amused by the whole thing, but it was clear to everyone that if no one would find out she would have knocked the kid over and taken her phone back. This went on for about 3 minutes-- without a doubt my favorite 3 minutes of the night.
Towards the end of the night the man who was hosting asked if I'd play the piano. I gladly agreed, and sat down to play. A few people gathered around and listened and a couple made requests. This was fun. Until, of course, a 5-7 year old came over and started banging on the high end of the piano. Like the girl from before, I was now pretending to be in good spirits and amused by the whole thing. Then he decided that banging on the high end wasn't infuriating enough, so he moved to the low end and started banging, all the while snot pouring out of his wretched face.
This is a situation I've been in countless times before. It's a tricky one. If I pretend the banging kid is funny and cute, he'll be encouraged, and bang harder, and his fat banging hands will pound barrels of loathing into my soul. If I act irritated and angry, I look like an unbelievable ass. Plus, knowing a typical 5-7 year old, this will also encourage them to bang harder. So for years I would just play on in this situation, burning with hatred, resisting the urge to injure the child.
Then one day I gave up. You can't beat a 5-7 year old. You just can't. They'll pull out all the stops. No amount of strategy can conquer them. So now when the banging starts, I immediately resign, and pull the little monster up on the bench next to me. I take his index fingers in my hands and play a little song with them. Then we bang together. Banging on the piano is actually pretty fun. So this is one source of stress I've minimized. If I can learn to relax about the other 3,207 infuriating things in life, I should be able to live well into my 40's.