Saturday, December 23, 2006

The workplace Christmas pot-luck

My workplace has a culture of its own. It is understood, that on the last day of work before Christmas, people can bring their children to the workplace. So that's what I did on Friday. I brought Becca with me. Unfortunately, this meant nixing the morning nap, but considering she was eye-rubbing in the car on the way to work, her behaviour really didn't suffer all that much. She was definitely on the edge of a meltdown when we left, and her walking had become dangerously uncoordinated, but we escaped in the nick of time. There were a few other children that came in - notably, a 2 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. Rebecca was very interested in the little boy, made a squealing bee-line for him and began to molest him in a friendly way. This intimidated the poor boy who already seemed shy. It was clear quite quickly that she was making him intensely uncomfortable. Ultimately, I had to physically drag Becca away from him. The little girl seemed to be of less interest, except for the fact that she had a toy stroller that Rebecca was keen to claim as her own (just as with the full size ones at home, Rebecca wants to flip them over and look at the wheels). This distressed the little girl, who, being 2, has a comfort and familiarity with sharing about equal to Becca's. At the pot-luck itself, despite having enjoyed a large and nutritious breakfast, Rebecca decided to thieve from my plate. The food was arranged on tables "buffet" style, and I carried the baby in one arm, and my dish in the other. I was ony distracted for a few seconds, but in that time she grabbed a snack-size pita bread in one hand, and a chocolate timbit in the other. By the time I noticed and tried to intervene (to the extent that is possible with your hands full), the timbit was gone. Maybe this seems natural to you - after all, timbits are yummy, but you must understand that Rebecca has never eaten a timbit or a donut before. Her exposure to sweets has been rather limited. How did she know that it was the best thing on my plate?! Then she got timbit-slime all over my clothes and her clothes, while eating the pita. Just another day with a 1 year old. Two things excited Rebecca more than anything on Friday - one was a small punting dog that was at the pot luck. It was dressed up for Christmas and was running around underfoot (all the more so because Rebecca was chasing him, shrieking with delight). The other was my limber coworker who did cartwheels and walked on her hands to entertain Becca. This had her giggling and laughing with delight.
One final thought - people love to interact with babies. Of course, Rebecca was a bit shy when we first arrived, and clung to my legs. But, eventually she warmed up. What is strange is that she seems to naturally gravitate to some people more than others. What makes her decide that one stranger is safe, and another is not? I feel bad when she is not affectionate with everyone, because people actually feel rejected, and for some reason, being rejected by a baby seems to hurt people more. Also odd - people decide for themselves that babies just hate them, and readily accept this as their lot in life. I don't understand. Anyway, there were four people that Rebecca seemed especially fond of on Friday. They were all women - I don't know if that is significant or not. Maybe strange men are scarier for little children? Maybe it's because the women to men ratio where I work is incredibly skewed? Anyhow, she loved our limber girl - naturally, because she made her laugh. She loved my sweet and maternal coworker, because she played with her and has a gentle touch. She loved our pregnant admin support lady - walked right up to her and hugged her legs (I felt particularly happy about that - I suppose it's because I like the idea of sending a message to someone pregnant with their first child that says "look, you are going to be a mommy and what's more you are going to be loved and adored by a little person" or alternatively "you may feel crappy and swollen right now, but just you wait, soon you will be getting hugs from a baby"). And lastly, she liked a girl in my office for no discernible reason - of course, she is very nice, but Rebecca had no way of knowing that - and Becca just went in for the hug while surrounded by a group of people - all of whom would have been keen to receive one. Did they give off the right vibes? Who knows? Do they look like they could be family members? Did they have attributes or mannerisms that reminded Becca of people she already feels comfortable with? Just another mystery.

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