Here, hold my baby

This morning, as I left my apartment, I bumped into an upstairs neighbour whom I’d never met previously. He was carrying his baby daughter downstairs. I joined them on the staircase just outside the apartment. As we neared the front door he turned to me and said: “Is it OK if I ask you for a favour?” I figured he needed me to open the door for him, seeing how his arms were occupied with the whole baby-holding business.

I nodded, at which point he said the following:

“I’ve left the stroller in the apartment. Do you mind holding my daughter for a few moments while I run upstairs and get it?”

For a second I wanted to mess with his head by rolling my eyes wildly in their sockets, exclaiming “Yes! Yeeeesss! We would love to hold our precioussss!” and laughing maniacally. Instead, I calmly took the girl from him and held her for a minute or two until the father returned with the stroller. Boring, I know. He thanked me and we all went about our day.

As I continued my journey to work I started thinking, which is an activity I don’t really enjoy, yet am forced to engage in more often than I’d like. I thought:

“Wow, that’s a pretty brave guy. Handing his daughter to a complete stranger, with no witnesses around. Sure, I appear to be his downstairs neighbour, but what if I’m just a guest of his actual neighbours? What if my exact plan is to hang around apartment buildings waiting for hapless parents to forget their strollers? An extremely ineffective plan, but what if? What an irresponsible father, handing his baby over to a random, even if dashingly handsome and silky-voiced, man!”

Censored Red

Photo of me, censored by the “Too Hot To Be Seen” committee.

Immediately following that, I thought:

“Wait a second? Why should this be so weird? Can’t a human being trust another human being with a third mini human being anymore? How did we become a society where being paranoid, cynical and mistrusting of others is the norm? I’m sure some people would crucify this man for leaving his child alone with a stranger, but why? Is he wrong to assume other people are decent? Isn’t this a bit of a heavy subject matter to mull over on a train to work? Get a life, Daniel!”

And immediately after that:

“That may be true, but would I leave my yet-unborn hypothetical child with a random person in this situation? Hell no, I wouldn’t even leave my child alone with myself. I tend to drop things, like, all the time! What was he thinking?”

This internal monologue continued until the moment I caught everyone on the train staring at me and realised I had been wrong about the “internal” part at the beginning of this sentence.

What I’ve learned from the thought exercise is this:

1. I can’t make up my mind on any issue that extends beyond picking a type of bread to make my sandwich with.

2. I should probably consult somebody about that whole “talking to myself in public” thing.

3. This is too divisive a topic to be adequately explored by a man playing Devil’s advocate in his own head for five minutes.

What do the rest of you think? Would you be OK with a stranger looking after your child in this situation? Is the father the embodiment of all evil? Is this even worthy of discussion? Most importantly: is Daniel a dashingly handsome and silky-voiced man?

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62 thoughts on “Here, hold my baby

  1. I would take the kid, but then I’d hold out out from my body as far as I could and put on a really disgusted face the whole time, as if I were literally holding a sack of cowshit.

    Oh, I don’t like kids, in case you hadn’t noticed.

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  2. Kianwi says:

    Um, wow, that’s something! I guess I don’t judge him too harshly since you are his neighbor, but there is no way I would do that. Even if you didn’t deliberately do something to the baby, how did he know the baby wouldn’t have screamed his head off the entire time? Or that you wouldn’t scream your head off the entire time?

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    • Ha, the latter one seems quite likely. I should have done that…I should have let him return to a scene of a confused baby staring at me while I scream uncontrollably!

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  3. My favorite line: “Hell no, I wouldn’t even leave my child alone with myself.” While I agree that it’s sad that we don’t feel that we can trust anyone, I can’t imagine handing my child over to a complete stranger and hope that I’m right in placing that trust in them. What are people thinking?!

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    • Maybe the fact that Denmark generally sees much lower levels of violent crime makes people a bit more relaxed and trusting. Or maybe I just have such a trustworthy face. Especially when I do that cute Gollum impression.

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  4. nataliedeyoung says:

    I wish we lived in a society where we could trust each other, even strangers. Truth is, I’m from L.A. – it’s hard to trust anyone here.

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  5. I would NEVER leave my child in the arms of a stranger, because we do live in a society in which we can no longer trust anyone. It’s awful!

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    • I see where you’re coming from. It’s understandable people are cautious about this stuff…he doesn’t know if I’m secretly building a child-ninja army or something!

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  6. modmomelleroy says:

    I hear ya. It’s a sad thing that we live in a phobic, cynical world, but that being said, hell no I wouldn’t hand over my baby to a complete stranger. You set a funny scene here, Daniel. Well done!

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  7. Kim says:

    Phone survey people don’t call me any more and I need something to do while sitting here in Oklahoma eating my breakfast burrito. Therefore, I will answer none of your questions.

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your article on Cracked this morning. Nice work!

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  8. iasoupmama says:

    My first child? Nope, no one I wasn’t related to held him. My second child? She was attached to my boob 24/7, so I wouldn’t have even needed a stroller. My twins? Probably. Mama needs her hands sometimes. And I’d have left the older kids there to keep an eye on the pretend-neighbor. And no one in their right mind would kidnap 4 kids 7 and under…

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  9. First and most importantly I am entirely sure you are a dashingly handsome silky voiced man. As for the baby thing? This is why God invented Baby Bjorns and Ergos.

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  10. I would never ask a stranger to hold my baby. Well. . .maybe if she just took one of those super liquidy orange poops that squeezes out the leg of the diaper and through the onesie – then I might.

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  11. You know what you are pretty funny. And in other news, dude, it is so not OK to just hand your baby to some random guy who looks like a neighbour! What if truly he is some sort of baby-napper using that exact ineffective plan you thought up above! Being paranoid is ok because everybody else is but being so, out loud, is sort of creepy. I loved this post and the one before it and the one before that.

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    • Whoa, so you’re a serial post reader? I’m flattered, thanks.

      And yeah – doubt I’d leave my baby in the arms of a stranger either. Unless my baby was radioactive (a side project I’m working on) and I wanted to test his/her effectiveness at neutralising live targets.

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  12. There is no doubt you are dashingly handsome and silky voiced but so was Ted Bundy ;-). This happened to me in the Denver airport one time. I was by myself and a woman had to go to the bathroom. I did it but she was gone for five minutes and I talked to myself the whole time. Would I have done that? No because I did have tiny kids at the time and they went everywhere with me including, inconveniently, the John stall. It’s the world in which we live, I’m afraid. Loved reading this!

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    • Aaaah Ted Bundy…my idol! Wait…you said “Ted”, not “Al”. Damnit, I need to re-evaluate my life choices.

      Yeah guess you’re right – these days it’s better to stick to the “better safe than sorry” philosophy with kids.

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  13. No, I would not leave my baby with a stranger, but I would sure as hell leave my teenager with one. And if someone asked me to hold their baby, I would do it, but I would be worried they were going to take off and leave me with yet another child.

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  14. Ha! I love this! I have those discussion with myself, too. I hope mine are internal though. I’ll have to ask around. Also, I’d never have left my baby with a stranger. I would have forgotten the stroller and then dramatically trudged back upstairs to get it all the while cursing myself and the stroller.

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  15. 1) What the hell kind of idiot forgets a stroller?

    2)What Valerie said – that dude could have just killed the actual parents of the baby, stolen her, and then realized he left evidence upstairs, making you an accomplice to the crime.

    3) I would pay anyone to take my child. Or I’d leave it on the street with a “FREE” sign around its neck, along with a giant purse of diamonds (if I had diamonds… or a child).

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    • 1) I know, right? It’s not like a stroller is a keychain, you can’t just suddenly realise it’s not in your pocket.
      2) I’ll be expecting cops to be knocking on my door soon. But if they’re anything like NYPD they’re probably too busy sitting in trees.
      3) Actually they have auction websites and everything – you could make more money that way.

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  16. You left out another possible scenario… What if this guy was one of those people that doesn’t even want his kid. And he was on the way to go dump her on the staircase of the nearest orphanage… Or in an actual dumpster. Then he realized he didn’t feel like taking the walk there, especially since he had just bought some fritos and Season 1 of Mad Men on dvd. So, then he says “hold my baby. I’ll be right back” but that’s really code for FREE BABY!!! And you’re then stuck with this kid. Which wouldn’t be too bad. But a baby AND 2 kittens!?! You’re just asking for certain doom, my friend.

    Or …. Maybe it’s just me.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    • Anonymous says:

      Holy shit, you’re onto something! I have just missed out on free babies galore. I’ll be more vigilant next time and steal a baby at first opportunity!

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  17. “is Daniel a dashingly handsome and silky-voiced man?”—That depends. Is Carrie a beautiful, best-selling author with a natural scent of lavender on a gentle breezy day?…

    As for your other question, no, I would not hand off my child to a stranger. But I would hand him off to you. Anybody who pampers cats the way you do (or soon will if you don’t have them yet) would treat a child just fine.

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      • You laugh now but wait until we…something something. I’ll have a good comeback for this.

        Speaking of cats – we’ll have them tomorrow or Friday at the latest!

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      • I believe his two cats will be joining them soon. He’s already bought the soon-to-be-pampered felines a luxury scratching post. I suspect they won’t want for anything. 🙂

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    • Let’s just both answer “yes” to our questions and move on. The world will be happier for it!

      Aaaah yes, but this neighbour didn’t know this about me. He has no clue that I’m a slightly unstable upcoming cat owner. Anyways, luckily for him I was in my “mostly sane” mood.

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  18. If I was a psychologist (fear not, I’m sane! Mwahahahaha!) I’d point out the obvious: you clearly trust yourself to look after a child (or you would have said ‘hell, no, I drop babies all the time’ to that guy) – just not your own. Discuss. ;P

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    • You may be on to something. No she’s not, she’s not trained to analyse these kinds of issues. Dude, shut up, clearly Ella had a good point. Maybe YOU should shut up, how about that?

      Yeah…looks like we haven’t quite addressed the burning “talking to myself” issue, have we?

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  19. My husband, then three-month-old baby and I were having lunch at a diner during a road trip. I think we were in the middle of PA. Anyway, I totally offended the cashier when I plainly declined her offer to hold the baby while we ate. My husband later told me he wouldn’t have minded, but I stuck with my “that is how scary movies start” rationale.

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  20. My son’s birthday is coming up. He announces this every five minutes. (He’s going to be six, so this activity is no surprise.) At picture day with the ballet, this random woman, who was clearly there with her niece, pretty much kidnapped Sam and bought him a Starbucks treat. And I totally let her do it.

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  21. ardenrr says:

    What do the rest of you think? I think you probably need to see a doctor about talking to yourself but I have conversations with my dogs so what do I know?

    Would you be OK with a stranger looking after your child in this situation? No kids but I would have to go with no. I’m not a good judge of character.

    Is the father the embodiment of all evil? Perhaps … Maybe he was hoping you would take the baby and run. He’s probably pretty pissed at you right now.

    Is this even worthy of discussion? I don’t think anything I write about is worthy of discussion so I’m not allowed to answer this question.

    Most importantly: is Daniel a dashingly handsome and silky-voiced man? I can’t comment on the voice but I’ll agree with the dashingly handsome….

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    • Whoa, you went all out with the point-by-point answers. Respect!

      Yeah I think I’m with you on most answers, especially the “dashingly handsome” part.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  22. I’m an overly paranoid mother so turning my back to my ten month old while we are in the grocery store freaks me out and I’m immediately racked with fear that someone is going to some how unbuckle and snatch him away in the 2.7 seconds it takes me to turn back around to put my hand on him. So I would definitely NOT do this. I would haul mine and baby’s butts back up the stairs/elevator, wrestle the stroller out of what every hiding spot it was in, wrestle it back down the elevator/stairs, and then wrestle said baby into the stroller. All. By. Myself. He is a brave soul!!

    Like

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