Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Oh please don't go -- we'll eat you up -- we love you so!"

Back, oh so long ago, when I was being wooed by my good friend J. (that term "good friend" should be a clue as to how successful he was with that task) he had an interesting way of dealing with my preoccupation with children. "Do you like babies?" I must have asked at some early point in our relationship, because his response became a running and much belabored joke: "Yes. Grilled."

It's true, young love can make even cannibalism funny.

I couldn't help thinking about J. when I read today's entry on Dooce. Now, I say the following with this caveat: postpartum depression (like many specific forms of cancer) is NOT FUNNY. That being said, I was very amused to hear her thoughts on the idea of giving pregnancy and all that it entails another go.
Only recently have I started to have that baby itch again, have I wanted to put the shiny, bald heads of infants in my mouth. I think that'’s a good sign because it means I've been able to forget a little bit of the sting of those first six months and am now at a point where I would even consider going through it again. I'm the one at the neighborhood party grabbing the babies off their mothers' laps because the urge to bite their nubbly ears is too overwhelming. Wanting to eat babies is a good indication that I have healed.
Isn't it, though?

The honest truth of the matter is that I didn't love babies when I first met J. I liked the idea of babies. I liked the hopefulness inherent in the fact that we, as a species, still have them. My preference for children, however, leaned more toward the walking, talking, reasoning varieties you find in models over the age of 5. (BTW, according to J. children over the age of 5 are considerably too tough to even contemplate eating, grilled, steamed, sauteed or by any other method). It has only been over the past 19 months that I have fallen head over heals for babies and all their wonderfully edible ways.

But what is it that makes the idea of just gobbling up a baby such a universal idea (to women, at least)? When Luke does this little stompy dance he's gotten into doing lately whenever he feels he's not getting 100% of my attention I can hardly contain myself--his cuteness is absolutely edible. It's so common to hear people coo over him and say things like, "I could just eat him up" and it makes perfect sense--but why? Most people don't say that over other cute things like kittens or Tucker Carlson.

Trying to make sense of this by going to the mommy blogs was such a bad idea. They're (as with most things) black and white, either saying the phrase is creepy and stinks of Hansel & Gretle imagery, or gushing over their own children's oral fixations. The best thing I found was the following musings by writer/mom Melissa Lipscomb
Maurice Sendak knew what he was doing when he had the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are tell Max, "Oh please don't go -- we'll eat you up -- we love you so!"

I'm sure that's what Alec would say if he could talk. He's taken to biting with alarming frequency and great glee. He has four teeth on the top and three on the bottom; my legs and shoulders are covered with asymmetrical teeth prints. When [he] bites me, I say, "No biting," and he assumes a look of utter confusion. I imagine he's thinking, "But I love you!" Clearly he derives great satisfaction from sinking his teeth into me.
So, sadly, despite it's seemingly universal usage, I suppose the impetus behind the impulse will remain a mystery for now. But for those of you who might worry, yes, I never ever leave J. alone with Luke.

Here's a link I found on my "edible baby" search with pictures even I found too disturbing to actually be funny. I include the link despite that fact mainly for my mother. It's right up her alley--she loves Halloween, complicated recipes and cutting open baby dolls. Enjoy Mom!


Anonymous Mom said...

If I'm so twisted, how did you turn out so normal? Was it funny? Not really. But it certainly was clever.

5:44 AM  
Blogger *nanny said...

awwwwwwwwwwwww, i feel you! the little man i take care of is deliciously edible. i happen to have a fondness for his elbows. he won't let me dip them in ketchup though. hmph. :)

thank you for delving into the urge to nibble on small children. :)

9:11 AM  
Blogger molly said...

cute burger! you should submit the pic to or atleast check out the site - very fun!

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Ummmmm, sarcasm. Not black and white. Sarcasm. Is it so shocking that a MOM might actually have a sense of humor and be sarcastic. GASP! Oh the horror! ;-)

6:53 PM  
Blogger Nanny in New York said...

Ummmm . . . where's the sarcasm? I think it's a genuine feeling. Obviously no one would eat their baby, or anyone else's baby. My interest was more in why we all use that phrase, or have that thought.

Did you mean, perhaps, to comment on one of the posts above?

4:02 AM  
Blogger Nanny in New York said...

Sorry--I'm a little slow on the uptake this morning, Jenn.

Good to know you were being sarcastic. Generally I'm a master at detecting sarcasm so apparently I've fallen asleep at the wheel.

I really thought you had a problem with people who pointed out that your children are adorable by using that phrase. It kind of made me sad, as someone who, obviously, uses and thinks that phrase often. I'm glad to know that you were joking.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:27 AM  

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