At first she seemed quite fascinated with me. At least that's what her parents kept telling me. My little cousin was plonked on my lap, looking up at with huge, quizzical eyes my aunt and uncle were saying that they had never seen her so transfixed with anything before.
I do tend to have that effect on babies. Unfortunately this was not because I have a beauty so primordial that even babies have to sit and wonder at my perfect form but rather it was due to my glasses. So while her parents sat there, thrilled at the deep and intimate connection their child was making with another human being, I knew she was really staring up at my glasses and wondering if it was a part of my face.
In fairness, she was transfixed by it. When her parents first set her down in my lap she started squirming the way that babies do that feels like you have a fat and clumsy cat trying to get away. But eventually she looked up to see who this strange not-parent who was holding her was and that's when she started staring at my glasses. There is something relaxing about having a baby just hanging out on your lap. It must that millennia old instinct to raise children which flares up and makes you feel like you're doing being a good person by taking care of a child.
Nobody would judge you for having a content child sitting on your lap. Ethically, it's a pretty clear-cut case of a good thing to do. Nobody would try to argue you're doing something wrong and there's definitely a comfort in knowing you are doing something that is unequivocally good, across all cultures and across all time periods.
Maybe that's why children have such a special place in society. We take great pains to shield children from the horrors of the world and when disaster strikes, children are always given priority. Maybe it's because children offer us the opportunity to be unquestionably good. By taking care of them, they allow us to carry out a good deed that no amount of second-guessing can make seem bad.
I mean sure, some dickhead can come along and say that if you raise a child to be Hitler did you really do a good thing? Well to that dickhead, I say yes. Mrs. Hitler was not responsible for the acts of her child and if in she had tried to smother him in his cot in 1889, everyone would have called her a monster and rightfully so. At that point in time, he would have been as innocent as any other baby and raising and protecting him would have been as ethical as raising and protecting baby Martin Luther King Jr.
Luckily, it was at this point that my baby cousin had had enough of staring at the glasses on my face and began to bawl and the fat-clumsy-cat squirming started anew. As I handed my baby cousin back to her parents, I wondered if that fact that my train of thought had naturally gone from my baby cousin to Hitler made me a poor potential parent.