I used to be sceptical about the depths of attachment some people claimed to feel for children, especially for children other than their own. I was dubious about the supposedly mystical power of newborns to compel the affection, devotion, loyalty of anyone around them. I've always been fond of children in general, but not of babies. Babies are ugly, noisy, leaky, and you can't have a conversation with them. I just didn't get the thing with babies.
But over this past decade I have experienced the phenomenon for myself. Twice. There are two babies that I have met, held in my arms, only a day or two after their birth: one a niece, the other a daughter of one of my oldest friends in China. And - years later, even though I have not seen nearly as much of them as I would have liked - I am still ridiculously gaga over these two kids. I am starting to be convinced that there is some kind of pheromone newborns give off that can cement your attachment to them long-term - permanently - even on quite brief exposure.
Of course, it may help that these two little girls are exceptionally pretty and vivacious, and precociously smart, and very affectionate towards me. But maybe they just naturally reciprocate my affection for them. And maybe I am inclined to overrate their virtues because of this strange, unconscious, chemically-driven imperative to adore them. Do they seem cuter to me than to most other people, to people they didn't enslave in their first days of life? These questions fascinate me.
It's also a cause of some awkwardness, some guilt for me. There are other children I would like to feel this intensity of affection for: my other niece, in particular; and the children of very good friends, some of whom I perhaps stand in a quasi-godparent relationship to (I have been asked to consider being a godfather a couple of times, but regretfully had to decline because of my godlessness). I am fond of these other children; but it's not the all-consuming, daffy, helpless soppiness that I feel about those two. (And I wonder what JES's latest Web-gizmo discovery would make of that last sentence?!)
It's a strange phenomenon.
(I'm intrigued also as to how this may relate to the concepts of 'falling in love' - and remaining in love! - with adults. I think there's only one of my exes - only one of my recent-ish exes, anyway - who still inspires this kind of spontaneous affection in me. What kind of pheromones did she blitz me with??)