Tuesday, June 4, 2013


"What" a Note to Follow "So": Why I Am the Baroness

I’m afraid of babies. I fear babies for a lot of reasons—I'm an only child with a meager extended family; I never babysat in my neighborhood; I was raised by a single mother who was more likely to take me to a dinner party full of adults than an afternoon playdate. This wouldn't be an issue if people weren't always trying to hand me their infants. There's simply an expectation that, if a female of a certain age has her hands free, she wants someone to fill them up with newborn, when really, in my case, a vodka tonic and a plate of sandwiches would be much preferred.

I could blame gender norms or my propensity for earth mother maxi dresses and chunky jewelry, but the real problem is Julie Andrews.

I know that for most people, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music are beloved childhood staples. For me, they were baffling. I ran wild as a kid. I played in the hills behind our house that were overrun with coyotes. I had free access to my grandfather's woodshop where I nearly took a finger off with a round saw. My friends and I were once chased down the street by a man who emerged from the L.A. River with handcuffs dangling from one wrist.

Little House on the Prairie I understood. That was the frontier. People had responsibilities and bad things happened. Fires. Floods. Dead animals. A Little Princess? Sure. I had chores, and possibly an early on-set garret fetish. But the children of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music were beyond me. Who were these apple-cheeked tots who didn't appreciate their nice clothes and couldn't fix a kite? 

Remember the Baroness? She was Julie Andrews’ would-be rival for Captain Von Trapp’s attentions—portrayed, with a practiced cool, by Eleanor Parker. She was very blond, impeccably dressed, and not particularly nice to "the help." These were all indications to the audience that we weren’t supposed to root for her.

But the real proof of the Baroness' villain status was the fact that the von Trapp children didn't like her. Even if the Captain couldn't see through her title and fancy manners, his kids knew what was up.

I recently went to a Sound of Music sing-along at a theater in Hollywood. People danced, dressed up in costume, threw things at the screen. All very Rocky Horror. Now, if you had to guess who gets the most boos and hisses in a movie that involves Nazis, your best guess would probably be, you know, Nazis. But you’d be wrong. The Baroness got more boos than Rolf and all his goose-stepping friends.

Sitting in that theater, still reeling from a rousing rendition of “The Lonely Goatherd” performed by a gentleman in leather lederhosen hotpants with a genuinely competent yodel, I finally realized why babies and children make me nervous.

If someone’s dog barks at you at a party, the owner apologizes and says something like, “I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” or, "He's a rescue poodle." The other guests shrug and smile, but they give you a wider berth in the buffet line. After all, anyone who watches movies or television knows that dogs sense evil the way they sense natural disasters. You might just be an awkward partygoer. You might also be an earthquake or the Terminator.

It’s even worse with babies and little kids. People believe children have some kind of innate sense of good and evil. So now, you’re at another party (the dog incident has finally been forgotten, and you’re starting to get invited places again), and someone's new infant is being passed like a cooing baton from guest to enraptured guest. It’s not like a dog. You can’t say, "Oh no, I’d love to, but these dang allergies."

Nervously, you take him into your arms. You try to smile and embody soothing confidence, and for a moment, you think you may actually survive this social rodeo without getting bucked. His sleepy eyes widen. He blows a spit bubble. And then he zeroes in like a cardshark reading your tells. You sense the change but you are powerless to stop it. He starts to wail.

His mother’s brow furrows. “I don’t know what’s gotten into him," she says. "He never ever cries.” And everyone stares at you, surprised to see that even monsters shop at Old Navy.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the appeal of a movie like The Sound of Music. (What’s not to love about an impressionable girl marrying a widower several years her senior so that she can care for his seven children by another woman? I mean, that’s the stuff of which romance is made.)

The problem is that I'm more like the Baroness than Maria.

The Baroness dyes her hair. I dye my hair. 

The Baroness is more at home sipping drinks on the terrace than hiking through those lively hills. I, too, hate camping.

The Baroness is frosty and elitist. But wouldn’t anyone seem a little finicky next to our perpetually sunny Maria? Maybe the Baroness’ chilly demeanor is just a defense mechanism for a bit of shyness, a bad case of insecurity stemming from an aristocratic childhood spent playing second fiddle to her father’s polo ponies or a failed first marriage to a handsome but degenerate playboy. You don't know her life.

This woman puts a lot of time into Captain von Trapp. She likes him. She thinks he likes her. She knows his kids don’t, but she’s hoping she can win them over. Maybe teach Liesl how to wax her lip or something. And then this virginal, fresh from the nunnery, guitar-toting, problem-named-Maria shows up on her doorstep sporting an androgynous yet weirdly flattering haircut, ready to lead the wee von Trapp demons in multi-part harmony.

The worst part is that the Baroness really does make an effort. She tries to play ball with the young von Trapps. She praises their singing (not as effusively as they'd like, but who's being demanding now?). And don't forget that when the Baroness loses the Captain, she does so gracefully. It's clear she's hurt and probably a bit humiliated, but she doesn't turn nasty or cause a scene. She and von Trapp part as friends. Yet this dignified exit didn't carry much weight with the audience in that Hollywood theater. 

The Baroness has baggage. She's complex, a work-in-progress. She's like us. Maria is... well, a bit of a Maria Sue (see also Munich Pixie Dream Girl). But despite this and despite the poise and generosity with which the Baroness leaves the screen, she is, in the end, less a woman wronged than a rival to be vanquished—because the von Trapp children have already given us our cue.

It isn’t surprising that whenever someone holds a baby out to me, I feel paralyzed by anxiety. The Baroness suffered so that we might learn: Once the kids decide they don’t like you—that you aren’t capable enough or kind enough or wise enough—forget it. The dog has barked. The scales have been sung. I recommend feigning an arm cramp and keeping your hands gloriously free. The better to enjoy a stiff drink with jam and bread.

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she hides out in Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist. Her first novel, Shadow and Bone, was a New York Times bestseller, and her second, Siege and Storm, is out today.

122 Comments / Post A Comment


BRB, dying at "Munich Pixie Dream Girl."

Also I'll take a cocktail over a newborn anyday. Newborns are weird! They can't hold their heads up! They look pretty much like aliens a little! (Except for Nicole's baby, who I'm sure has always looked totally delightful.)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher yes! Munich Pixee Dream Girl makes me ache with wishing I was so clever.

Munich Pixie Dream Girl

@swirrlygrrl Right? Guess who just found her new username.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Love "Munich Pixie Dream Girl," but giving some side eye to the idea that Susan Vance and Belle are MPDG's. Belle is all, "Hey gurl, it's my movie, OK?" and Katharine Hepburn's trousers are turning over in their grave.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher AND Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve is like the Opposite of a MPDG!

fondue with cheddar

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I don't even drink and I'd still take a cocktail over a newborn.

fondue with cheddar

@gerg nolan@twitter WOW REALLY YOU R SO COOOOOOL

Regina Phalange

Love this - and here's some further reading for fellow Baroness fans.


@Regina Phalange YES, I was just about to link the very same thing.

I love The Baroness.


@Regina Phalange That was the first thing I thought of too - so good!

the upstairs girl who frowns at the piano

@Regina Phalange

"my main pursuits in life shall continue to be martinis, bon mots, and looking fabulous"

As they should be.


Thanks for. Appreciate.@j

Emma Carmichael

Here is an important, criminally under-viewed YouTube video I found while "researching" this topic.


@Emma Carmichael This is a masterpiece.

Hot Doom

@Emma Carmichael oh my godOH MY GOD! This is genius.


@Emma Carmichael And that reminds me that I want all of her clothes/hair/charisma/uniqueness/nerve/talent.

Dirty Hands

@Emma Carmichael THANK YOU.


@Emma Carmichael "I have retained custody of the Captain’s hard-drinking gay friend, Max."



@Emma Carmichael Oh my god yes


There is a corollary syndrome, in which kids are drawn to you like a damn magnet, and everyone tells you that you'd be a great mother. Stating that you do not intend to have kids, toothily grinning toddler in your arms, causes existential angst for the entire party. It is now your job to mend the rent you have just torn in everyone's vision of the universe.

Good luck with that.


@Linette I'm this lady too. And I will happily entertain your children for limited engagements, but don't get ideas, in-laws.


@Linette Oh, yes. Yes yes yes.


@Linette I have had strangers' children run up to me and hug my legs, while the parent looks at me both warily and slightly embarrassed, while I stand there with an awkward half smile and murmur something about how sweet the child is. Not really terrible, except for the time it happened in front of mother and mother-in-law when we were on some errand related to my wedding. They would not shut up about it for MONTHS.


@Linette I want to have kids, but I am also a kid magnet. Sometimes I think maybe it is like cats - I don't like cats (am allergic), and yet cats love me. I read that with cats, it is a body language thing - if you ignore a cat when it 'meets' you, they take that as the proper method of introduction, and thus decide you are a great person to get to know as you know how to speak their language. So with kids, I wonder if they also just perversely sense that you're uninterested but not hostile(I will smile and greet kids warmly, but I try to respect their personal space - lots of people seem to just swoop in forgetting not all kids like that). And then the kid wants to climb all over you because you aren't fawning all over them.


I'm a bit surprised, I always thought the Baroness was portrayed pretty sympathetically. She's nice (although awkward) with the kids and Maria, even when it's obvious that Maria has designs on her man. She's just a terrifically bad match for whatshispickle, what with her being uninterested in kids and him having 7 living at home.

I hate holding babies, too, because they're boring and gross and they cry all the time, so I just don't. So far it's gotten nothing but acceptance and jokes from my friends. I hope it stays that way.


@MilesofMountains In fairness, she did threaten to pack off the kids to boarding school, but iirc that's the only "bad" thing she (almost) did. Overall I do think she's a sympathetic character, I even think she and the Captain are a good match in other circumstances, albeit a different kind of couple from the Captain and Maria.

(Doesn't The Captain and The Baroness sound like an awesome superhero/supervillain team?)


@MilesofMountains Yeah, I never hated the Baroness or thought she was portrayed unsympathetically. Definitely thought it was a mistake for her ever to get involved with the Captain, but she seemed like an OK lady.

It's Uncle Max and his, "You know I'm not political" bullshit (Helloooooooooo Hitler Hellooooo) that I always wanted to sock.


@MilesofMountains I always thought she was just kind of thrown in there, in a Hollywood-like, "Hmmmm, we need one more impediment to the Captian and Maria getting together....I know, let's give him an obviously unsuitable girlfriend!" way.

And wouldn't boarding school have been the accepted/common thing for children of that class in that time? I suppose maybe governesses for the girls but the boys surely would have gone to boarding school if the war hadn't intervened, right?


@Bebe I think boarding school would have been pretty accepted. It looks like they were somewhat rural, so I think the options would have been a tutor (which I don't think would have worked for the boys if they were expected to go to university) or boarding school. Even in the 60s, my mother and aunt were sent from their small-town upper-class home to boarding school to get a better education, and I don't believe it was considered very strange.


@MilesofMountains I'm having trouble imagining Maria "having designs" on anyone, given all the curtain-wearing and singing on mountaintops. She does fall in love with the Captain, but she's not really sophisticated enough to have designs.

"The point is she's really simple."
"Yes, that much seems clear!" (Different musical, but...)


@MilesofMountains It's amazing how my perception of the movie and which characters I identify with changes as I've gotten older (when younger I always had to determine which of the kids was closest in age to me). Last time watching it I realized I most sympathized w/ the Baroness. Imagine being a smart sophisticated lady of independent means and realizing that your age-appropriate boyfriend is falling for the 20-year old babysitter. She handled it with much more class than the situation called for frankly.

fondue with cheddar

@MilesofMountains My friend have been cool about me not holding their babies, but my family has not. Every time a baby is born in my family I cringe because I know that people are going to make me hold them. I am so glad my niece and nephew are four and five now, where they are strong and independent and I can have a conversation with them.


@MilesofMountains Eh, I don't know. I agree with the above commenter that Maria never had "designs" on Georg. In fact, I think the most heinous thing the Baroness did was her whole "omg the captain's totally in love with you" comments to Maria at the end of Act 1. And that was absolutely calculated, because bitch knew it would cause M to freak out and flee.

Barb, this is making me want to go re-watch my favorite movie of all time.


@DDay brilliant observation


@MilesofMountains I saw the movie again recently and it felt to me as though the Baroness' relationship with the Captain was more about convenience/companionship than anything, like, hey, we're in the same social class and both available, why don't we get together. I too didn't feel that she was portrayed/written without any sympathy, although I'd guess that Eleanor Parker brought a lot to the role to make us actually like the Baroness a little more than we otherwise would. That's a lot of thinking about a character in a lightweight musical - guess I identify with the Baroness quite a bit!

T A@twitter

@MilesofMountains They live in Austria. A boarding school in Switzerland is not that big of a deal. Also, giving the political climate, it would have saved a lot of trouble. And the Captain would not have had his daughter hooking up with a Nazi. And the final draw, if they were unable to keep a governess, there's a good chance that their formal education stopped when their mother died. All Maria taught them was how to sing. Those kids need a real education.


@MilesofMountains Yeah, and I think you do get the idea that Captain von Trapp really does like the Baroness. One of my favorite scenes is when they're strolling by the water together and just casually flirting. They really do like each other. Just, yeah, she doesn't want all those children, and Georg was apparently craving the lighthearted fun that Maria brought, which wasn't really how the Baroness operated. But they definitely liked each other quite a bit. They just weren't a great marital match.


@Bittersweet <3 bitchy actresses who have clear designs on German lawyers (only woman in the world where Desiree is not terribly trashy as a name)

Miss Maszkerádi

Oh god. I'm totally the Baroness. Society At Large must hate me even more than I already figured they do. :(


The thing is, babies and dogs don't have magical powers -- they just tend to be weirded out by people who are weirded out by them.
Hand a baby to a woman who doesn't really want to hold a baby and is afraid she'll drop him, and the baby will cry. The guy whose mother told him "you're allergic" so he wouldn't want a pet shrinks away from the dog, so the dog barks at him.
And I have always thought Maria was a bit of a pill.


@City_Dater A flibbertigibbet, a will-o-the-wisp, a clown, you might say?


This is great. The Baroness was all class, really.

I have the opposite issue, in that I like kids and no one ever foists their adorable baby off on me - and I feel awkward asking, so I never get to hold babies. Maybe I know only helicopter parents or don't look sufficiently mother-y? (I'm about 4,000 weeks pregnant now so that can't be it.) People's baby radars must be severely off is all I'm saying.


@TheBelleWitch I have this problem too!

Let me hold some babies! (And then because no one gives me their babies to hold, I become nervous when I am able to hold a baby and then I become afraid that they will cry, so I beg off before that happens... I'm such an idiot!)


@TheBelleWitch Same. My husband always has to yank me away when we walk down the sidewalk because I'll drift ever so close to the cute baby/child or dog walking past us.


@CinnamonSwirls Oh yeah, nothing like finally getting the chance to hold a baby and then have it burst into tears. SELF ESTEEM DESTROYED. I've semi-gotten over this as I've seen plenty of awesome parents hold someone else's baby and get the same treatment. Sometimes babies just aren't outgoing.


@TheBelleWitch True. They can be quite fickle.


@CinnamonSwirls oh my god you are my people.


@CinnamonSwirls Outgoing babies usually have problem behaviors later on. Their open-to-stimulus behavior as an infant evolves into a thrill-seeking, precocious behavior as children. (Meaning, of course, baby approval means Recklessly Cool Kids of the Future approval.)


@Bloodrocuted Oh man, those cool kids and their judgments... haha!


@olivebee This happens to me too! My husband usually points them out, and sometimes I get to pet a cute puppy after asking first.


@TheBelleWitch That's so true! I'm 37 weeks pregnant, and belong to a moms' group where all the other babies are on the outside. One of my friends there asked me if I'd like to hold her baby while she got her stuff together. I definitely did, and the poor little dude was neutral for about three seconds before he started sobbing. He even put his little hand on my chin and continued sobbing (his mom was right next to me folding his stuff, but she wasn't holding him, the stranger lady was). He didn't seem to be pushing my face away, just seeming to say "this is NOT my mommy's chin!" And I knew it wasn't personal, and I wasn't sending out any mean-person vibes--I just wasn't his mommy.


@siniichulok Also, depending on the age of the baby, they can be more or less OK with being held by a stranger. When my kid was a newborn, anyone could hold him for however long and he was OK with it. Possibly, he was too young to really care or notice the difference. Then, when he was about 6-8 months old, he was extremely clingy. Only people he knew well were permitted the honor of holding him without tears. Now, at 10 months, he likes strangers a lot more and is more willing to be held/entertained by them. He still has his moments of papa/mama-is-the-only-suitable-holder-ness, though. So, all this to say, it's not you, it's the baby.


I find that whistling at babies generally gets them taken away pretty quickly. Just look at them and make the same noises you'd make to a puppy. Mothers get nervous about being around somebody who is so obviously ignorant about babies and take them away pretty quickly. AND you get to look like you tried.

(Otherwise, a sneeze works, especially on first time mothers.)


Oh my god you totally nailed it. I too am an only child with a very small and distant extended family, and my friends haven't gotten to the baby-making stage yet...so on the rare occasions when I am introduced to a child, I am absolutely paralyzed with fear that they are judging me and can tell that I have no idea what to do. My coworkers' children never get anywhere near my desk when they come in, probably because they can intuitively sense my awkwardness.


1. If you think Maria is too super sweet, go read her autobiography that the movie was based on. She was such a delightful bitch! I mean, yes, she sang and brought music to their lives, and the kids totally tricked them into getting engaged, but she was also mischievous and mean and real. And I'm pretty sure at least a few of the kids regretted setting her and their dad up. Also, the Baroness was a Princess.

2. Dude, babies. I love babies and I will happily read to your baby or or hold them or shake a toy to encourage tummy time or whatever, and so few of my friends have babies that I never get to experience this. So when a friend finally does have a baby, I get nervous because it's been so long in between baby hanging sessions and totally doubt my abilities. :/


@sydwi I flipped through a bit of it one time, just enough to see the part (tell me if fading memory has manufactured this) where real-life Maria did not want to marry him -- like hardcore no question did not want to, in context hard-implied did not want to (have to) sleep with him -- so she ran away to the convent and prayed on it and only went back to do her duty because God/the abbess forced her. & it was duty all the way through. gives you horror-chills a bit. In the movie, of course, the Captain is played as sexy as they can make him, so you don't realize.


@queenofbithynia Sort of? The way I remember it, she totally fell for the kids. She was only supposed to be Maria's governess while she was ill, but slowly was brought into the entire family and she loved being part of it. She still wanted to be a nun, though. So when the kids got their dad to propose, she panicked and ran, but decided she didn't want to lose the family, which she'd never really had before. It didn't stop her from being seriously pissy on her wedding day, though. It was a transition. But she definitely was all about duty and God her whole life.


@sydwi Isn't there also this amazing scene where she goes into a music store - like a store that sells sheet music! - and asks for a book on sex appeal, because someone has told her that she lacks sex appeal but she doesn't know what the words mean in English?


@stonefruit Yes! She had some awesome learning-English adventures.


@sydwi Okay I never read the book but I went on the Sound of Music tour in Salzberg, and I swear they reported that Maria died of gangrene of the stomach! Is that true??


@SuperGogo I admit, I had to look this one up! All I knew about her death was that it was just before wee little me was going to see her and the "children" in concert, in '87. But yes, it looks like it was gangrene of an intestine. I found an article that covered her complaining that the musical made her a goody-goody, the kids engingeering the engagement and the nuns pushing the wedding and her death, all in one!


Hiroine Protagonist

@sydwi I read that - they went as missionaries to the South Seas! I wanted to read more about their hotel and what people put down the toilet and less about Jesus, frankly.


@Hiroine Protagonist She wrote two or even three, I think. Way less Jesus in the first one than the later one/s. I mean, still a lot of religion/spirituality/beliefs, but less proselytizing.


I, too, am the Baroness and I created a little Baron who grew up not exactly despising children but not really caring for them. I saw him gently push a toddler away from him once at a family gathering, and my heart swelled.

I was on a plane, returning home from a stressful business trip, and the flight attendant approached me with a young girl. The attendant explained that the girl had been seated next to a man and would feel more comfortable sitting with a woman. I said "Fine, as long as you keep the double vodka tonics coming."


I'm not a fan of babies or dogs (daschunds and greyhounds excepted). But I will snuggle your cat and talk to it in a baby voice until it is forcibly taken aweay from me, or claws its way adorably out of my arms.

fondue with cheddar

@swirrlygrrl YES THIS. You can come to my house any time. I have no babies, no dogs, and two very affectionate cats who love their bellies rubbed!


Also, as someone considering seriously dating a man with a three year old child, who has never wanted children, this article scares me. I have brown hair and love to sing, but gallavanting with children just isn't my thing, and I think I am at least as awkward as the Baroness in forced interactions with them. Especially in situations where I am wildly outnumbered.


@swirrlygrrl does child already have a mom though? If two parents are in her life already, you shouldn't be required to really fill that role, depending on how much custody the dude has. (speaking as someone whose dad remarried (when I was 8) to someone who was not a kid person, but a lovely person nonetheless) ETA!!! I didn't mean she was a lovely person DESPITE not being a kid person, I meant I thought she was still pretty great, even though I was a kid and I could tell she wasn't into kids/me. She liked reading, and cats, so.


@swirrlygrrl Seconded. I know several people who have always thought of their divorced parents' boyfriends/girlfriends/new spouses as basically a close friend of the parent, not at all like the kids' replacement/third parent, and are completely comfortable with them hanging tight in that role. That could be you!


@swirrlygrrl i think also whatever/however it would happen, as long as you 1. don't meet kid right away and 2. when you do, it's on the kid's terms, things would probably go better.


I really liked this! I do actually hear about this type of lady a lot - I think Angelina Jolie (paradoxically?) did a good job of being this lady in Mr & Mrs Smith - she sort of holds the baby out from herself like "wtf?" - and I think it's viewed much more reasonably & sympathetically than in the Baroness' day.

PS Yo anyone who has the opposite problem is WELCOME to borrow any or all of the Bergy Bits at any time - we have spares, we won't feel bereft.


@iceberg where are you anyway? I'm in Lismore in NSW :)


@iceberg Hundreds of potential baby-holders are awaiting your reply ;)


@iceberg "spares" lol


@iceberg oh shit, sorry I didn't mean to sound creepy! Just I know you are also Australian, and I wondered where you live. I wasn't planning to come over and be scary.


@sevanetta haha not at all. But I live in the US now. In Georgia actually. :)

Homestar Runner

@iceberg If you need babysitters for your adorable troop, send up the Berg-Signal to the ATL Pinners group! I know you said you're rural, but plenty of us live/work way out in the sticks too.

[/creepiest thing I've ever said on the Internet, sorry]


In the stage musical, the Baroness has two songs and at least one of them is quite good. I don't totally understand why she wasn't seeing Max on the sly--although maybe she WAS!--but lady was all grace, all style. Even as a Catholic five-year-old I admired her more than Maria. Maybe that's cause I already knew nunning around was not for me.


@robotosaur Oh shit, you guys, never mind. Max was totally gay, wasn't he?


@robotosaur Tooooootally gay.


@robotosaur The Baroness's songs (both duets with Max) are great. I had the original broadway cast recording as a child and they were my favorites.


@robotosaur You know, even though I have long been privately convinced that Max was secretly popping over to the cabaret from Cabaret (...we'll just ignore the pesky temporal & geographic issues, okay?), I still never really quite twigged to the fact that he's totally gay until right now.


I think all self-aware children prefer Baronesses to Marias, anyway. Being an adult who likes children does not come off well to anyone but other, similar adults -- the few things that all children have universally in common are not likely to be the things they like or value about themselves. It is like with dudes who 'love 'women'' -- a sure sign that they won't like me in particular, individually, and vice versa.


@queenofbithynia I'm not sure I agree with this. Speaking as someone who generally enjoys spending time with kids (and has worked with kids), if you try too hard, sure, the kid's going to pick up on it and just ignore you. But usually if you approach the kid like it's a real person, and discuss regular things that might be of interest to said kid, things roll along pretty well.


@stonefruit Yes, I have observed this exact thing, and I work with teenagers and have a lot of friends with small children. I have never been an 'I love kids' person, but I did grow up with a large extended family, and a lot of younger cousins. I don't gush over a kid bigger than toddler, I don't baby them, and I talk to them like they are people. Kids and teenagers seem to like/respect me in return. If you go in all fake enthusiasm and 'Oh yay you're a kid' then kids are... not interested.

fondue with cheddar

@sevanetta That's how I am, which is why I'm so glad my niece and nephew are finally old enough that I can talk to them like people.


"You don't know her life" -- such a great line!

I have never had a mother shocked that her baby was crying when she handed said baby off to a stranger. All my mom-friends make so many apologies as to how it's clearly the baby and not me who is at fault. I am sorry you've had to deal with less understanding mothers!


@SarahP Actually, now that I think of it, none of my friends with kids ever assume anyone wants to hold their babies. I ask. Not creepily!




@SarahP "gimme dat bebeh"

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@SarahP My mom is the kind of woman who zeroes in on the new baby in church/store/any-type-of-room and seeks it out to hold it. I like to give babies head nods and maybe a "Boobs, right??"

Nancy Sin

Who are these jerks who just hand off their babies to randoms? I think my perception is distorted because usually I'm all, 'give me all the babies and nobody gets hurt.'

That being said, I'm a super try-hard and babies are often too cool for me and bawl their heads off. So I understand folks looking on like you're Cruella DeVille when an infant starts yowling in your arms.


I am one of those parents handing off my baby to any human nearby, because I also want vodka tonics & sandwiches in my hands sometimes (most of the time). Sorry :(


@hallelujah Do not even apologize. As a baby-enjoying lady, I am happy to take babies off their parents' hands for any purpose, vodka tonics & sandwiches very much included.

(Once a complete stranger gave me her baby on the Chinatown bus. We were at a rest-stop near Baltimore, she said, can you take this, I said yes, she got off, I briefly entertained the possibility that I might get a baby out of the bargain, ten minutes later she got back on, the end. It was pretty stellar, the baby was a very chill little guy who enjoyed grasping at my glasses and hair. I think we both had a good time, although I don't like to assume.)


@stonefruit I love this story can you take this


@iceberg She was either extremely brave, extremely foolhardy, or an extremely good guesser, because I really enjoy small children! She was also traveling by bus with like four kids total, so she was quite likely at the end of her rope, regardless of how well-behaved they all were (and they seemed quite well-behaved, I hasten to add).


@hallelujah I will always hold your baby. That's why God gave me hips -- so I could hold a baby one-handed and drank my drank other-handed. In fact, you go get a drink and socialize and maybe in a half hour I'll be ready to give your baby back. MAYBE.


@par_parenthese You are the best kind of friend there is.


@par_parenthese Oh my god! Me too. Sometimes I try to be all circumspect about how much I really really do want to hold your baby, because I'm worried it will seem weird.


@RNL I don't worry about it at all, I just put my arms out towards bebe. Although I guess if it's a complete strangers baby I don't...


@hallelujah Also I will subject your baby to noms and "Do You Like My Hat" and peek-a-boo and the tickle monster and possibly tummy raspberries, so if you're a germaphobe for sure do not give me your kid.


@iceberg I don't reach for complete strangers' babies, but I will definitely make amusing faces at them on public transit.


This is the best thing I've ever read. The Baroness is my spirit animal.


@maebytonight I really wish I were the Baroness, but am much more of a Moss in actual life. Minus the cute side part.


"Now, if you'll forgive me, I'll go inside, pack my little bags, and return to Vienna where I belong."

LOVE LOVE LOVE that line.

paper bag princess

aaah I just read Shadow and Bone a couple months ago and loved it -- no wonder, if it was written by a Pinner! Can't wait to read the next one when it hits my library.

Oh also this is great too. I'm definitely a Baroness.

Sara Pauff@twitter

As a "Baroness" who grew up around a bunch of "Marias" I loved this. I'm the eldest of three, I have about 50 young cousins and my mom was always baby-sitting other people's kids, so there's no reason I should be uncomfortable around kids, right? Wrong. I just don't know what to do with them.

Josh K-sky@twitter

@Sara Pauff@twitter, the hairpin can help you with that. http://thehairpin.com/2013/01/guaranteed-low-effort-toddler-games

Oh, squiggles

I remember being a child (a well behaved one) and sitting in a restaurant next to a table with a couple. The woman quite loudly started talking about how much she didn't like children. I remember thinking "guess what lady? we don't like you either". It was pretty rude, and you wouldn't be as likely to say that about another group of people in the presence of a member of said group. Also remember thinking that it wasn't very fair since everyone has been a child at some point, and it's not like you can be born an adult...so. I guess I still feel like it's not fair to just say "I don't like children/babies" because it would also be discriminatory to say "I don't like old people". You can feel uncomfortable around them if you don't have experience with them, but it's not really cool to generalize or discriminate against people for how old they happen to be.

But, yeah it's totally okay to get to know a child/baby, find out they are a dick, and then decide you don't like them. They are people after all! Which summarizes how I feel about babies/kids. I'm okay with them up until I find out they are dicks.


@Absurd Bird I say something similar... I don't like kids because they are kids; some kids I like, because they are people, and I like some people. Some people I don't like and that includes some kids and that's ok!

Also I felt the same way as a child. I wasn't very good at being a kid the way some people want you to be, I had a pretty critical family, and I desperately wanted to be grown up so I could go wherever and and do whatever I wanted without being thwarted or criticised. I would never ever ever return to being a kid, being an adult is so much better. and I sympathise with kids, I remember what that was like!

Daisy Razor

People believe children have some kind of innate sense of good and evil.

Really? They've always seemed like little sociopaths to me. (And I love kids! They're just devious little shits.)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Daisy Razor Yep. Kids and animals can be total jerks. It is what endears me to them, actually. They give no fucks about acting like dicks.


I think the problem with the Baroness is that she wanted to ship them off to boarding school the second they got married. If you're someone who doesn't like children or just doesn't want to be a step-mother... a man with seven kids is probably not the right one for you! I like kids and no way am I dating someone with seven!!


There is a really great Lorrie Moore story (in Birds of America I think) about a woman complaining that she has gotten to the age where people just hand her kids to hold…and then things go comically, horribly wrong. I always assume people who try to force their kids on their friends have never read that story. (Being vague on the off chance anyone reading this hasn't read that story. If not you should!)


Munich Pixie Dream Girl?

But it's set in Austria :(


@Susanna Sure but "Salzburg" sounds nothing like Manic.


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