Today I am going to a baby shower for a young woman I hardly know. All the other attendees will be strangers complete and thirty years younger than me. But I was invited and I need to get to know the guest of honor—she’s my new niece.
I haven’t been to a baby shower in quite a long time but I think I remember how it’s done. There will be some innovations with this new generation, I’m sure. The games may be new, or electronic; they might even eliminate them. The food will not be made from scratch. But people are people. It can’t be all that foreign.
On our recent vacation, we were on a cruise ship full of “older folks.” I discovered I am beginning to be more comfortable around people of a certain age. They’re more predictable and easier to understand.
Seniors don’t say “He’s hot,” when they want to convey admiration for a handsome man. They don’t say, “It’s cool,” when accepting my apology for stepping on their toes. People my age know what I’m talking about when I say, “Y.M.C.A.” or “Bus Stop” and shuffle my feet. They think before they speak, for the most part, and they’re practiced at making those around them feel at ease.
There are exceptions to my generalities. Nothing is poopier than a poopy senior citizen. Nothing is uglier than a white-haired, wrinkled face spouting crass words. People will be people and some of them don’t learn much by age sixty.
As a race, humans are naturally self-centered. I’m pretty sure we’re born that way but I’m confident our early childhood training reinforces it.
For the first two years of life, we are the center of our mother’s universe. We cry; she attends our every need, want or whim. We are Important.
Two toddlers meeting for the first time are delightful to watch. For about two minutes they may flirt, hug and kiss and give one another toys. Two Important people are bound to clash, though. Suddenly and inexplicably, there is an eruption of temper—one baby is howling and the other (the one with the toy in his hand) is scowling fiercely.
Look ahead fifteen years. A young lady is Face Booking a nasty diatribe against her former friend—the one with the boy in her clutches.
Some years later, hopefully but a few, these kids have learned to overcome their self-centeredness to a degree. They learn diplomacy, generosity, gratefulness and empathy. They’re still Important but they don’t have to act like it—at least not all the time.
My hope today is our social hour together will be not unpleasant, the women attending will learn something from the matronly aunt and the aunt will come away pleasantly surprised at how well the toddlers have grown. She might even learn something new about how people are.