Sunday, April 22, 2007

Playing Pass the Baby

Melissa made the remark, and I have to second it, that there are a lot of people who like to hold babies. Absolute strangers, people who would probably never look at you even once, suddenly want to be your best friend when you're holding a baby.

Even though this is frequently annoying, sometimes it leads to really neat experiences. A week or two ago, Melissa, Roslyn and I had stopped off in a Caribou Coffee on the way home from a meeting. As we sat down, drinking our coffee drinks, an older woman from India came in and began making faces at Roslyn. Even though Melissa was holding Roslyn, she looked to me for permission to hold Roslyn.

It was an odd moment, not because she was looking to me for permission rather than Melissa (even though this was odd), but because of how it made me feel. When she did this it felt like she was naming something that I felt, but hadn't yet named.

I am Roslyn's protector.

Obviously, I'm not her only one. But it has now become one of my central identity markers, and it's one that feels much more primal than most of the other identity markers. Let's be honest, Melissa doesn't need a protector; she can take care of her self. As Pastor, well, that role is important, but it certainly doesn't evoke some of the instinctual emotions that I feel about taking care of Roslyn.

But this lady, in looking to me for permission, acknowledged something in me that I hadn't even realized I felt. Most strangers who come up to us while the three of us are out and want to get their grimy paws on her always look to Melissa first even if I'm holding her. But here, I was given acknowledgment of my role in this, and it felt right.

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