When I was in my early twenties, about a year out of college, I decided to take in two foster puppies. I’d fostered other dogs for Stray Rescue of St. Louis, and when a call came out for puppy foster families, I thought that taking care of two fuzzy, wiggly little puppie-wuppies would satisfy my desire to adopt one of my own. I set Barley and Hops up in my spare bedroom, a nice big area, I thought, for them to run around and play. And yelp, constantly, night and day. And pee. And poop. And eat their poop. After only a few days of sleeplessness and non-stop pooping and plenty of poop consumption, I was over it. With my sincerest apologies, I returned these two repulsive creatures to the shelter and swore that I would never again be hoodwinked by cuteness.
Fast forward ten years. Replace Barley and Hops with three small noisy humans. Who also keep me up at night. Whose pee and poop also require close attention on my part. (Although they have never – to my knowledge- eaten their own poop. And if they have, I don’t want to know.) Who also need me to take them outside, play with them, dangle treats in front of their noses so they will display desirable behaviors. The work that I was unwilling to invest with poor little Barley and Hops is now my everyday reality, and I’m okay with that for two reasons. First, my three ankle-biters were conceived out of love and grown in my own body. And on top of that, they are SO. FREAKING. CUTE.
This cuteness poses several problems, which I will now detail, with photographic evidence.
1. You can’t help but spend money on ridiculous things that they want. Because those things are cute, and when you add cute to cute, you get DOUBLE CUTE!
Wait, I take that back. This is creepy.
I don’t remember how much it cost to take a ride in this strawberry, but does it matter? She wanted to ride in a strawberry with her mom. If she asked me again (nicely) I’d bust my wallet out in a second.
2. You devote weeks, possibly months, of your life to taking photos of your darlings, posting them on social media, and then checking to see who has liked, loved, and hilarious smiley-cried over your photos. Until they turn twelve, because zits, braces, and poor fashion choices. (At least in the case of me and my sisters. I’m sure MY children will still be cheek-pinchable at twelve.) Baby selfies. I have no idea what I look like, because I can’t stop staring at the diapered cherub next to me.
If a cute female child is sitting next to a cute male child, you have an irresistible urge to take a picture and then caption it with something like, “First date!” Which is disturbing in that you’re kind of turning a playdate into an arranged marriage.
3. Cuteness deserves massive amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup insisted upon by adults whose own children are past the cute stage. Predictably, behavior turns not cute at all after said generously donated sweets. Thanks, nice stranger. Want to babysit for an hour?
Aww, you just got your hair cut. Here’s a sucker so your mom can spend an hour washing the sucker out of your hair later.
Alright, fine. This time it wasn’t a stranger, but we only went to Yogurt Mountain because I was jonesing for some chocolate yogurt with Heath Bar and graham cracker crumbs. And I had better manners about eating mine than this heathen here.
4. When they do something bad, you cover your mouth and giggle and call your spouse in to see what this little troublemaker has gotten into. Then you snap a few pictures to post on Instagram. Oh right, then you discipline them. Because that’s going to be effective.
There are so many examples. My kids are bad. It’s a good thing they’re cute.
5. Even though you’re a reasonable adult, sometimes their cuteness bends your will as if by magic, and suddenly you find yourself allowing them to do something that will ultimately be really annoying to clean up.
Regular diaper in kiddie pool. Sure, why not?
Swimming in your clothes? Completely acceptable.
And when you’re done making a castle out of books, who will clean it up, dear?
That’s the face of a helper right there.
Clearly I have broken my long-ago vow to stay on the alert for the Kryponite-like effects of cuteness, wielded by puppies and children alike. Thrust me at the next cute kid you see; I’m a sucker. Unless my kids start eating their own poop, in which case I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to look at them the same way again.