That baby is so cute, why don’t I just take her home?

“You sure are cute,” says somebody to the newly five year old Striderling.*

“Yes, but you can’t have him,” his suspicious little sister, about to be four, warns, glowering darkly at the speaker.

She says this a lot lately, whenever somebody admires one of her three siblings.

Her mother explains that when the newest baby was born in September so many people teased the Princess Peach about how her newest little sister was so cute and adorable they thought they’d just take her home with them, and she became genuinely concerned. She quite seriously and earnestly explained to at least one such visitor, “When people have cute babies, other people cannot come to their home and just take the baby home.”

I laughed when I heard this, but then I stopped and wondered why.
Why do we do that to children? I’m guilty of it myself, I know. But when I stop to think about it, I can’t understand what is amusing about worrying children over things we do not mean and would never want to see happen.

It is funny, but it also seems more than a little twisted. It’s so common though- I watched an episode of the Korean reality t.v. show Appa, Eodi Ga? (Daddy, where are you going?) where one of the families has a new baby and his dad’s actor friend comes to visit and says the same thing- the ten year old big brother has an adorably horrified and worried face and looks doubtfully at the friend before he decides he’s teasing. Everybody laughed (including, I am sure, the viewers. I know I did). So it’s not just an American thing. That makes me wonder if this kind of teasing actually serves some cultural or developmental purpose. But I am not sure what it is. Perhaps it serves to help cement the bond between an older child and the new baby, they might have been feeling a bit doubtful until somebody threatens to take the baby away? What do you think? Am I overthinking this? Is it just funny?

* (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? God be thanked, since his entire first year, the doctors were telling us he had something that would carry him away by two or three).

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  1. Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    That is an intriguing question. I’ve wondered it before about teasing in general. It seems, rightly done, to be the intellectual equivalent of roughhousing–a sort of lesson about the actual boundaries of proper behavior, and of truth and fiction. (And, correspondingly, I notice that most kinds of teasing, like most roughhousing, comes from the men in the children’s life.)

  2. Cindy Watson
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    makes me think of “Family No one Wanted” by Helen Doss where they had just adopted a cute baby, had that said and the older kids grabbed the lady’s purse, handed it to her, spat out good bye and never wanted her to visit again.

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