Our faith community has been experiencing something of a baby boom recently – one that we have contributed to with the recent birth of J—. There are many positive aspects to suddenly having babies rain down upon one’s peer group, especially when you are intentionally a part of that trend.
One less favorable outcome to this sudden and abrupt lowering of the mean age of congregants is the sudden interest that some folks seem to take in the marriage prospects of the under-two set. I, as an involved new parent, might have thoughts like, “Hooray, he found his hand!” (something I look forward to thinking, any day now). There always seems to be someone in the room though, who looks at all the babies and decides to get an early jump on the wedding planning!
I really realized how prevalent this match-making was recently, when a baby-loving woman came into the room, carrying someone else’s newborn. She explained that she had been allowed to bring the baby so long as she took care to follow one rule. “No dates. Friends are allowed, but no dating the other babies.”
Sometimes, it is hard to maintain the appropriately polite smile and noncommittal response when somebody decides that Evelyn should marry Yankl or Dassi should marry Dov. (I would be hard-pressed to come up with fake names that are more noteworthy than the names these kids already have, but I enjoy trying.) Why do I get annoyed by the match-making? It’s hard to say. I don’t think I’m offended on the babies’ behalf. I might just be feeling unreasonably perturbed because of the statistical unlikelyhood of any of these babies growing up to marry any other of these babies.
What I really want to say to the match-makers is, “How many couples do you know who have known each other since they were children?” Though I don’t have the statistics to prove it, I’d wager that college sweethearts make up a smaller proportion of married couples than they used to, let alone high school sweethearts. Let alone kids who learned how to crawl together.
It’s very exciting that most of J—’s future friends have parents who are settled in this neighborhood. Many—if not most—of them will grow up together. One day they will sneak cookies before the service ends, and shortly thereafter (in fast-paced parent time) will be asking one another to school dances.
(I may not expect any of these kids to marry each other, but I’m willing to bet money that they will date within their circle, in increasingly unexpected pairings, throughout their teenaged years.)
And then, when it’s all said and done, I look forward to the day when they will all come home from college or trade school, apprenticeship or yeshiva, to gather on someone’s back porch with a few bottles of bitter melon soda or raw cider or whatever the cool kids drink in the early 30’s. I look forward to the conversations they will have, reliving the ups and downs of their childhood together, until someone leaves to spend time with his girl- or boyfriend, who is in town for just one night over the holiday. Then everyone will go their separate ways, though they will always keep in touch.