Nate is the 21st century embodiment of the Pied Piper. If you’re a kid, you want to be in Nate’s presence.
I’ve said before that if you bring Nate to a big family party, within moments you’ll realize that all the children are gone and..wait, where’s Nate? Look out the window, and there he is, leading 14 children around the block in a big parade of crazy.
When we first started dating, he joined me on a shoot and spent the entire day entertaining my clients’ children with fart noises and stupid human tricks. GREAT WITH KIDS, everyone would mouth to me while pumping thumbs into the air. As in, Please consider him as your breeding partner, Liz.
Of course they were right. He walks into a classroom, and at once the kids are gazing up at him in adoration, just wondering what funny thing he’ll have to say. He can snatch the one fussy toddler into his arms and have the kid laughing in mere seconds. He’s the guy that has the kids in the adjacent diner booth or the airplane seat in front of us turning around every four seconds to watch him make faces. And he does it all completely uninterested in what anyone over 4-feet tall might have to say about it. Which is in part what makes the skill so enviable. At least to me.
Because I am missing this gene entirely.
Lock me in a room with nearly any kind of civilized adult and I’m generally okay. I can maintain a conversation with a war refugee, a farmer, a Hollywood star, a Wall Street Master of the Universe (provided we don’t get onto politics). But stick a kid in front of me? I’m like, “Uh, so…
I like your t-shirt.”
I think I’m the Child Unwhisperer. You got a kid who’s perfectly happy? Send him my way. He’ll be bored in no time.
How is it possible that I have spent a zillion wonderful hours with my own children, making them laugh, being silly, teaching them all the lyrics to Fish Heads, but I suck at it with any other children? I just feel stiff. Unsure. Out of my element. Kids can sniff that out like ice cream in July.
But a few weekends ago, I had another chance. I sat backstage before Thalia’s first ballet recital (fanning my eyes just thinking about it), and through a combination of circumstance and the purple YSL eyeshadow palate in my hand, I transformed from Awkward Mom to the most beloved of all parenting archetypes in the Children’s Ballet I world–The Makeup Mom.
(Not to be confused with the Facepainting Mom.)
Evidently the sight of an adult clutching a makeup brush is enough to throw a gaggle of five year-olds into an adoration frenzy. In no time flat, I had a line of giggly little dancers in sky blue leotards angling for position as I daubed eyelids and swept on rosy blush, oohing and ahhing over their exquisite skin, while quizzing them about tour jetes and the spellings of their names. (So many Y’s!)
Of course the feminist in me couldn’t resist channeling my own mother and telling each one how beautiful they were without makeup.
I did have to compensate for the fact that gawd, I was bonding with these girls over makeup.
Now maybe it wasn’t entirely me they loved. Maybe it was the Q-tip in hand and the promise of shimmer. I’m not naive. I know that shimmer is a powerful draw when you’re 5 and prone to twirling.
But when I overheard one little girl lean over to Thalia before the curtain rose and say, “your mom is cool,” I thought, I’ll take it! Maybe this is even some exciting new phase for me.
Just don’t ask me to watch your baby for an hour.