Are children no longer made of Kryptonite?

After gathering with people in my MSW cohort up in East Harlem to prep for the licensing exam, I ended up at a restaurant with them, drinking sangria. Maybe it was the alcohol, I don’t know, but when we walked out of the restaurant, there was a little boy, maybe three years old, standing on the sidewalk, and I approached him.

I approached him.

It’s difficult to describe to people who have never struggled with infertility what happens to the babies and children of the world when you have a miscarriage. I will try to describe it now: It is as if you are Superman and babies and children are suddenly made of Kryptonite. You cannot touch them. You can’t even go near them. Their little hands and fingers, their round eyes and pouty lips, their ridiculously adorable clothing, their laughter and tears, the way they say things like: “Mama, I love you, and you love  me!” with sheer delight—all of that cripples you utterly and takes your powers away. So you stay away. You don’t look, you don’t touch, you try your damnedest not to hear, and you certainly don’t approach.

Except last Saturday I did approach. I knelt down and said hello. The little boy’s father was busy with their three-legged dog, and the boy seemed quiet and pensive, as if he were studying the way his tiny sneakers looked against the bright white sidewalk.

“Hi,” I said. “How are you doing?”

Perhaps inappropriately, I reached out and brushed his brown curls away from his forehead. I felt the warmth of his little head. For some reason, I did not burst into tears, but continued smiling.

“Um, you totally just pet that kid,” said one of my friends–one who knows what I’m going through–and she swung her arm around me.

I didn’t say anything. I was pleasantly stunned by what I had just done.

On the 6 train home, another little person, this one a five-year-old girl, sat right beside me with her mother. Because I looked up at her and smiled—instead of hunching over and turning my face away from her–she demanded to know what I was doing in my notebook.

“I’m drawing,” I said. “Do you like to draw?”

“Yeah.”

“You want to draw in here?”

Turned out she did. She drew three circles, just like the ones I had drawn.

“Those are circles,” she instructed me. “And I’m Tamia.”

I wrote her name above her drawing, and when my stop came, we said goodbye.

I hope I don’t allow the babies and children to turn back into Kryptonite again anytime soon. I used to be the kind of person who interacted with babies and children everywhere I went. Strangers’ kids used to follow me around in the park. There was a kind of magnetism between us. A friend once told me, “You’re not just good with children–you’re freaking gifted.” How strange it has been to be intermittently cut off from that part of myself during this past year.

I want it back.

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