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I’ve never been one to get all gooey over babies or children simply because they’re little and most often cute, although I certainly don’t believe that all babies are cute, which means, I’ve been led to believe, that the terrorists have won, because what sort of monster finds any baby anything but cute? A friend with two kids described me as she described herself when I asked if she got any fleeting urges to have more kids whenever she saw a baby. I asked because it was beginning to seem like I was the only mom who didn’t, and I wondered if it was an indication of some sort of character flaw on my part. Her answer reassured me. Although it could be evidence that we both have the same character flaw: “I don’t have to hold a baby if I see one. But I can’t not hold a puppy when I see one.”

Although I never wanted more kids – have been, in fact, quite pleased with the two we have – I never get tired of watching the bus stop by our house when the elementary school bus drops off kids. Over the years there have been various combinations of big brothers or sisters and little brothers or sisters, but essentially the same scene plays out most days of every school year. A little brother walks with his mom (almost always the mom) to the bus stop. He stands by the fence of the pasture bordering the dirt side road and holds up a bunch of grass he’s just ripped from near the fence as he calls to the palomino who sometimes spends her days there. The horse never acknowledges him. He’ll squat down to inspect some small rocks and then he’ll stomp in some mud puddles and usually his mom will tell him not to. Sometimes if they have time they’ll walk along the road so they can get closer to our llamas to see what they’re up to. If he stands close enough to the fence, this one will stick her face in his and gently blow on him. He’ll yelp and back away and his mother will say, “Be careful, he might spit on you!” She is wrong, about both the “he” part and the spitting.

Then the bus comes into view down the street and he starts hopping up and down and squealing as it approaches. Because they’re on the dirt side road, there’s no danger of him running out into the street in his eagerness to greet his sibling. When he first glimpses his big brother (all of, maybe, nine years old), at the top of the steps leading down from inside of the bus, he can contain himself no longer and runs, yelling his brother’s name, toward him. The older brother, playing it cool, climbs down and adjusts his backback while his little brother crashes into him and grabs him around the waist and begins asking him about his day. As they all three walk back up the road, the little brother is half walking, half hopping backward, facing his big brother, telling him about his day and suggesting several options for how they can spend the rest of the afternoon. The older brother is not old enough to appreciate such hero worship. While I very much enjoy watching that scene, not once has it made me think, for even a second, that I would like to have more kids.