There are so many reasons babies are great. They're adorable, comforting, squishy, warm; they're like hot water bottles that kind of look like you. Another incredible baby fact? They have no guile whatsoever and have no real control over there emotions, positive or negative. When something freaks them out — both in good ways and bad ways — you will know it because they are incapable of holding back. Over the years and two children, I have learned there are surprising people who will make your baby freak out which, depending on who you're talking about, can be hilarious, unsettling, adorable, confusing, or embarrassing.
This phenomenon is really interesting to watch, both as a parent and an adult in general, because we don't ever really grow out of that base instinct, right? There's a reason so many "internally screaming" gifs and memes have popped up in recent years. However, adults have learned to keep such feelings to ourselves for the sake of propriety and social harmony. We've also learned, for the most part, to feel less viscerally than babies. (Well, most of us.) In other words, we prioritize our freak outs. Babies do not feel the need to differentiate the level of horror they express over a literal monster and that guy at the deli counter who made eye contact with them that one time against their wishes and now they hate them forever.
Good and bad, the freak outs will last for a while, so you might as well learn about some of the people who will probably prompt them:
One Of Their Grandparents
In my personal experience, both my children either had one grandparent or great-grandparent who made them freak out in a good way, and another who made them freak out in a bad way. There was never any rhyme or reason to it, and it was only ever a phase, but they would always be inexplicably attracted to (or repelled from) one of them to a degree that prompted little baby freak-out modes. It was always awkward around the one grandparent who was the subject of my child's drama, assuring my grandmother, "She doesn't hate you, she's just being weird." On the other hand, seeing an infant lose their damn mind any time my dad was within a five-foot radius was precious beyond words.
When you're a child, you have a lot in common with sanitation workers: you both seem to love very large trucks, you're up super early, you wear bright colors, you dump things (though sanitation workers have the decency to dump things into a designated receptacle whereas my kids just decide emptying the contents of their toy box in the middle of the living room floor is a great idea), and you work with a lot of messy materials.
From the minute my children could pull themselves up, they would stand by the living room window and watch for the garbage trucks. As soon as they came into their line of vision they would start squealing or babbling and wave maniacally at the workers. Full on, ecstatic freak out.
This is usually a horrified freak out, and I guess it's not surprising. I mean, we know that Santa is the embodiment of human kindness and generosity and that he brings toys for no particular reason, but babies, as a general rule, know jack. Backstory means very little to them. All they know is that they are staring at a boisterous stranger in an over-the-top red suit with a comically huge beard and, for some reason, mom and dad want you to sit with him.
I get the freak out. However, some kids are obsessed with this jolly old elf from an early age. Those kids are smart: they know where their toys come from...
The Humans Of 'Sesame Street'
Don't get me wrong: the humans of Sesame Street are and were all magical, special, and extraordinary. Hand-to-God, if I ever ran into Maria on the street I would legit start sobbing. (Apparently, actress Sonia Manzano says this is a pretty common reaction.)
So on the one hand I get it. On the other hand, I'm still routinely surprised that babies have such a strong reaction to the humans when said humans are surrounded by brightly colored, fantastical puppets. Like, how could the humans possibly compare? And certainly my children lost their damn minds over Elmo, but they still somehow had room to love Gordon, too.
Your Best Friend
I'm convinced kids do this just to mess with their parents and create an awkward situation because it entertains them. In our kids' case, it was actually my husband's best friend. "Uncle Ken" is the sweetest guy in the world, yet for the first three-and-a-half years of my son's life he was inexplicably terrified of him. As an infant, he would scream when Uncle Ken held him. The few times we would head over to his house, our little boy would run screaming for the door. If he met us for breakfast, our son was That Kid In The Restaurant Everyone Hates. Uncle Ken does not possess any of the loud, in-your-face, insistent characteristics of many of the people who freak out little kids. Our child's reaction was a complete mystery.
But nowadays? Uncle Ken is bae.
The Mean Kid At Your Mommy And Me Class
I don't know why, but often little kids are mystically drawn to the most obnoxious, hands child they can find. Those obnoxious babies will treat your little one with the same courtesy a cat shows a mouse and your baby will not GAF. They will just keep going back for more, with a delighted and dopey enthusiasm. When they see that the kid is around, they will light up and freak out as the obnoxious kid just glares at them or whatever. It's weirdly masochistic.
A Statue Of A Venerated Hero In Your Town
I don't know if they think it's real or whatever, but they do not like whoever has been immortalized in stone or bronze. My kids usually give statues in parks or whatever wide berth. This also goes for animatronic figures, though with the robotic whirring sounds and choppy movements, I can understand freaking out about that.
(Also, I've seen Westworld, people: those robots are going to gain sentience and when they do they are coming for us.)
A Particular Daycare Worker
It makes sense that your child will grow very fond of the people who care for them while you're at work, and it's lovely to see. However, I have found that there is always one person whom your child is actually obsessed with. Like, it's not just the fondness a child has for a beloved caregiver. It's fanatic devotion. They see this person and they shriek and wiggle feverishly to get into their arms. I'll admit: on the one hand it's absolutely amazing. On the other hand it's like, "Sh*t, I think I'm really jealous of Miss Lindsey. Freak out less, baby."
Your Judgmental Cousin
This is a mixed emotion, too, because you don't like your judgmental cousin (or aunt, or friend, or whoever) and you're really glad your baby can sense the evil in them and does not hold back in letting their feelings known. However, your judgmental cousin, being judgmental, is going to somehow flip this around so that you and your parenting are the problem, because "Every time I see that baby they're pitching a fit. My cousin really needs to put her foot down with that one. When I have kids."
OK. Yeah. Sure. Let me know how that works out for you.
Come on: their eyes lighting up and their little arms waving wildly when we come home from work? These babies are super into us. We're like celebrities to them, and that is amazing. Of course it works both ways: we're pretty obsessed with them, too.