Cutting Your Baby’s Fingernails, & 13 Other Things Scarier Than A Ghoul
Having a child is an act of bravery. From cutting your baby's fingernails to surviving those nights when you wake up at 2:00 a.m. and your 3-year-old child is staring you straight in the face, navigating the innate creepiness of children is not for the faint of heart. Sure, we "love them" or whatever — and these miniature horror shows are the result of an enormous, life-changing undertaking that requires self-reflection and the kind of complete emotional investment that can be downright terrifying — but it's just babies being babies that's truly the thing of nightmares.
I don't have infants anymore — my children are older now and they come with a whole new list of gruesome pitfalls — but, in this season of all things spooky, I can still firmly recall all the bone-chilling things I experienced that were part of their every day newborn lives. "Oh, babies are little angels!" people tell you. And, like, OK, yes, but let me remind you all that in the Bible angels are impossible animal hybrids with a million eyes and violent tendencies, kind of like when your sweet cherub of a child randomly hits you on the nose for no good reason. So, the idea that babies are all angelic is extremely accurate... but maybe not in the way you probably think.
So with that in mind, here are just some of the terrifying experiences you will endure in your child's earliest days:
Seriously, can we finally be honest about it? OK, sure, it's pretty cool, especially as you get closer to your due date and can get a pretty good glimpse of what your child is going to look like, but sometimes? Those early ones? Can we just admit that, at a certain point, all fetuses look like Voldemort before he gets put into that cauldron?
Look, you can't judge a book by its cover or a fetus by its creep-factor, but out of the context of being excited about having a baby that's some goddamn nightmare fuel.
An Infant's Overall Fragility
They're just so helpless and there's nothing you can do about it and that's terrifying. No amount of motivational speaking or tough love or coddling will make your infant anything but an adorable blob of defenselessness. And they stay that way for a distressing amount of time!
No wonder parents are always such a wreck! It's seriously like watching a scene in a horror movie where you can see the bad guy creeping up on his unsuspecting victim, but they're, like, kissing their boyfriend or taking a shower or picking flowers or something, so you're just screaming at the screen because why don't they do something.
The Fact That The Hospital Just Lets You Take Them Home
No one's checked your credentials or seems to care about the fact that you're extremely open about the fact that you have no idea what you're doing. Truly, is there anything in this world more terrifying than the idea that you are now The Adult? My dudes: all I want to do is sit on my couch eating an irresponsible amount of cheese and watch cartoons. It's distressing enough that I'm in charge of my own life, but you want me to be in charge of someone else's physical, moral, and emotional wellbeing? This is where parenthood goes from traditional horror movie to one of those arty, European psychological horror movies that critics won't shut up about.
The Soft Spot
And this is where it goes back to straight-up horror. Specifically body horror. Because is there any way to look at an infants pulsing head and not be horrified? And that's just on the surface! Because beyond that is the knowledge that it's a super delicate area that must be protected at all times. And — admit it — part of you is always nervous that you're inadvertently going to touch it on purpose, right?
The Weird Ways Babies Breathe
From shallow breathing to weird panting, baby dream breathing to the fact that we don't know what's normal and what's not, our babies are always freaking us out with their breathing.
My mom continued to check on me to make sure I was still breathing after I went to sleep until I was in college, which is a different kind of creepy.
Whether you're talking about a run-of-the-mill fever to the fear of bringing a too-young-to-be-properly-vaccinated infant out in public, worrying about illness is a fear so terrifying it can keep parents up at night and second-guessing long-standing plans.
Do we sometimes seem paranoid? Yes. But that's because we are. But I will refer the jury to my earlier point about the complete helplessness of infants and the fact that their immune systems are underdeveloped trash and then ask if that paranoia isn't at least understandable.
Any Fall Whatsoever
I was fairly convinced that I was going to drop my babies without any provocation whatsoever for the first year and a half of their lives, at least. Nowadays they fall off the top of the monkey bars at the playground (because of course they climb on top of them) and I just barely look up from my book to ask, "You're fine, right?" But for a while there it was chief among my very long list of concerns for no real reason other than pure fear.
How do you square with the fact that that came out of your precious child? Your beloved, beautiful baby, whom you've waited for so long to know and love and hold.
They made that horror.
What Babies Do To Your Boobs
This is especially true of breastfed infants (the gnawing! the clawing! the chomping!) but is true of pretty much all infants, because they will motorboat you at every possible opportunity.
When You Realized Your Baby Just Saw You & Your Partner Having Sex
It happens to anyone who room shares with an infant. The stars finally align enough where the kid is sleeping and you're in the mood and so you go for it... only to finish and see the little one staring at you. And you know they don't know what's happened or have any context for it to be creepy or inappropriate, but you are convinced that you've just traumatized them into becoming the next Norman Bates.
That Weird Space Cadet Stare
You know what I'm talking about. When your infant just stares into space, transfixed seemingly on something, but absolutely nothing is in front of them.
And every now and they they'll giggle or smile
And you're just like, "We're moving because my baby just made a ghost friend and I don't know if they're evil or what."
Clipping Their Nails
This is a nightmare for parents that we must endure on a regular basis. (How do those nails grow so fast?! No one knows.) They are so impossibly tiny and those nail clippers are so sharp and you just know you're going to cut their little finger tips off. It's stressful and potentially gory and no one should have to go through it, but we all do.
(Here's something "they" don't tell you: there's a decent chance you will accidentally clip your baby's fingertip at some point. It will suck, you will feel like garbage, and you will never, ever forget it or forgive yourself. But your baby will forget in three seconds and move on like nothing ever happened.)
As children become toddlers, some things get better. But now they're like these small miniature adults who can participate in conversation but have no sense of social norms or niceties and that still makes them creepy. My daughter is particularly notorious for these. Whether we're talking about the time she pointed to the attic door and told me her "Other Mother" lived up there, to the time she informed me that she was really a cat who drank the blood of birds, the kid is a ghoul, there's no way around it.
She's hardly unique in her ghoulishness, though. In some ways it gets a little bit better as they get older. This is a thing toddlers and young children do. They're slightly less helpless as they learn to, like, support their own head, but that just means they are better equipped to stick their nose into trouble.
So have fun with that, parents!