Story type: Essay
If you will read Drummond’s beautiful work “The Ascent of Man,” you will learn that we owe to children the good that is in us. It is the child that educates the father and mother.
If you are a solemn bachelor, gradually drying up in your selfish life, try having a baby around for a while.
Get a despised thin one from the asylum. Get some good, kind old woman to take care of it. Give the woman and the baby the quietest room in your house or flat, and then watch the improvement in your character.
You can feed the baby for the cost of one or two cocktails daily.
Your health will improve if you give up the cocktails, and watch the effect of their substitute, milk, on the little child.
When you get up in the morning, if the hour is early, you will find the old woman giving the baby its bath. The poor, little thin thing will wriggle joyously in the warm water, once it gets used to the daily bathing. Its head will be soaped first, then sponged. It will be dried with a warm towel, and you can hit the tin bathtub with your keys to keep it from crying while its clothes are put on.
Hold the baby for a while each morning, letting its head rest on your shoulder that its neck may not be strained. (This will give the nurse a chance to prepare the bottle that follows the bath.)
It will get used to you after a few mornings. The first time it shows affection for you, you will be the proudest man in your office.
If asked to take a cocktail you will say:
“No, thank you. My cocktail money is spent to make a thin baby fat.”
If others boast of their friends, you will know that YOU have a friend whom money cannot influence, one skinny little admirer at home whose affection is genuine.
If a man shows delight in the love of his dog, you will say to yourself:
“Any dog will like any man. But there are few that could get a baby to like them in six days as that thin Jimmy likes me.”
If you go home early, before the baby is put to bed, you will find him trying to crawl along the floor, or trying to eat the pattern in the carpet. He will look at you out of his pale, little, blue eyes and reach his skinny arms toward you.
See if that does not make you glad that you tried the baby experiment.
Gradually the thin body will get fatter, and the small, busy mouth will begin a mumbling language of its own. The old nurse will pretend to understand everything it says and will insist that it knows your name.
The first tooth piercing the heated, suffering gum; the first feeble steps with the help of a chair; the first tottering effort all alone, with arms outstretched toward you, ending in a flabby collapse, will delight you more than much experimenting with race horses, if you are the right sort of man.
It will not be long before you will decide that the bringing up of babies is your destiny, and a good one.
But when you bring a wife into the house, and she brings you other babies, thin or fat, of your own, don’t forget the original thin Jimmy baby. Provide for the old nurse and for the youngster. Say to your wife:
“Be fond of that Jimmy baby, for it was he who taught me that I could not get along without you.”