I wasn’t what you’d call ‘good with kids.’ I always did everything wrong. When I picked them up, they’d cry. When I tried to make funny faces, they’d scream. When I attempted to feed them, they’d catapult the food right back at me…ugh…Let’s just say my relationship with little tykes wasn’t something I was proud of. That is why I was terrified at the thought of my wife and I’s baby coming in November. How would I ever survive? Would the kid just scream in terror the moment I walked in the door for the first time?
I sat down on a box and slumped over. Did every new father feel like this?
I ignored the first tug on my jacket, hoping whoever it was would go away. I didn’t feel like talking to any of the guys right now. They’d only tease me about my fear of kids.
Another tug on my jacket and a wail.
I looked up. A little girl with tears streaming down her face stood beside me. I grabbed the ends of my hair and pulled. A child…A crying child.
“Uh—it’s alright, honey.”
She cried harder, holding out her muddy hands to me.
I looked around to see if anyone was with her. No luck. She was most likely an orphan, her home bombed to pieces by the Germans. Poor thing.
“It–it’s alright,” I said quietly.
She thrust her hands toward me again, blue eyes meeting mine.
“Hug—” She shuddered through a sob. “G’wive me a hug.”
I froze. Was a child actually asking me for a hug? Me, the one who always made kids wail?
“Hug.” She said again, grabbing hold of my uniform.
Awkwardly, I pulled her into an embrace, patting her head. She snuggled against my chest, sobs growing quiet.
I held completely still, unbelieving. Was I actually comforting a child?
Looking up at me, she smiled. “I ‘wike you.”
“Uh, yeah. I like you too.”
She pressed close to me again, and before I could convince her to get down, she fell fast asleep.
…Maybe I wasn’t really terrible with kids.