Thursday, August 22, 2013

Defending the pack

Yesterday I became an uncle.  I can't decide how I feel about phrasing it like "My sister in law had a baby" vs. "My brother had a baby" vs. "My brother and sister in law had a baby" because obviously cis men don't have babies but it does feel kind of nice to include them in the "You had a baby" statements.  Either way there is now a very small person who just entered my family and Elli has a cousin which has driven her to new heights of excitement.

(Note:  The baby is very early, about 10 weeks before due.  Everything is fine so far except that they are stuck in a hospital very far from home.  Logistical nightmare.)

I never really thought this would affect me.  I am happy for them since they wanted this very much but I kind of figured this would be like any other baby.  I assumed that I would hold it for awhile when I visited and be vaguely amused by it but otherwise not be all that interested.  Instead I felt a real surge of emotion and a powerful need to protect the small one.  My brain started conjuring up dreams and fantasies of ways in which I could rescue the small new person from danger and bad people.  I can't say why this happened because I have close friends with kids and I have never felt this way about their children.  Somehow my brain places this new arrival into a completely new category, as someone I must physically protect even at the risk of my own life.  There is obviously something very deep and primal about my connection to my brother that has made this true.  Evolutionary psychology would say that I am protecting copies of genes that are relatively similar to my own; I can't argue with that conclusion but I wonder how much of it is evolution and how much of it is the closeness of my relationship with my brother.

I told my brother that the name they chose felt like an old man's name.  He responded that they expected the child to eventually become an old person so it was all good.  Touche.

So yesterday ended up being quite the day.  I will remember vividly for a long time, I am certain of that.


  1. It may not be the case that your brother had a baby, but it is certainly the case that he now has a baby. English is weird.

    (And congratulations to all concerned, btw.)

  2. Yeah, if anyone questions you on "My brother had a baby" you can just say, "I mean five minutes ago he was a person in possession of a baby, he still is, too." You can always just out-snob people.