Thursday, October 16, 2008

So are you a 'Smallist' or a 'Biggist'?

Here's something you didn't know about the weird old world we live in: Most people, and especially most parents, can be divided into Smallists and Biggists.

Take Mum. A character sketch would take in the fact that she's in her mid-30s, spends a pittance on clothes and likes the colour blue. Oh, and that she's a Smallist.

A Smallist is someone who likes his babies tiny. The smaller they are, the cuter they are - that might as well be his rallying cry. Mum already looks at Sonny - who at a week shy of six months isn't actually reaching elephantine proportions - with a certain regret. From time to time, she sighs as she recalls his proportions when he was just a few weeks old: "He was so helpless", she coos as a faraway look enters her eyes. She's all for expanding the family, and chances are the strongest attraction is the prospect of cuddling a really minute bundle all over again.

Unfortunately, we haven't a psychiatrist on staff to explain what's going on here. With such folks, if we are to hazard a guess, the maternal instinct is stoked the more fiercely when the object of attention is in greater need of succour. And all things being equal, the smaller the creature, the more in peril it is likely to be: It's probably some sort of law of the jungle, or at least a bylaw.

Pa, meanwhile, is a biggist. As you might imagine, a biggist is just someone who likes his babies big. We don't mean fat: As discussed months ago in 'So round is our baby', Pa doesn't want Sonny to be carrying too much excess weight and doesn't find chubbier infants thereby more adorable. Rather, there's something about very small babies that gets his worry juices flowing. It's a reverse of the sentiments that animate a smallist: Pa beams with greater pleasure when presented with a baby that is strapping and just the antithesis of breakable.

Chances are, the secret source of biggism is clumsiness. Parents who are more likely to trip while carrying their offspring or crash into a wall while wearing an infant shock absorber are probably equipped by Mother Nature with a strong instinct to gravitate towards the robust rather than the fragile. Truth be told, most folks are surely a mix of both biggist and smallist tendencies. These warring predilections may spill over into realms beyond babies - into preferences for entertainment, vehicles, interior designing and goodness knows what else. Utter 'cosy', for instance - while approving someone's den or compact car - and you are probably in the grip of a smallist spasm. Cry 'hearty', meaning to compliment a dinner spread, and biggism is probably raging undetected.

Where does that leave Sonny? Lucky for him - and this applies to any child, at least in the eyes of his parents - he's for the most part poised in the sweet spot between small and big: Perfectly himself and always the right size however much his physique may alter.