*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
I've often said I don't like babies. While that's certainly true, my feelings about babies and small children go deeper than mere dislike. I actually have an irrational fear of them.
Whenever I am in the presence of babies and small children, I shudder. I don't like the sight, sound, or smell of them. That would be enough to convince me to refuse to babysit, but I am terrified at the idea of being alone with kids.
I've recently learned that irrational fear of babies and small children has its own name, pedophobia.
Here's a quick overview of the condition, according to Cleveland Clinic:
People with pedophobia develop an irrational fear of babies and small children. The word pedophobia stems from “paida,” the Greek word for children. “Phobos” is the Greek word for fear. Someone who has pedophobia may take extreme measures to avoid being around small children.
I don't know whether my fear of babies and toddlers came from my love of horror movies as a teen, but it's possible. I know that's around the time I first realized I couldn't bear to be around small kids.
My fear has something to do with the irrational thought a baby left alone in my presence might levitate or speak in a low, guttural voice. It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. It is irrational, which is part of the very definition of pedophobia.
Since I developed pedophobia in my early teens, I've never been able to babysit for family or friends. It's entirely out of the question.
I've rarely stayed alone in a room with a child while parents and guardians stepped into another room in the same house, and I've never been alone in an empty house with a child. I haven't held a baby since my pre-teens, shortly before I developed my fear. That experience wasn't entirely bad, and the baby did nothing but sleep quietly in my arms as I watched television.
In other words, my only experience with being alone with a baby couldn't possibly be what caused my extreme fear of babies. At least, not that I can tell.
I also wonder whether my extreme dislike of babies and small children results from my pedophobia. Or could it be the other way around?
While I don't think I'll ever know what really caused me to feel this way about kids, I'm not too concerned about it, either. At best, it gives me a nifty excuse to say no to babysitting requests.
I have no children of my own. Nor do I want any. So I don't have a conflict of interest in that regard. Fortunately, I've never been involved romantically with a man who had children or wanted children of his own. I guess I've been lucky.
While I have met other adults who don't enjoy children—and who can blame them?—I have never encountered another person who found them terrifying. Have you?