Neeps recently transitioned from the infant to the toddler classroom at daycare, which makes him the youngest one of about ten kids. The other children are pretty enamored of him, mispronouncing his name as "Cheeps" (obviously not actually, but it translates pretty well) and generally being pretty cute about their adoration of "the baby". I didn't realize quite how deep the fascination ran, however, until the other morning when I subbed in for Nathan to drop Neeps off before work.
I walked into the classroom, Neeps on my hip, and said, "Hi guys!" to the toddlers who saw me. One by one their faces lit up and they started saying, "Cheeps!" "Cheeps!" and swarming towards us. I, failing to see the frantic signaling of the warden- er, teacher- put Neeps down on the ground to be with them. They immediately mobbed him like sharks on chum, and the teacher waded in saying, "Friends, friends, give him space!" I, amused by the spectacle, moved to put his stuff in his cubby, only to turn back when I heard a shriek of frightened indignation.
The swarm had literally cornered my son, who was now crying loudly with fear and rage.
"Okay buddy," I said, and plucked him out of their grasping little paws. "Hey guys, hold back a sec and let him adjust." The children looked up at me, wide-eyed and pleading, and one little curly-haired girl said wistfully, "But... I love him..."
"I understand, sweetheart: I love him, too. But he needs some space to feel comfortable."
Needless to say, "But... I love him..." is now A Phrase around our household. (Also we've decided that, given his natural charisma, he's probably going to be a cult leader when he grows up.)