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By Bob Bridge, Columnist

“A baby is a wishing well. Everyone puts their hopes, their fears, their pasts, their two cents in.”

— Elizabeth Bard

Uncle Bob cradles baby Kari
Uncle Bob cradles baby Kari

There was a time, not so long ago, when infants were restricted from my personal orbit.

I wanted nothing to do with them. Yes, I held babies in low esteem. Basically, they were chronic criers, possessing less personality than a stalk of celery.

Asking Bob B. Bridge to nurture a baby was like commanding an elephant to climb a tree.

The dude was ill-suited for the task.

Oh, how adults doted on them.

“Isn’t she pretty? Isn’t she precious? She’s ... perfect!”

Balderdash! Bah humbug!

I was in my 20s when I experienced my first eerie encounter with a human “fresh from the oven.” I was lean, mean and donned a scraggly beard.

I had just returned to Indiana from the wild west. My sister, suddenly and inexplicably, thrust her newborn baby into my arms.

Was Bob taken aback?

I’d have been more comfortable if an adult grizzly had crawled onto my lap. I was overcome with incipient panic.

Kari, adorned in diapers, must have thought she was being cradled by a limestone statue. She carefully scrutinized this furry fellow.

I was transformed into Robert, the recalcitrant uncle. No need to sugarcoat it, I was a coward, fully anticipating an epic failure.

I figured I would fumble, make a mistake, a completely irrevocable faux pas. God forbid, what if I dropped her?

Fortunately, my sister snatched the bambino and relieved her burdened brother of further ruminations.

I escaped to the nearest watering hole. The first beer helped, but not nearly as much as the third.

Nearly two decades eclipsed before my next close encounter with an infant. I was enjoying a holiday and minding my business, doing what I do best — eating snacks and watching a football game.

Angie, my niece, wandered past my recliner and suddenly tossed one of her twins onto my unoccupied lap. My facial expression revealed utter horror.

Noticing the dismay, Angie leaned over and whispered in a soothing tone, “It’s OK. Just pretend he’s a football and tuck him under an arm.”

So, I did.

Wes stared up at me with those prodigious peepers. Then, he smiled.

Shazam! It made me tingle all over.

His breathing subsided to pianissimo, and his miniature motor purred almost soundlessly. I was instantly infatuated.

His aroma was absolutely ambrosial. That glorious grin could illuminate Vegas.

Wes looked at me as if I were omniscient, could solve all the secrets of the universe.

Heck, I can’t even operate a simple remote!

Still, I appreciated his show of confidence. He proved to be an appealing addendum to an auspicious afternoon.

See, I’m not as shallow as a mud puddle. I am undoubtedly endowed with depth.

I truly adore my nieces and nephews. They’re as sweet as Tupelo honey.

And, they’re talented, clearly capable of impacting the planet however they choose. Don’t worry about the next generation, folks. I assure you, the pond is well stocked.

Life can be iffy. Really iffy.

You can’t be too careful.

Am I a tad overprotective? Frankly, I wouldn’t let any of those tiny treasures leave the house without a helmet and strapped securely within an armored tank.

Are they special?

Why, of course!

“Pretty! Precious! They are ... perfect!”

Columnist Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or

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