Babies Do These Things

    Another cute and cuddly creature assigned certain jobs on comic postcards was the baby.  For the purposes of our discussion, these are children too small to walk or get up and use the potty, for, as noted above, they were frequently assigned some of the same jobs as the cat and especially the dog.

    Frequently, I say. In fact, it was used to serve one of the more common postcard messages.

    And you might think that, like a postcard dog, a postcard baby was known for just this one talent.

    But no, there is another baby activity which takes precedence,  For, like the cat or the dog, the baby is called upon to do a number of things besides its Main talent.  As with the dog and the cat (or puppy and kitten) I am not considering those cards where their function is simply to be cute.  There are dozens of cards dealing with the baby’s simple accomplishment in being born, which, is comic postcards, is treated as a mixed blessing.

    (That was a parody of “Little Drops of Water, Little Grains of Sand”, an immortal hymn which started life as a classroom exercise in impromptu poetry.)  But, really, even when they are born in unexpected quantity, the main actor in these cards is really the father.

    But their main talent, and main activity in postcards, is one they take up almost upon biorth.  They cry, especially at night.

    In fact, the cartoonists suggest, with some justice, that the majority of babies do NOT cry, so much as they scream.

    And being unable to explain what’s wrong or comprehend the finer points of the pity of being alive in the first place, just about anything will set them off.

    Sometimes it is actually nothing at all.  They just feel like developing their lungs, no matter what Mom or Pop try to stop the sirens.

    Fortunately, they are SO cute when they finally fall asleep that people can’t help but forgive them, even when, as in this postcard on Married Life, the baby only starts to behave when Dad comes home from work, belying his mother’s exhaustion.  (The poem, if you can’t read it or don’t feel like bothering, suggests that if more unmarried women could know the headache of listening to a baby scream all day, there’d be a LOT fewer married women.)

    In fact, the wailing baby, like the puddling dog and fence-perched cat, was so much a standard of postcards that when one wanted to just register unhappiness, they were the best recourse.  (And now we’re back to that column on “Why Don’t You Write?”)

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