We have all had the experience of meeting someone and - for reasons that are often completely unknown - an instant dislike develops.
Perhaps nothing is even said between you, but for someone reason, someone's aura bumps up against yours and antipathy beds in.
What happens when the being you take an irrational dislike to is a child?
It's happened to me, and it's a shameful secret. There is a child who I don't have much to do with at all, but nevertheless, I find it almost impossible not to dislike the poor mite whenever they are in my field of vision.
Rationally, of course, I know that the child has done absolutely nothing wrong. The child does not really misbehave over and above its age bracket. The family is nice. This is my problem (not a huge one, really) but still, one that makes me feel quite horrific. Is it even allowable to dislike someone under the age of puberty?
It makes me wonder about all of us who, on a day-to-day basis, conduct playdates, hold coffee groups, fraternise with fellow kindy and school mums, and try to work wonders on Plunket and school boards.
For many of us, other people's kids are a huge fact of life and one that we have little choice over.
Our kids blurt out that they like a particular child, for example, and especially if you stay at home with your preschoolers for any length of time, that child and it's entire family become part of your posse.
Luckily, most of the mums I meet are great, and their kids are generally as nice as their age and temperament allow (I'm including my own kids in this description, and acknowledge some parents might find my littlies difficult to warm to as well).
The ones who misbehave can engender annoyance, and a general feeling that they are heading in the direction of either Charlie Sheen, Pol Pot or Lindsay Lohan. But this is usually sheeted off to the age or stage - or too much sugar, not enough sleep, and nothing that Prozac won't eventually be able to fix.
But personalities are a little more immutable, and none are are on greater display than during childhood.
Little people and their outsized personalities are up in your grill if they're around you, and there's little you can do about it except grin and bear it. Especially as the adult in the equation.
But that doesn't mean you have to wholeheartedly adore every little lamb that crosses your path - does it?By Dita De Boni