Area of Expertise is a column on niche interests, personal passions, and other things we might know or care a little too much about.
I have a visceral, ovary-tingling reaction to cute babies. More specifically, cute black toddlers. I like the possibility that they could be mine one day — their dimply legs and milk-white baby teeth, their corkscrew curls and warm, coconut-brown skin. I keep tabs on many black toddlers, including the ones in my own extended family, as well as Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert’s adorable shrimplet Junie and LeBron James’s daughter Zhuri. But no other toddler gives me as much unbridled joy as minor Instagram sensation Jayde Robinson, age 2 and a half.
She first came to viral fame last May as the big-cheeked baby who expertly aped her mother’s hair salon talk.
“And then I told him, is you crazy?” says her mother in the clip, as Jayde, clad only in a diaper, works a brush through her mom’s hair. “Is he crazy?” she lisps in response.
The whole video is just incredibly cute and was picked up by a number of talk shows and local news sites. Her parents, Kerry Robinson and Francis Garner, launched an Instagram account for Jayde shortly thereafter.
Unlike more famous social media toddlers and babies, with their reams of sponsored content and annoying glamour shots, there’s still something refreshingly homespun about Baby Jayde’s Instagram page. It doesn’t feel like she’s being exploited (though of course, who’s to say for sure — and her parents do sometimes post ads). Her mother uploads videos of Jayde running around their living room, jumping off couches, play-fighting with her dad, engaging in spastic dances. More recently, Jayde has started doing her own natural hair tutorials; her mom just sets up the camera in the bathroom mirror and Jayde goes to town: “Hey guys, we’re going to do my hair today,” she’ll say as she smears an ungodly amount of conditioner on her enviously bouncy locks.
My absolute favorite video of hers is from May of last year. It’s a hallmark of gobsmacking cuteness, a tour de force of adorability from this excellent, talented, smart, beautiful baby. Jayde and Kerry are sitting outside, and Jayde is playing with her mom’s braids as she sings DJ Khaled’s song “Shining.” She almost falls off the ledge she’s standing on before her mom catches her and Jayde breaks into spontaneous laughter.
“Mommy, I almost fell!” she says, giggling.
“You almost fell,” her mom says, laughing.
“Don’t let me fall, Mommy,” Jayde says.
Kerry doesn’t hear her at first: “Huh?”
“Don’t let me fall, Mommy,” Jayde says again.
And here I become an inconsolable sentient teardrop, a human fountain, because isn’t that a metaphor for what parenting is, and isn’t it such an impossible request? Kids will fall; the world is an awful, horrible place. Someone once told me that being a parent is like having your heart outside your body at all times, and I feel that swell of love and protectiveness instinctively toward any cute black child.
I have become low-key obsessed with Jayde’s whole family — her jokester dad and her military mom. Jayde recently welcomed a little sister into the world (her spitting image; genetics are a marvel!), and one night I actually sat down and watched the family’s two-part birthing YouTube video, all 40 minutes of it, because I have nothing better to do with my time, apparently.
My hope is that her parents will stop posting in about a year or so, after they’ve built a nice little college nest egg for Jayde, but that they’ll keep her page up so I can go back and watch her baby videos ad nauseam. And celebrate, for a moment, that curious, jubilant black-baby joy. ●