TARRYTOWN, NY—Although he's had nearly three months to meet people, local baby Joshua Goldsworthy hasn't made a single friend, according to those who know him.
People who have met the quiet, stay-at-home misfit say that, while he's more interesting than he was two months ago, Joshua lacks the warmth, charisma, and empathy of a suitable companion.
"It's not like I hate him—I just don't get a lot out of knowing him," said 32-year-old Gretchen Sperber, a longtime friend of the Goldsworthy family. "He's hard to read. Sometimes he'll stare at you for hours, other times he'll fall asleep right in front of you, like you're not even there."
As Bonnie and Jason Goldsworthy's first child, Joshua is predictably adored and indulged. With a toy-filled nursery, a favorite blanket, and a parent, aunt, or grandparent always close at hand, the blond, apple-cheeked little boy unquestionably receives adequate love and comfort. However, most psychologists agree that familial love cannot replace friendships with one's peers.
Visitors to the Goldsworthy home often report having negative first impressions of Joshua. Out-of-the-blue crying fits, the tendency to yank at loose hair and earrings, and copious drooling are just a few of the antisocial traits he displays. Neighbor Lena Osterberg said that, two weeks ago, she cut a visit to the Goldsworthy home short after the self-interested infant committed a "gross" indiscretion.
"I still can't imagine why he didn't excuse himself and crawl into another room," Osterberg said. "The stench filled the living room, and he just sat there and grinned."
Another acquaintance, who asked not to be identified, described Joshua's head as "bulbous" and "disproportionate," and said the baby has "pudgy, triple-creased legs."
"May God forgive me, I know it's a sin to judge people on the basis of their appearance," the anonymous source said. "But he's like a monster. If you blew him up to normal size, people would scream in horror."
Although he responds to his doting parents, Joshua often alienates those outside of his family circle, according to his pediatrician, Dr. Martin Prushow.
"He seems to take interest only in people who are willing to nurture or 'mother' him," Prushow said. "Once in a while, you can coax a smile out of him, but only if you make a smiling face yourself. He's not a terrible person, but as far as actual depth, nothing."
Among non-relatives, perhaps the most acquainted with Joshua is 16-year-old babysitter Ashley Steinhoff. Though she meets with Joshua as many as three times a week, Steinhoff was quick to distance herself from the baby.
"'Babysitter' sure, but I wouldn't say 'friend,'" Steinhoff said. "I mean, it's not like I hang out with him for free. With my actual friends, I do things just for fun, and have full-sentence conversations—not change their diapers."
Steinhoff did not rule out the possibility of a future friendship, but said that Joshua would have to "quit being a baby first."
Although it is more than eight months away, family friends are already concocting excuses to skip "Baby No-Friends'" first birthday party.
"I can already predict what will happen," Sperber said. "He'll smear cake all over himself, throw a tantrum when someone puts a party hat on him, and scarcely acknowledge his presents other than to gnaw on them. I've seen how this kid operates."