She flagrantly disregards all rules of etiquette, defying the most commonly accepted social mores.

She'll make noise when silence is expected. She'll laugh out loud when hushed reverence is called for.

She'll eat noisily and messily, slurping down her meal, grunting loudly in appreciation of the foods she relishes and openly balking at those she does not.

Nor does she have any concept of respecting private space. She'll stick her face right into mine. My nose, glasses and hair all become targets for her hands to grab onto.

She'll stare at complete strangers, maintaining eye contact with her wide-eyed gawk until her curiosity has been thoroughly satisfied.

She has no concept of "waiting your turn." She'll interrupt my conversations to demand whatever it is she wants — and will persevere until she gets it — without the slightest apology or bashfulness.

Yet despite her total lack of propriety, she's loved by all.

Grim-faced strangers will approach her in the street to smile at her. Mature adults will make all sorts of silly faces and witless gestures for the gratification of her laugh.

My older children may come home from school in a cross mood, snapping at whomever they encounter to express their frustration. But put them in quiet room with her and they become almost miraculously transformed. Their talk becomes gentle, their gestures loving.

"She," of course, is my six-month old baby.

What is it about a baby that is so charismatic? What is the secret to her charm? Why do we not only tolerate a baby's disregard for social norms and her invasion of our personal space — but even enjoy it?

Many things draw us to babies — their purity and innocence, their vulnerability and need for protection, their trust and optimism. Things that our burdened, older selves have long ago discarded.

And, of course, there is simply the baby's adorable cuteness.

But I think that the true source of a baby's allure is her complete lack of self-consciousness. Her almost egoless state of being.

Now, here's where you'll object and tell me that a baby has the biggest ego there is. All she knows is one big "I." She screams and demands her needs, completely oblivious to the fact that there are others in this world besides her who are worthy of consideration.

This is true, of course. A baby is intuitively convinced of her own importance. She is also conscious of the admiring stares of those around her and thrives on them.

But a baby's sense of selfhood is an honest, altruistic one. She will assert her self purely for its own sake, not for any ulterior motive.

She will clamor for her needs in the best ways she knows, but she is not making a statement through them. Her needs are simply her needs — not a way of demanding attention or respect or of asserting control over others.

It is true that she has not yet discovered social mores — those laws and rules meant to teach us consideration in living together with others. But, by the same token, these rules all to often also dictate a life-long pursuit of trying to make ourselves into someone else — into others' perceptions of what we should ideally become — rather than having the courage to discover who we truly are.

A baby is infatuated with everything around her. She is engaged in a perpetual quest to decipher and manipulate her surroundings, to learn how she can be a part of it — but without any need to control or subdue it.

Often, when we assert our "I" it's not a matter of our real, or even perceived, needs and wants. It is more an issue of my "I" competing for space with your "I." When I want something, it's often because you have it, so why should I do without? Why should I command less respect or control than you do?

Our zealous protection of "personal space" is also often a matter of this battle of the I's. The story is told of a chassid who once came to his rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the third Chabad Rebbe, complaining that "everyone is stepping on me" — forever interfering with his sphere of influence or involving themselves in his affairs.

Answered the Rebbe: "If you wouldn't spread yourself all over the place, there would be room for others, too, and they wouldn't need to step on you wherever they go."

We feel the need for personal space when there is too much of another's "I" interfering with our own. When my "I" is so unbending and full of my sense of entitlement, I fail to make room for your likewise strong sense of "I" and become uncomfortable being in too close proximity with it.

We think we are asserting ourselves by demanding that our "I" too be heard. In truth, we are pursuing an "I" that is the artifact of our societal machinations, rather than the inner "I" of our real and true calling.

A baby, in contrast, introduces us to refreshingly honest and natural selfhood. When she makes her presence known or clamors for her needs, she's not using these as a cover for any hidden agenda. When she smiles at you, she's not out to be a master over you or to subdue you. She's not even interested in entertaining you or making you feel good.

She merely is what she is. Without any apology. Without any self-consciousness. Without any personal agenda. Without any arrogance. Without seeking anyone's approval.

And that is what we love so much about her.

So much, in fact, that we're even willing to let her pull at our noses.